Monthly Archives: September 2018

StrictlyVC: March 2, 2018

Friday! For those of you who made it out to the event Tuesday night, we now have pictures, courtesy of photographer Dani Padgett (who we pretty much adore; she shoots at most of our events). Check them out here.


Hope you have a fantastic weekend, everyone.:)


Top News


YouTube last year stopped hiring white and Asian males for technical positions because they didn’t help the world’s largest video site achieve its goals for improving diversity, according to a civil lawsuit filed by a former recruiter for the company. The suit could embolden other critics of Google’s efforts to promote workforce diversity. The WSJ has more here.



Sponsored By . . .


What do EvenEARNEarnUpEverSafe, and Everlance have in common? ALL are alumni of the Financial Solutions Lab virtual accelerator (and ostensibly, all like the letter E), which is now accepting application for its next class. Selected companies get $250,000 plus access to resources that can help them find their way through fintech regs and consumer pain points, helping them to scale and thrive. Check out FinLab’s Impact Report, and apply now.


Despite Uber Debacle, HackerOne’s CEO Argues Why Every Company Should Be Working with Hackers


In November, Uber disclosed that a year earlier, in 2016,  hackers had stolen 57 million driver and rider accounts and that it paid them a $100,000 ransom to delete the information. The breach was reportedly part of Uber’s bug bounty program, wherein it pays hackers to test its software for vulnerabilities. But the amount was exorbitant by typical standards, and the episode has fueled criticism over the bug bounty practice, which is seen by some as funding criminal activity.

At our StrictlyVC event in San Francisco this week, Marten Mickos, the CEO of HackerOne — which runs Uber’s bug bounty program — answered questions about Uber’s hacking, which is now the subject of at least four lawsuits. His interviewer, cybersecurity reporter Kate Conger, also pressed him on the definition of a good versus bad hacker — and whether there’s much of a difference.

Excerpts from their sit-down follow, edited for length.

KC: For those who don’t know, what does HackerOne do?

MM: The simple truth today is that every single system will get hacked. And the only question is, who do you want to get hacked by? People you trust or criminals? If you choose the former, you swallow that pill, you come to us. We have 160,000 ethical hackers in our network who will hack you within 24 hours. They’ll tell you how they broke in and you’ll pay them a lot of money, but it’s much, much less than if you swallow the other pill.

KC: You were in the news recently and maybe not for the most positive reasons: You administered Uber’s bug bounty program and it got wrist-slapped for [losing the data] of 57 million people and paying out $100,000 to the hacker to keep him quiet. Do you think that behavior muddies the water between ethical hackers and bug bounty programs and bribery?

MM: I’m not here to comment on any particular case. I can note, however, that it hasn’t been shown than 57 million records have been lost forever. They might have been lost for a short time only, but we’ll leave that to others to figure out. But it’s clear that in the world of hacking, if there is intrusion and data exfiltration or extortion, it has nothing to do with ethical hacking or bug bounty programs.

The line there is very clear. We’re very fortunate to run Uber’s bug bounty program and many other really large programs [including for the U.S.] Air Force, Army, and Pentagon. So sure, with technology always, it’s the same technology used for good and bad purposes, and technology itself doesn’t have an opinion about what it’s being used for.

KC: So is that the ethical line between a good and bad hacker — data exfiltration? You can break in as long as you don’t take anything?

MM: The difference between the hacker and the criminal is intent. If you’re an ethical hacker and you’re looking for vulnerabilities in order to report them, you must break in. If you have a neighborhood watch and you ask your neighbors to see if they can break into your house, they have to break in to show you that they can do it. Once inside the house, they shouldn’t take anything, though.

The same idea applies [with bounty programs]. [Hackers] have to show that it’s possible to break in. That’s where you get to the question of authorized versus unauthorized conduct, and then again, it’s the owner of the house who decides which is which. When you break into the house, how much do you need to do? Do you need to bring something outside to show it was possible or not? And that’s an individual decision for every customer of ours, who determines what they need as proof. The more proof you need, the deeper the hackers need to go to find it.

KC: In the security industry in particular, a lot of things that are considered best practices seem from the outside sketchy, for lack of a better word.


More here.



New Fundings


Ascent Technologies, a three-year-old, Chicago-based regulatory technology company, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Alsop Louie Partners, with participation from individual investors, including Randall Kroszner, who previously served as a governor of the Federal Reserve. More here.


C2FO, an eight-year-old, Kansas City, Ks.-based online marketplace where buyers – including Amazon, Costco, and Nordstrom — can negotiate with suppliers, has raised a whopping $100 million in fresh capital. Munich-based Allianz X and Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Investment Company co-led the round, with participation from earlier backers TemasekUnion Square Ventures and Mithril Capital. Regional outlets believe it’s the largest venture-backed funding round the region has seen.More here.


Chehaoduo, a Bejing, China-based online car-trading platform, has closed on nearly $820 million(!) in its latest round of fundraising from a consortium led by internet giant Tencent Holdings. Other investors in the Series C round include Sequoia CapitalYunfeng CapitalICBC International and IDG Capital. China Money Network has more here.


EnsoData, a three-year-old, Madison, Wi.-based artificial intelligence company that caters to the sleep medicine community, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding led by Colle Capital, with participation from HealthX VenturesSternhill AssociatesWisconsin Investment Partners, and M25 GroupMore here.


FreshAddress, a 19-year-old, Newton, Ma.-based email marketing database services company, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from TZP Growth PartnersMore here.


Finch Therapeutics, a four-year-old, Somerville, Ma.-based microbiome therapeutics company that uses machine learning algorithms to reverse engineer successful fecal transplantations and other clinical datasets, has raised $36 million in Series B financing. Investors included Shumway CapitalWillett Advisors,Morgan Noble and Avenir Growth CapitalMore here.


Magazino, a four-year-old, Munich, Germany-based maker of mobile warehouse robots, has raised $24.8 million in funding. Körber Group led the round, with participation from other investors, including CellcomZalando and Fiege LogisticsMore here.


NestAway, a nearly four-year-old, Bengaluru, India-based home rental startup, has raised $51 million in Series D funding from Goldman Sachs and UC-RNT Fund. Earlier investors IDG India and Tiger Global Management also participated in the round. The Hindu has more here.


Saturas, a nearly five-year-old, Israel-based agricultural startup whose sensing system collects real-time data and transmits it to farmers’ automated irrigation control systems, has raised $4 million in funding. Investors include Hubei Forbon Technology Co., Gefen Capital and the Israeli collective farm Ramat Magshimim. AgFunder News has more here.


Scalefast, a four-year-old, Manhattan Beach, Ca.-based direct-to-consumer digital commerce platform that helps lifestyle brands with everything from design to customer service to back-office accounting, has raised $8 million in Series A funding. BGV led the round; other participants included Adara Ventures, B&YFrench Partners and CIC CapitalMore here.


Tagnos, an eight-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based company whose SaaS platform analyzes data from clinical systems to facilitate patient flow through the hospital, has raised $5 million in funding, including from Benhamou Global VenturesMorpheus Ventures and Zebra VenturesMore here.


TickX, a three-year-old, Manchester, U.K.-based startup behind a search engine and discovery platform for events and other “attractions” tickets, has raised £3 million ($4.1 million) in Series A funding. BGF Ventures led the round, with participation from earlier backers Ministry of Sound and 24Haymarket. TechCrunch has more here.


Trizic, a 5.5-year-old, San Francisco-based cloud based platform that enables its wealth management clients to interact with financial firms, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. Sorenson Ventures led the round, and was joined by investorsFISFreestyle CapitalBroadhaven Capital PartnersPEAK6 and Commerce VenturesMore here.





ABC News and The Atlantic are among several finalists interested in purchasing Nate Silver’s statistics and data analysis blog FiveThirtyEight from ESPNsays the WSJ.


An investor group led by former Obama official Maria Contreras-Sweet and billionaire Ron Burkle has agreed to an eleventh-hour $500 million takeover of The Weinstein CoMore here.





Publicly traded storage company Box fell 23 percent yesterday, after giving weak revenue guidance for the coming year. Its decline could dampen the prospects for competitor Dropbox, which is right now planning its IPO, says Seeking Alpha.




Garrett Camp, best known for being a co-founder of Uber and founder of the accelerator and venture fund Expa, is launching his own cryptocurrency.


Industry Ventures has promoted Lindsay Sharma and Ira Simkhovitch to principals on its secondaries investment team. Sharma joined the firm three-and-a-half years ago after working in corporate development at Intuit. Simkhovitch joined around the same time after working as an associate with the Carlyle Group.


Uber cofounder and former CEO Travis Kalanick is joining the board of his friend’s medical office software company, Kareo.


Brian Koo’s offshoot of Formation 8 is done investing out of its debut fund and doesn’t plan new fundraising.


China is using a recent tweet from Elon Musk as a propaganda tool to promote its infrastructure development.


Terminator-style artificial intelligence scenarios are just “one to two decades away,” former Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt told a terrified audience at a security conference in Munich this week.


Zenreach, a WiFi marketing startup that has raised $80 million from high-profile investors, including Joe Lonsdale, Peter Thiel and Marc Andreessen, just laid off 20 percent of its employees. Its CEO has also been replaced.





Touchdown Ventures, the nearly four-year-old outfit that partners with corporations and helps them manage their own venture capital platforms, is hiring a venture capital analyst in Philadelphia and an associate in San Francisco. It’s also looking for an MBA intern to help it out this spring and summer. (That role is in San Francisco, too.)


Essential Reads


Instagram might add video and voice calling.


Ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft are delivering pitiful levels of take-home pay to the hundreds of thousands of U.S. independent contractors, according to an MIT CEEPR study.


Last week, three-year-old social network Vero had fewer than 150,000 downloads. Now it has nearly 3 million. But as the app has grown in popularity, the company and its founder have come under scrutiny.





Seth Meyer takes a closer look at Jared Kushner.


Retail Therapy




StrictlyVC: March 1, 2018

Well, hello! Great hearing from so many of you yesterday.:) We’re sorry to say our T-shirts are all gone (well, they are accounted for; we’ll be shipping them out this weekend). But we promise to keep the rest of you in mind for future spillover swag.


We also have photos from the event coming soon and some coverage below, with much more on the way. Hope you’re having a good Tuesday.


Top News


U.S. stocks plunged today after Donald Trump promised to impose substantial tariffs on foreign metals.


DoorDash has gotten the Softbank Vision Fund treatment. The San Francisco-based food delivery company just sealed up $535 million in Series D funding at a whopping $1.4 billion post-money valuation, says TechCrunch. (Recode says it was only looking for a measly $200 million.) Along with Softbank, earlier backers Sequoia CapitalGIC and Wellcome Trust also joined the round.


Here’s where else Softbank has invested its $100 billion fund so far.


Sponsored By . . .


Fintech startups, how does $250K sound? What about unparalleled access to the banking, financial services, and nonprofit areas where your customers are? Yes? Then be sure to apply for the next class of the Financial Solutions Lab. This highly influential virtual accelerator (today’s StrictlyVC sponsor) has helped the likes of Dave.comPoint, EarnUp, Nova Credit and more to scale their products and navigate the complicated side of fintech. Apply now!



Caterina Fake on Turning Down VC Role a Decade Ago: “I Just Kind of Didn’t Fit In”


Ten years ago, not long after Yahoo had acquired Flickr,  its cofounder, Caterina Fake, bounded up and down Sand Hill Road taking meetings with venture firms that were interested in hiring her. She knew most of them. In fact, she already knew a lot of investors at that point. Flickr was created out of a photo-sharing feature for another product that Fake and cofounder Stewart Butterfield had been working on that she calls “an abysmal failure.” And “when you have a failed pitch,” says Fake, “you meet many more venture capitalists than you really want to.”


When Flickr was acquired — as Fake told an audience of founders and investors at a StrictlyVC event earlier this week —  “I figured I’d have a sniff around and see, Is this my world? Would I like it? Is venture for me? I never really considered this as a career opportunity.” The answer became apparent pretty quickly. “I’d go in and it was like, ‘One of these things is not like the other.’ I’d look around at all of these dudes and I was like, ‘I don’t know if this is for me. I’m feeling like this is not my place. . .  I don’t dress like ya’ll. I have an English degree.’ I just kind of didn’t fit in.”


It’s because “everything has changed since then — everything,” she says, that Fake, who has cofounded four companies altogether, is now jumping into the venture game full time. As we reported in January, after years of investing as an individual —  including in Etsy  (whose board she chaired for many years), Kickstarter, and Coursera  — Fake and partner Jyri Engeström are currently raising up to $50 million from institutions and family offices, including that of Nokia’s chairman Risto Siilasmaa.


She has largely been inspired by the growing numbers of women in both entrepreneurship and venture capital, suggested Fake. But her interest in turning pro, so to speak, seems even more rooted in the faith that Fake has in her own instincts. It paid off with Etsy, for example, which she recognized early as part of a burgeoning social movement toward craftsmanship and away from big-box retail, whereas “people in the Valley” that she introduced to the deal “were like, ‘So this is a bunch of people knitting and selling scarves?’”


Right now, Fake said she sees an opportunity to get in front of the next parade.


More here.


New Fundings


Astranis, a nearly three-year-old, San Francisco-based company that’s building wine-cooler-size satellites that are capable of delivering broadband internet services around the globe, has raised $13.5 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. Other participants in the round include Y CombinatorRefactor CapitalIndicator Fund, and Fifty Years. Forbes has more here.


Blueprint Income, a four-year-old, New York-based fintech startup that’s building a way for consumers to more easily buy what has notoriously been a hard sell — annuity contracts, has raised $2.75 million in seed funding co-led by NextView Ventures and Green Visor Capital. Other participants in the deal include the Center for Financial Services Innovation FinLabCore Innovation Capital,Kairos VenturesJean Chatzky, and Plug ’n PlayMore here.


Bugcrowd, a 5.5-year-old, San Francisco-based bug bounty platform, has raised $26 million in Series C funding led by Triangle Peak Partners. Other investors in the round include HostplusFirst State Super and earlier backers Blackbird VenturesCostanoa VenturesIndustry VenturesPaladin Capital Group,Rally VenturesSalesforce Ventures and Stanford. TechCrunch has more here.


Coalition, a year-old, San Francisco-based cyber insurance startup, has raised $10 million in Series A funding, including from Vy CapitalRibbit CapitalValor Equity Partners, and Y Combinator’s Sam AltmanMore here.


Cota, a New York City-based oncology-focused startup that relies on real-world evidence to deliver precision medicine, has closed on $40 million in Series C funding led by IQVIA. Other participants included EW Healthcare PartnersMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterBoston Millennia PartnersHorizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New JerseyHackensack Meridian Health and Atoc Holdings. MedCity News has more here.


Credy, a year-old, Bengaluru, India-based online lending platform that graduated from Y Combinator’s winter class last year, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding from YCKhosla VenturesVy Capital and numerous individual investors. Inc. 42 has more here.


Helix, a three-year-old, San Carlos, Ca.-based startup focused on personal genomics, has raised $200 million in Series B financing led by DFJ Growth, with participation from other investors that include IlluminaKleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersMayo ClinicSutter Hill Ventures and Warburg PincusMore here.



Hi Guides, a three-year-old, China-based ride-hailing and tour-guide company, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by Sequoia Capital China, with participation from Concord Investments and Matrix Partners China. China Money Network has more here.


Perfect Day, a four-year-old, Berkeley, Ca.-based animal-free dairy, has raised $24.7 million in new funding led by Temasek, with participation from Continental GrainIconiq CapitalHorizons VenturesLion Ventures and Verus International. Forbes has more here.

Rubius Therapeutics, a four-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based biotech that’s trying to turn our own red blood cells into new medicines, has raised $100 million in new funding from unnamed mutual funds and institutional investors. The company had raised $120 million last summer, with only Flagship Pioneering — which incubated the company —  as its only disclosed investor. Business Insider has more here.


Smartcar, a 4.5-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based under-the-radar connected car platform, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz, which had previously given the company $2 million in seed funding. VentureBeat has more here.


TCGplayer, a 19-year-old, Syracuse, N.Y.-based online marketplace for collectible gaming items (rare Pokemon and Magic cards, etc.), has raised $10 million from Radian CapitalMore here.


Virtualitics, a 1.5-year-old Pasadena, Ca.-based company that’s developing data visualization and analytics tools for AR/VR developers, has raised $7 million in Series B funding led by Centricus, with participation from earlier investor The VR Fund. TechCrunch has more here.


Woebot Labs, a year-old, San Francisco-based startup whose chatbot who helps monitor moods, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from the AI FundMore here.


Zomato, a 10-year-old, Gurgaon, India-based food delivery company, has raised $150 million from Alibaba at a valuation north of $1 billion. Your Story has more here.





German carmaker Daimler has been steadily investing in a stream of new transportation services as it positions itself for the next generation of car ownership and travel, reports TechCrunch. Today, it consolidated its position in one of those business, paying €70 million ($85 million) to buy the remaining 25 percent of car-sharing company car2Go that it didn’t already own. The deal values car2Go at €280 million ($342.5 million). More here.


LittleThings, a 4.5-year-old, New York-based digital publisher focused on inspirational and how-to content for women, shut down yesterday, a move it traces to an algorithm change at Facebook. The startup had raised an undisclosed amount of debt funding from City National Bank. TechCrunch has more here.


Venture-backed has acquired for undisclosed terms a Chicago-based company called SIM Partners that specializes in location marketing technology. SIM Partners’s backers included River Cities Capital Funds and Jump Capital. Reputation, which tries to track and improve online reviews, social media and more for its clients, is backed by Bessemer Venture Partners, August Capital, and Icon Ventures, among others. More here.




China wants one of its biggest tech unicorns to go public at home, says the WSJ. Authorities have reportedly asked smartphone maker Xiaomi, which is already planning a Hong Kong IPO, to list its shares on the mainland, too. More here.




With some smartphone models pushing $1,000, people aren’t upgrading their phones nearly as quickly as they once did. “Smartphones now resemble the car industry very closely,” a spokesman for B-Stock Solutions, the world’s largest platform for trade-in and overstock phones, tells the WSJ. “I still want to drive a Mercedes, but I’ll wait a couple of years to buy the older model. Same mentality.”



Essential Reads


The SEC “has issued dozens of subpoenas and information requests to technology companies and advisers involved in the red-hot market for cryptocurrencies,”reports the WSJ. Digital tokens are rising in price anyway.


Uber just launched a new business line called Uber Health to provide ride-hailing services specifically to healthcare providers wanting to more easily assign rides for their patients and clients from a centralized dashboard, whether or not these rider have the Uber app or even a smartphone, says TechCrunch.


Morale at Snap isn’t so great, reports Bloomberg.




Cable TV at its finest.


How you wind up with a $1,635.93 Uber fare.


What the world’s largest family tree tells us about marriage and death in the West.


Retail Therapy


Porsche 911s. (Skiers not included.)


StrictlyVC: February 28, 2018

Last night was so fun! We loved seeing everyone who came (nice landscape shothere). Thanks again to our fantastic guest speakers Marten Mickos, Ryan Williams, Caterina Fake, Tina Sharkey, Vlad Tenev, Medha Agarwal and Kate Conger. Thanks to our brilliant volunteers from UC Berkeley: Sahar Afrakhan, Sahar Yousef, and Davey Bloom. Thanks to very generous staff at NEA who helped make the night possible, and thank you, Morrison Foerster and Anduin, for your much-appreciated support as sponsors.


We’re still playing catch-up but we’ll have coverage and photos for you soon. In the meantime, because we usually run out of StrictlyVC T-shirts at these things, we doubled the order and have about 20 sitting in a box at our feet. If you’d like one, let us know and we’ll ship it your way. (U.S. readers only please, unless you don’t mind paying for international shipping, in which case, we’re happy to send you a shirt, too.) First come, first served; just write us back at this address.:)



Top News


Amazon is buying the Santa Monica, Ca.-based smart doorbell company Ring for more than $1 billion in its continuing effort to make inroads into our homes. Here’s more on the deal and what motivated it. Meanwhile, here’s who is “ringing” the register this morning, thanks to the tie-up. (Had to.)


Grail, a two-year-old Menlo Park, Ca-based cancer detection startup that’s very well-funded and competing against a number of other, similarly well-funded rivals, may seek an IPO of up to $500 million in Hong Kong, says Bloomberg. The outlet observes that Grail could become one of the first companies to benefit from proposed new listing rules aimed at attracting early stage biotechnology firms to the Hong Kong bourse.


Music streaming service Spotify is going public, and it just revealed its S-1. Here’s much more about what it tells us.



Sponsored By . . .


Fintech startups, how does $250K sound? What about unparalleled access to the banking, financial services, and nonprofit areas where your customers are? Yes? Then be sure to apply for the next class of the Financial Solutions Lab. This highly influential virtual accelerator has helped the likes of Digit, Even, EarnUp, Nova Credit and more to scale their products and navigate the complicated side of fintech. Apply now (or before April 11, 2018).


Triplebyte Just Raised $10 Million for its “Background Blind” Tech Recruiting Platform


Triplebyte is a three-year-old, 25-person, San Francisco-based hiring platform that says it makes recruiting and technical screening for tech companies more efficient. It’s hardly alone in making this claim, of course. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a tech recruiting platform that claims to improve on the ways that companies identify and recruit talented engineers. Still, Triplebyte  makes a persuasive case for why hiring companies should give it a shot.


One of its biggest differentiators, it says, is that its process is “background blind,” meaning it’s ostensibly able to get engineers in front of companies that might not otherwise be interested in them based on their past employers or education. How? By operating like an applied research company, insists cofounder and CEO Harj Taggar — who, before launching Triplebyte, spent the previous five years as a partner with Y Combinator.


Triplebyte’s first steps involved extensively interviewing engineers in the YC alumni network, capturing every data point possible before applying machine learning to better understand both automated assessment tests and human technical reviews (which typically involve an engineer interviewing an engineering candidate).


Because it was limited to Y Combinator companies, that data set was fairly small to start, but it was enough to create an adaptive multiple-choice automated assessment test that began producing results. Over time, companies that aren’t affiliated with YC — including Apple, Stripe, Dropbox and Instacart — began trying out Triplebyte for their hiring needs.


Triplebyte smartly used the development to entice a broader pool of engineers to the platform, which broadened the data points it was collecting, making the platform smarter still. Now,  Taggar says, the company’s automated assessment test is so good that Triplebyte makes companies agree that the Triplebyte candidates with whom they engage will be fast-tracked through the application process and not given further phone screens or coding challenges.


It’s a bold demand and one that could presumably backfire on Triplebyte should it rack up enough unhappy customers.


More here.


New Fundings


Aurora, the nearly two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based self-driving startup cofounded by Chris Urmson (formerly the chief technology officer of Alphabet’s self-driving arm), has raised a whopping $90 million in Series A funding co-led by Greylock Partners and Index Ventures. Indeed, Urmson tells TechCrunch the most crucial part of the deal are the two, high-profile new board members now joining Aurora’s board: Greylock’s Reid Hoffman, who formerly foundedLinkedIn, and Index’s Mike Volpi, who previously ran Cisco’s routing business. More here.


ByteCubed, a 7.5-year-old, Arlington, Va.-based tech consultancy for commercial and federal government customers, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Enlightenment CapitalMore here.

Collective Health, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based developer of a workforce health management system, has raised $110 million in new funding from Sun Life FinancialMubadala Ventures and earlier investors NEAFounders FundGV and Maverick Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


Edgybees, a nearly two-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based startup whose technology enables augmented reality on high-speed platforms like drones and cars, has raised $5.5 million in seed funding, including from Motorola Solutions Venture CapitalVerizon Ventures8VCNFXAspect Ventures and Israeli crowdfunding platform OurCrowd. TechCrunch has more here.


Eko Devices, a 4.5-year-old, Berkeley, Ca.-based maker of an “intelligent” digital stethoscope that was cleared by the FDA nine months ago, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Artis Ventures, with participation from Strategic PartnersDreamlt Ventures1812 Ventures and Founder.orgMore here.


Gaana, a Noida, India-based music streaming app, has raised $115 million from Tencent and controlling shareholder Times Internet. (Tencent also backed India-based Flipkart and Ola last year.) Bloomberg has more here.


Inscripta, a three-year-old, Boulder, Colo.-based gene editing technology company, has raised $55.5 million in Series C funding co-led by Mérieux Développement and Paladin Capital Group. The Denver Post has more here on the company, which raised $23 million in Series B funding just last year.


Mist, a nearly four-year-old, Cupertino, Ca-based startup that’s designing self-learning wireless networks, has raised $46 million in Series C funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Other participants in the round include Lightspeed Venture PartnersNorwest Venture PartnersGVNTT DOCOMO Ventures and Dimension Data. SiliconAngle has more here.


Nomad Health, a three-year-old, New York-based online marketplace for healthcare jobs, has raised $12 million in Series B funding led by Polaris Partners, with participation from First Round CapitalRRE Ventures and .406 VenturesMore here.


Quentis Therapeutics, a two-year-old, New York-based biotech company that focuses on treating cancer patients, has raised $48 million in Series A funding, including from Versant VenturesPolaris PartnersAbbVie VenturesTaiho PharmaceuticalYonghua CapitalAlexandria Venture Investments and New York Ventures, the investment arm of Empire State Development. More here.


Viela Bio, a new Gaithersburg, Md.-based AstraZeneca spin-out that’s focused on inflammation and autoimmune diseases, has raised $250 million in Series A funding from Boyu Capital6 Dimensions CapitalHillhouse CapitalTemasek and Sirona Capital. FierceBiotech has more here.



New Funds


Heuristic Capital, a 1.5-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based early-stage, hardware-focused venture firm, has raised $34 million for its debut fund, shows an SEC filing.


Kindred Capital, a new European-focused venture capital firm, has closed one of Europe’s largest-ever seed funds with £80 million ($110 million). Kindred is also operating what it’s calling an “equitable venture” model, in which every entrepreneur in its portfolio will also receive a stake in the fund. (It’s the same model or very similar to that employed in the U.S. by the venture firm Upside Partnership, which gives every founding team that it backs a piece of its own carry.) More here.


Sante Ventures, a 12-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based venture firm that invests in early-stage life sciences and healthcare companies, is looking to raise up to $200 million for its third fund, shows an SEC filingMore here.




Chorus, a year-old, San Francisco-based social fitness startup founded by former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, is shutting down. It had raised $9 million in venture funding, including from Index Ventures, where Costolo serves as a mentor. Business Insider talked with Costolo about what went wrong.





iQiyi, a nearly eight-year-old, Netflix-style service in China that was created and is still largely owned (70 percent) by Baidu, has filed for a $1.5 billion IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker IQ. Variety has more here.


NIO, the Shanghai, China-based electric car maker formerly known as NextEv, has hired eight banks, including Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, to work on a planned U.S. stock market listing this year worth up to $2 billion, reports Reuters.





Gun-control activists are demanding that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos do something he has carefully avoided: pick a side in a hot-button political debate


Frances Frei, who was hired to fix what ailed Uber’s broken culture and put its controversial CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick on the right path, is leaving the company, says Recode.


Asif Giga has joined Ericsson Ventures as an investment director. Giga was previously a director with Experian Ventures and, before that, an investor with Singtel.


Lindsey Maule, who became the head of cryptocurrency research at Precursor Ventures back in August, has left to focus full time on Luna Capital, a cryptocurrency-focused hedge fund where her title is CEO and general partner. Before joining Precursor, Maule was a growth strategist at the custom apparel startup Teespring.


Nick Nash is leaving his role as group president of Sea, the Singapore-based games and e-commerce company that went public in the U.S. last year, to start his own startup fund. Sea announced that Nash will exit the company at the end of 2018, giving it plenty of time to transition and find a replacement. TechCrunch has the story here.


Rodolfo Rosini, a U.K.-based serial entrepreneur, is becoming a venture capitalist, having joined the Hong Kong-based AI and machine learning-focused accelerator as a partner, says TechCrunch.



Essential Reads


Google has brought Hangouts Chat, its Slack competitor, out of beta.


Twitter is finally rolling out a “save for later” feature called Bookmarks.


LinkedIn wasn’t built for low-skilled job seekers, so Facebook is barging in.




Everything you never knew about “Sesame Street.”


This real-life Ray Donovan protects spurned lovers in high-profile divorces.


My Own Way,” sung by a teenage Amy Winehouse.


Retail Therapy


Transparent Speaker(s).


StrictlyVC: February 27, 2018

Tuesday! We are *so* excited to see those of you coming tonight to our first event of the year(!). One quick mention: There’s a bit of construction happening on the first floor of NEA’s South Park building. It sounds like things will be tidied up by the time the doors open for the event but you may see papered-over walls and windows. You’re still in the right place. Just head up the stairs.:)


Top News


Amazon is reportedly on track to become a $1 trillion company in 18 months.



Sponsored By . . .


Today, StrictlyVC is sponsored by the Financial Solutions Lab at the Center for Financial Services Innovation, which will unveil its 2018 class of startups at EMERGE in Los Angeles this June. Want to see who they’ll be — and mingle with all kinds of fintech and finserv influencers? Register now for EMERGE and save $150 off current rates with code: STRICTLYVC.



New Fundings


Citadel Defense Company, a two-year-old, San Diego-based drone system developer, has raised $12 million in Series A funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners (alone). More here.


Current, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based startup behind an app-controlled debit card aimed at tweens and teens, has added $1 million in funding to its Series A round. The newest investor is Fifth Third Capital, a direct equity investment subsidiary of Fifth Third Bancorp. The company had previously raised $5 million in Series A funding in October from QED Investors and Cota Capital. TechCrunch has more here.


CyberX, a nearly-five-year-old, Boston-based industrial control system security company, has raised $18 million in Series B funding in a round that brings its total funding to $30 million. Norwest Venture Partners led the financing, with participation from earlier investors Glilot Capital PartnersFlint Capitalff Venture Capital, and OurCrowd. (For what it’s worth, the company’s first check came from UpWest Labs, which we profiled last week.) More here.


Industrious, a five-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company that pitches itself as a premium alternative to WeWork and is aggressively chasing the same business customers, has raised $80 million in Series C funding co-led by Riverwood Capital and Fifth Wall Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


Niche, a four-year-old, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based platform that tries to make choosing a college, K-12 school, or place to live a more transparent process, has raised $6.6 million in Series B funding from Allen & Company and Grit Capital. More here and here.


Peakon, a nearly two-year-old, London- and Copenhagen-based online employee engagement platform, has raised $22 million in funding led by Balderton Capital, with participation from earlier investors EQT VenturesIdinvest Partners, and Sunstone. TechCrunch has more here.


Senti Biosciences, a two-year-old, South San Francisco, Ca.-based startup that says it has pioneered new technology platforms to design synthetic gene circuits for adaptive cell and gene therapies, just raised $53 million in Series A funding. NEAled the deal, and it was joined by 8VCAmgen VenturesPear VenturesLux CapitalMenlo VenturesAllen & CompanyNest.BioOmega Funds,Goodman Capital, and LifeForce Capital. Business Insider has more here.


New Funds


Blossom Capital, a new London-based venture firm cofounded by Ophelia Brown (formerly of LocalGlobe and Index Ventures), is in the process of raising between $75 million and $100 million for its debut fund. The capital will reportedly be used to fund European startups. TechCrunch has more here.




PhishMe, a seven-year-old startup that helps companies train employees to avoid phishing scams, announced today that it has been purchased by private equity firms BlackRock and Pamplona Capital Management for undisclosed terms, though a company spokesperson said the company was valued in the deal at $400 million. TechCrunch tries to parse what that means exactly here.





The job review website Glassdoor could go public in 2018, according to Bloomberg, which says the company is currently interviewing banks to advise on an IPO. Glassdoor has raised more than $200 million in venture capital, with its newest round (in 2016) done at a valuation north of $1 billion. More here.




Pinterest has hired its first COOFrancoise Brougher, who was most recently business lead at Square and, prior to that, VP of SMB global sales and operations at Google.


Trump just named Brad Parscale his campaign manager for 2020. We’d written about an interview with Parscale late last year, where he outlined how Facebook helped Trump win his 2016 campaign.


A look at gun-slinger Masayoshi Son and Softbank’s broader spending spree.


Craig Wright, the self-proclaimed inventor of bitcoin, is accused of swindling more than $5 billion worth of the cryptocurrency and other assets from the estate of a computer-security expert.




Here’s who owns everything in “big media” right now. (Graph.)


Google’s Bay Area real estate empire is reportedly equivalent to 14 Salesforce towers.




Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce giant, is looking to add an investment associate to its corporate development team. The job is in San Mateo, Ca.


Essential Reads


Speaking of Rakuten, it’s planning a new cryptocurrency called Rakuten Coin — built on blockchain technology and the company’s existing loyalty program, Rakuten Super Points — that it plans to use to encourage loyalty services globally and to help customers to buy goods across different Rakuten services and markets. TechCrunch has more here.


Earlier this month, Amazon began offering one- and two-hour Whole Foodsdeliveries through its Prime Now service. Now, Walmart fighting back. Its membership warehouse club, Sam’s Club, announced today a partnership with Instacart that allows shoppers to order groceries and other household goods for same-day delivery. More here.


Veteran Wall Street enforcers are landing new roles on a wild frontier: virtual currencies.





The afterlife of Pablo Escobar.


Barbra Streisand cloned her dog. Twice.


Twelve ways to kill your upstairs neighbors with their own bongos.


Retail Therapy


Ours, too.


StrictlyVC: February 26, 2018

Monday! Hope you’re enjoying yours.:) (No column today.)


Top News


Apple is planning to release the largest iPhone ever later this year.


Facebook has agreed to pay $35 million to settle claims that its officers and directors misled investors in the company’s 2012 initial public offering. Facebook didn’t admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement, whose court filing was made public today.


Sponsored By . . .


Today, StrictlyVC is sponsored by the Financial Solutions Lab at the Center for Financial Services Innovation, which will unveil its 2018 class of startups at EMERGE in Los Angeles this June. Want to see who they’ll be — and mingle with all kinds of fintech and finserv influencers? Register now for EMERGE and save $150 off current rates with code: STRICTLYVC.


New Fundings


Danke Apartment, a three-year-old, Beijing, China-based online apartment rental platform, has raised $100 million in Series B funding led by CMC Capital and Banyan Capital, with participation from Bertelsmann Asia InvestmentsVision Plus CapitalYoujin Capital, and Joy Capital. The company reportedly raised $14 million in Series A funding last year. China Money Network has more here.


Food by Rail, a 10-month-old, Orlando, Fl.-based maker of refrigerated boxcars for moving food and beverages by rail, has raised $5 million in Series A funding from undisclosed investors. More here.


Joberate, a nearly four-year-old, Nashua, N.H.-based startup whose software as a service aims to help companies find and recruit talent faster and more cost effectively, has raised $1.2 million in fresh seed funding led by Falmouth VenturesMore here.


Kaliti, a seven-year-old, Paris-based property development and renovation project management tool provider, has raised €4 million ($4.9 million) in funding, including from Entrepreneur Venture and Capital & Dirigeants Partenaires.


May Mobility, a year-old, Ann Arbor, Mi.-based autonomous vehicle company at work on self-driving micro-shuttles, has raised $11.5 million in seed funding co-led by BMW iVentures and Toyota AI Ventures. Other investors in the company include Maven VenturesSV AngelTandem VenturesTrucks Ventures, and Y CombinatorMore here.


PawnGuru, a three-year-old, Ann Arbor, Mi.-based online marketplace connecting pawn shops and consumers, has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding co-led by Impact America Fund and Invest Detroit Ventures, with participation from angel investors. More here.


Prodsmart, a nearly six-year-old, San Francisco-based real-time process tracking platform for production lines and job shops, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding, including from Join CapitalCaixa CapitalInnovation Nest, and numerous Portuguese angel investors. More here.


ZEDEDA, a two-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based startup that’s aiming to make it easier for companies to deploy and run real-time edge apps at “hyperscale,” has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Wild West Capital, with participation from Almaz CapitalBarton Capital, and former Motorola CEO Ed ZanderMore here.


ZenBusiness, a three-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based startup that provides free business formation services, has raised $4.5 million in seed funding led by Lerer Hippeau Ventures, with participation from GreycroftSlow Ventures, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest fund and Founders FundMore here.



New Funds


Causeway Media Partners, a Boston-based growth equity firm that focuses on sports media and sports tech-related companies, says it has closed its second fund with $211.3 million in capital commitments, exceeding its $175 million target. We’d talked with firm cofounder Bob Higgins about the firm when it first hit the scene in 2014. More on what it’s up to now here.


East Ventures, an Indonesia and South East Asia-focused venture capital firm that’s been active in the region since 2010, is planning a $100 million seventh fund that it will begin raising this year, according to DealStreetAsia. If successful, the vehicle will be more than three times as big as the outfit’s last fund, which it closed with $30 million last fall.


MPM Capital, the 22-year-old, Boston-based early-stage life sciences investment firm, is looking to raise a new $400 million venture fund, according an SEC filing.More here.


RRE Ventures, the 24-year-old, New York-based venture firm, has raised $218.75 million for its seventh fund, shows a new SEC filing that lists $250 million as the fund’s target. The firm had closed its sixth fund with $280 million in 2014. Steve Schlafman, a younger partner who joined the firm in 2013, announced last fall that he was leaving, though he hasn’t yet disclosed publicly what’s next.




500px, a photo-sharing site that was once poised to take on Flickr and Getty, has been acquired by Visual China Group, a strategic investor in 500px via previous financings. Publicly traded VCG, which is sort of like China’s Getty, bought Corbis in 2016 and is now the world’s third-largest visual content provider. TechCrunch has much more here.


Circle, a cryptocurrency-focused financial-services firm, announced today that it is buying crypto exchange Poloniex—a move that “immediately makes Circle one of the largest and most influential companies in the industry,” says Fortune. More here.


Nokia is acquiring Unium, a 16-year-old, Seattle, Wa-based software company that specializes in solving complex wireless networking problems for use in mission-critical and residential Wi-Fi applications. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed but according to Crunchbase, Unium had raised roughly $27 million from investors. TechCrunch has more here.


A bit afield but still notable: Weinstein Co. is planning to file for bankruptcy following the collapse of sales talks with an investor group, says Dealbook.





You may soon be able to “own Aston Martin” even if you can’t afford to own anAston Martin. The British luxury brand said today that it’s considering an IPO after turning its first profit since 2010.


Sunlands Online Education Group, a 15-year-old, China-based online education service, has filed to raise up to $300 million in an IPO on the NYSE. China Money Network has more here.




Changes are afoot at BGF Ventures, the young, London-based early-stage venture fund of BGF, with three partners leaving the outfit, says TechCrunch.


CNBC caught Ravjeev Misra, the CEO of the SoftBank Vision Fund, at Mobile World Congress today and asked him about Uber’s global domination plans. Misra suggested that he supports them, despite earlier hints that Softbank would prefer that Uber to steer clear of Asia. Video here.


Reports last month that rapper 50 Cent had forgotten about $7 million or so in bitcoin he owned have been given the lie by the man himself, who declares in court documents that he “has never owned, and does not now own, a bitcoin account or any bitcoin.” TechCrunch has the story here.




G2VP, a new fund led by four partners (Ben Kortlang, Brook Porter, David Mount, Daniel Oros) who have worked together for the last ten years as partners at Kleiner Perkins’s $1 billion Green Growth Fund, are looking to hire an analyst or associate. The job is in Menlo Park, Ca.



Essential Reads


A file that Apple updated on its website last month provides the first acknowledgment that it’s relying on Google’s public cloud for data storage for its iCloud services.


The success or failure of Dropbox will likely reflect on Y Combinator and its status as a Silicon Valley kingmaker.




How to raise more grateful children.


Where the world’s highest-paid expats live.


Monica Lewinsky in the age of #MeToo.


Retail Therapy


Eleven pre-made Easter baskets. (Never fear, Easter Bunny. We won’t tell anyone.)


StrictlyVC: February 23, 2018

Friday! [Tumbles over jump rope.] Have a great weekend, everyone.:)


Top News


Dropbox has finally filed for its long-awaited S-1. You can start learning about what’s what here.


In the meantime, more here on the biggest winners, including: cofounder and CEO Drew Houston (he owns 25.3 percent), Sequoia Capital (it owns 23.2 percent), cofounder and CTO Arash Ferdowski (he owns 10.3 percent), Accel Partners (it owns 5 percent), and T. Rowe Price (it holds 3.5 percent).


Interestingly, Dropbox will be the first Y Combinator company to go public.



Sponsored By . . .


Today’s StrictlyVC is sponsored by Siftery Track. As a reader, get free early access to Track and easily optimize your team’s software expenditures. Simply sync your credit card or accounting system, and Siftery Track will automatically create beautiful visualizations of your historic and forecasted spend. You’ll also get alerts for new products, duplicate charges, unexpected increases in spend, and more.


Jeremy Fiance, the 26-Year-Old Founder of House Fund, Ups His VC Ambitions


A little less than two years ago, we reported on Jeremy Fiance, a then 24-year-old recent UC Berkeley graduate who’d just taken the wraps off his new firm, The House Fund. It had secured $6 million in capital commitments from an array of individual investors, many of them venture capitalists, to fund startups coming out of UC Berkeley.


At the time, Fiance argued persuasively that the school — known for its academic rigor —  has largely and unwisely been overlooked by angel investors and VCs alike, sometimes owing simply to proximity. (Many investors live in communities that are closer to Stanford, roughly 40 miles away.)


He further sold himself on his own unique abilities to spot talent at UC Berkeley, including because as a freshman, in 2010, he’d brought to campus Kairos Society, a now 11-year-old organization that encourages budding entrepreneurs to tackle global-scale social challenges.


His salesmanship may be paying off. According to a three-month-old SEC filing spied earlier today by Axios, Fiance’s ambitions have already grown eightfold. At least, according to the filing, the House Fund is now raising upwards of $50 million for its second fund. (We’ve reached out Fiance for more information and will update this post if we hear more.)


Whether he can gather as much in capital commitments remains to be seen, but the diverse portfolio he has assembled suggests that Fiance — who counts VC and Cal alum Jeff Brody of Redpoint Ventures among his advisors — has made connections across the startup industry.


More here.


New Fundings


Amino Payments, a year-old, Philadelphia, Pa.-based payments company that says it combines technologies from blockchain, payments, and advertising to bring transparency to online advertising, has raised $4.5 million in seed funding. First Round Capital led the round and was joined by investors You & Mr Jones Brandtech VenturesNyca Investment Fund, and Tessera Capital Partners, among others. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more here.


Anchor Labs, a stealthy startup planning to provide digital asset custody services to institutional investors, has raised an undisclosed amount of money from Andreessen Horowitz, says Axios’s Kia Kokalitcheva. AH is also an early investor in the digital currency exchange Coinbase and according Kokalitcheva, Coinbase held acquisition talks with Anchor Labs before unveiling its own plans to provide a similar custody service to institutions late last year.


Complai, a 16-month-old, Austin, Tex.-based maker of a travel-spend tracking tool, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding led by Moonshots Capital, with participation from other investors, including Capital FactoryMore here.


Eventcore, a 33-year-old, Seattle, Wa.-based company maker of event planning and management software, has raised $4.1 million in funding led by East Seattle Partners. GeekWire has more here.


Feature Labs, a three-year-old, Boston-based company that automates feature engineering for machine learning and AI applications, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding led by Flybridge Capital Partners, with participation from First Star Ventures and 122 West Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


LegUp Computing, a nearly three-year-old, Toronto, Ontario-based cloud platform that enables software developers to program, deploy, and manage FPGA devices, has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding led by Intel CapitalMore here.


Ordermark, a year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based startup that simplifies online order management for restaurants, has raised $2.35 million from TenOneTenAct One, and MuckerMore here.


PROCEPT BioRobotics, a nine-year-old, Redwood Shores, Ca.-based surgical robotics company, has raised $118 million in funding led by Viking Global Investors, with participation from Perceptive Advisors and CPMG. More here.


QuasarDB, a 10-year-old, Paris-based developer of technologies to handle real-time data primarily for financial markets, raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by Partech Ventures, with participation from other investors, including OroliaMore here.


RecargaPay, an eight-year-old, Sao Paulo, Brazil-based mobile payments platform and wallet, has raised $22 million in Series B funding, including from IFCTheVentureCity, and VentechMore here.


Serial Box, a three-year-old, New York-based digital publisher of serial fiction, has raised $1.65 million in seed funding led by Boat Rocker Media.


Split, a nearly three-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based maker of tools for testing software features, has raised $17 million in Series B funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from Accel Partners and Harmony Partners. TechCrunch has more here.


Correction: Earlier this week, we told you about a $1.3 million seed round for Intello, a SaaS optimization startup. We also told you it was some months old and based in Queensland, Australia, but that’s another Intello. The newly seed-funded Intello is based in New York and it’s a year old. Apologies to cofounder Barak Kaufman, who received many confused emails from friends.:)


(Other) New Funds


SkyDeck, a startup accelerator program at UC Berkeley, has just closed a $24 million fund, more than twice its original target $10 million, it said in a release issued yesterday. Its investors include Sequoia CapitalAlibaba Holdings, and alumni through various investment vehicles. More here.




Eden, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based office management and tech support platform that has raised $15 million from investors, has acquired OrgOrg, an eight-year-old, social network for office managers to recommend, discuss, and review vendors and products. The terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.


Momo, a Chinese location-based social networking app, has acquired Tantan, a Chinese dating app, for $600.9 million in an all-cash deal that may help the two outfits better compete with WeChat. TechCrunch has much more here.





Elizabeth Cain has been promoted to partner at OpenView, where she was previously a VP.


Famous VC Vinod Khosla is now trying to persuade the Supreme Court to take up his case against surfers and other beachgoers who want public access to the beach outside his beachfront property.


Snap CEO Evan Spiegel is poised to become one of the highest-paid U.S. executives for 2017, thanks to a $636.6 million stock grant he received when Snap company went public.





Playground Global, the early-stage venture firm cofounded by Android’s co-creator Andy Rubin, is looking to hire a full-time associate. The job is in Palo Alto, Ca.



Essential Reads


Secretive data-analytics company Palantir must turn over internal files to one its early investors who has accused it of improperly blocking his efforts to sell his shares. The judge presiding over the battle said this week that “Palantir’s serial failure to convene annual stockholder meetings is problematic’’ because it raises questions about whether shareholders are getting information about the private firm’s operations. Bloomberg has more here.


The National Venture Capital Association announced yesterday that it has released a set of model documents and resources aimed at addressing sexual harassment in the industry.


The myth of the “hacker proof” voting machine.




Some of those instant pots that terrify people could be recalled. (They’re melting.)


Where top chefs go to eat out in London.


What you need to get into the 1 percent.


Retail Therapy


Beer bong syringe. (Submitted without comment.)

StrictlyVC: February 22, 2018

Hi! Happy Thursday, everyone.


Top News


Reality TV star Kylie Jenner wiped out $1.2 billion in Snap’s market value with a single tweet posted yesterday.


Sponsored By . . .


Today’s StrictlyVC is sponsored by Siftery Track. As a reader, get free early access to Track and easily optimize your team’s software expenditures. Simply sync your credit card or accounting system, and Siftery Track will automatically create beautiful visualizations of your historic and forecasted spend. You’ll also get alerts for new products, duplicate charges, unexpected increases in spend, and more.



Beauty Company Glossier Just Closed on $54 Million in Series C Funding


Glossier, the nearly four-year-old, direct-to-consumer beauty company, has landed $52 million in Series C funding in what it describes as a heavily oversubscribed round. The financing was led by earlier investors IVP and Index Ventures.


The New York-based company — which evolved out of the popular blog Into the Gloss by founder and CEO Emily Weiss — began selling its own make-up at the outset but has more recently added body and fragrance products, too, bringing its total number of offerings to 22. One of the company’s most popular products is a mascara-like eyebrow filler called Boy Brow. Among its newest: a solid version of its fragrance, You.


The company says it launches something new every six weeks, on average, and that it spends a lot of time working on its formulas. (A spokesperson tells us Glossier spent 15 months developing a new $24 exfoliant.) But Glossier is just as well-known for brand-building and its ability to grow consumer awareness in a highly crowded global beauty industry that’s expected to grow from $433 billion today to $750 billion by 2024, according to one estimate.


The 150-person company doesn’t disclosed its revenue numbers, but it tells us Glossier saw three times as much revenue last year as in 2016. It also opened offices in London and Montreal, after quietly acquiring a small Canadian digital strategy studio called Dynamo. (One of Dynamo’s cofounders, Bryan Mahoney, is now Glossier’s CTO.)


And Glossier opened up a sixth-floor showroom in the same SoHo building where its offices are located. Even without a street-level window, it generates more sales revenue per square foot than the average Apple store, Weiss told New York Magazine in a glowing cover story about Glossier that ran last month. (The story also referred to Weiss as the “millennials’ Estée Lauder.”)


More here.


New Fundings


Agent IQ, a 2.5-year-old, Bay Area-based startup that has developed customer service bots, has raised $6.3 million in Series A funding led by Sierra Ventures, with participation from CRCM and Rubicon Ventures. The company has now raised $8.5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


Beauty By Design, a two-year-old, L.A.-based personalized skincare platform, has raised $2.2 million in seed funding led by Resolute Ventures, with participation from Ludlow VenturesTenoneTen Ventures, and Troy Capital PartnersMore here.


Cota Healthcare, a New York-based healthcare data company that collects select oncological patient level data to provide real-time functions for oncologists, has raised $40 million in Series C financing led by IQVIA, with participation from EW Healthcare Partners and other investors. More here.


Dover Microsystems, a nearly eight-year-old, Framingham, Ma.-based cybersecurity company, raised $6 million in seed funding led by Hyperplane Venture Capital, with participation from DraperQualcomm Ventures, and the Hub Angels Investment Group. American Inno has more here.


Honcker, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based startup that acts as an aggregator and search engine for leasing services, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from IAC. TechCrunch has more here.


Indigo Fair, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based platform that helps small shop owners discover and try thousands of unique items from chocolates to travel goods risk-free, has raised $12 million in new funding from Forerunner Ventures and Khosla Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


KitSplit, a nearly three-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based startup that operates an online rental marketplace for creative equipment, has raised $2.1 million fromHearstLabEntrepreneurs Roundtable3311 VenturesNYU Innovation Venture FundWTI and Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger. TechCrunch has more here.


KKDay, a nearly four-year-old, Tapei, Taiwan-based startup whose online platform helps travelers find local activities, has raised $10.5 million in funding led by Japanese travel operator H.I.S., with participation from earlier backer MindWorks Ventures, a Hong Kong-based venture firm. TechCrunch has more here.


Lindora, a 46-year-old, Costa Mesa, Calif.-based weight loss management company that says it’s among the largest in the country, has raised an undisclosed amount of growth funding from investors, including Montage CapitalSolis Capital Partnersand Innovate PartnersMore here.


Meritize, a two-year-old, Frisco, Tex.-based educational lender, has raised $6.8 million in seed funding co-led by Colchis CapitalChicago Ventures, and Cube Financial HoldingsMore here.


ParkBee, a four-year-old, Amsterdam-based startup that lets private car parks monetize underutilized spaces by making them bookable to the public, has raised roughly $7 million in new funding led by the German-based outfit Statkraft Ventures, with participation from existing investors. TechCrunch has more here.


SpinLaunch, a three-year-old, Bay Area-based startup that’s aiming to blast cargo into space using a catapult,  is raising $30 million in Series A funding. (Does it sound less crazy if you know its founder sold his last company, a drone startup, to Google?) TechCrunch has much more here.


Teampay, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based company whose software enables businesses to request, approve, pay for, and track employee purchasing in real-time, has raised $4 million in funding led by Crosscut Ventures, with participation from KEC VenturesPrecursor VenturesCoVenture, and numerous other angels and other venture funds. TechCrunch has more here.


Tinyclues, an eight-year-old, Paris-based digital marketing company that says it uses AI to help its customers push the right products to the right customers at the right time, has raised $18 million in Series B funding led by EQT Ventures, with participation from earlier backers AlvenElaia Partners, and ISAI. TechCrunch has more here.


Vence, a 1.5-year-old, San Diego-based startup whose wearable device creates a kind of virtual fence for livestock like cattle, has raised $2.7 million in new funding led by Eniac Ventures, with participation from the venture capital arm of the Dutch investment bank, Rabobank. TechCrunch has more here.


Vision Esports, a year-old, Beverly Hills, Ca.-based holding company set up to invest in esports businesses, has raised $38 million in funding led by Evolution Media, the investment firm backed by CAA and private-equity fund TPG Growth. Other investors include the New York Yankees, NFL star Odell Beckham Jr.; NBA star Kevin Durant and his business partner Rich Kleiman; MLB’s St. Louis CardinalsShamrock Holdings, the private investment arm of the Disney family;Seth Bernstein Capital Management; and Simon Tikhman of First Access Entertainment. Variety has more here.


Work well win, a nine-month-old, New York-based flexible office space provider that’s touting the health benefits of the spaces it’s leasing (think air purification systems, etc.), has raised a whopping $22 million in seed funding from undisclosed investors it describes only as New York real estate investors. Interestingly, the company was founded by someone who’d spent the previous year as the head of domestic development at WeWork. More here.


New Funds


SaaS Ventures, a 1.5-year-old, Washington D.C.-based enterprise technology SaaS focused fund, has raised $10 million for its first fund, says Fortune; according to SEC filings, the outfit was earlier targeting upwards of $40 million.




Solium Capital, a Calgary-based maker of software-as-a-service for equity administration, financial reporting and compliance, has acquired Advanced-HR, a 21-year-old, San Francisco-based company that sells compensation data and compensation planning software to private and venture-backed companies. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.




SK Telecom Americas, the development arm of large South Korean telecommunications company SK Telecom, is looking to hire a full-time associate. The job is in Sunnyvale, Ca.




At the U.K. investment bank Barclays, women investment bankers earn 26 percent less than men and their bonuses are 60 percent lower, according to the lender’s annual report. Overall — and holy s — it pays women just under half as much as male colleagues. American Banker has more here.


Essential Reads


Voice-activated Siri AirPods could be coming.


Amazon is opening at least six more cashier-less stores in the U.S. this year.


Robinhood has opened cryptocurrency trading.




The meaning of “middle class” in Palo Alto.


When is a child Instagram-ready?


A clubby French bistro is ruffling feathers on New York’s Upper East Side.


Retail Therapy


Opus Camper. Just flip a switch and voila.


StrictlyVC: February 21, 2018

Hi, all!  Quick reminder that we’re now less than a week away from our first INSIDER event of 2018! We are *so* excited to see many of you, including guest speakers Vlad Tenev of Robinhood, Caterina Fake of Yes VC, Ryan Williams of Cadre, Tina Sharkey of Brandless, Marten Mickos of HackerOne, Medha Agarwal of Redpoint, and Kate Conger of Gizmodo.


Huge thanks again to New Enterprise Associates for generously offering to host this event. Much thanks, too, to the global law firm Morrison Foerster (MoFo), which works with startups at every stage, and Anduin, cofounded in recent years by Joe Lonsdale and Alin Bui to help companies close their private market transactions. We greatly appreciate their support.


Tickets are no longer available but we promise lots of coverage afterward; we’re also hoping to host another of these in the spring if we can swing it. In the meantime, happy Wednesday.:)


Top News


Bitcoin fell as much as 12 percent today, whipsawing investors who thought they could finally take a deep breath after last month’s volatility.


Despite surpassing analyst expectations for the quarter, digital streaming business Roku disappointed Wall Street when it shared its fourth-quarter earnings after the bell today; its shares fell roughly 18 percent in after-hours trading as a result.


Sponsored By . . .


Today’s StrictlyVC is sponsored by Siftery Track. As a reader, get free early access to Track and easily optimize your team’s software expenditures. Simply sync your credit card or accounting system, and Siftery Track will automatically create beautiful visualizations of your historic and forecasted spend. You’ll also get alerts for new products, duplicate charges, unexpected increases in spend, and more.


This Outfit Just Raised $18 Million Expressly to Bring Israeli Founders to the U.S.


The micro venture firm UpWest Labs was founded nearly six years ago in Palo Alto with one mission in mind: to bring Israeli founders to the U.S. when their companies are still nascent and provide them with enough financial and other resources to get going.


Why do this? UpWest’s founders, Shuly Galili and Gil Ben-Artzy, say it’s because startups can lose their shot at greatness if they aren’t exposed fast enough to U.S. customers — and U.S. investors.


The two came to this conclusion in their past lives, before they became investors. Galili had spent the previous 12 years as executive director at the California Israel Chamber of Commerce, often working to drum up the interest of U.S. companies and VCs in Israel-based companies.

She says she saw plenty of money in the ecosystem but a lack of understanding about the customers that Israeli companies were hoping to target, including in the U.S. “I always asked myself why founders weren’t spending more time here,” says Galili. “And the answer for a lot of them was that they couldn’t.”


Ben-Artzy, who’d moved from Israel to the U.S. to attend Wharton and later worked in corporate development and operations at Yahoo, saw the same in his job, he says.


A growing number of limited partners seems to buy into their vision of writing early, $250,000 checks to fledgling startups that want to head to California — as well as giving them a place to crash for a while. (The firm rents out a home in Menlo Park where founders can live until they’re able to get and running.)


More here.


New Fundings


4me, a nearly eight-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based startup that helps companies organize and track their IT outsourcing projects, has raised $1.65 million in seed funding led by Storm Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


Anyfin, a year-old, Stockholm-based startup that enables consumers to refinance their existing loans by sending in a picture of their monthly credit card bills or loan statements, has raised $5.9 million in Series A funding co-led by Accel Partners and Northzone, with participation from Global Founders CapitalMore here.


Capillary Technologies, a 10-year-old, Singapore-based maker of customer engagement software for retail customers, has raised $20 million from earlier investors, including Warburg Pincus and Sequoia Capital. The Economic Times has more here.


Carlease, a nearly five-year-old, Chicago-based startup that lets consumers lease cars without leaving the house, has raised $3.5 million in funding led by Lightbank. Built in Chicago has more here.


DecaWave, a 14-year-old, Ireland-based fabless semiconductor company, has raised $30 million in funding led by Atlantic Bridge Ventures, with participation from the China Ireland Growth Technology FundACT Venture Capital, and ZZ VenturesMore here.


Fever Labs, a 5.5-year-old, New York-based maker of an event discovery app, has raised $11.7 million in new funding, according to an SEC filing first flagged by Axios. More here.


FourKites, a 3.5-year-old, Chicago-based freight tracking and logistics tech company, has raised $35 million in Series B funding led by August Capital, with participation from Bain Capital Ventures and Hyde Park Venture Partners. The WSJ has more here.


Gabi, a two-year-old San Francisco-based online personal insurance shopper, has raised $9.5 million in Series A funding led by Canvas Ventures. Also joining the round were Correlation VenturesNorthwestern Mutual Future VenturesSecurian Ventures and earlier investors A.Capital Ventures and Project A. TechCrunch has more here.


Greenlight Financial Technology, a four-year-old Atlanta, Ga.-based maker of a smart debit card for kids and teens, has raised $16 million in Series A funding led by TTV Capital with participation from New Enterprise AssociatesRelay VenturesSunTrust BankAlly Financialnbkc bankCanapi, and the Amazon Alexa Fund. We profiled the company last year, when it was just a snuggly little seed-stage startup.


Intello, a months-old, Queensland, Australia-based SaaS optimization startup, has raised $1.3 million in seed funding led by Emerge, with participation from BoxGroupBlacktopKaedan and Tectonic, along with numerous angel investors, including The Muse founder Kathryn Minshew. TechCrunch has more here.


Mabl, a year-old, Boston-based startup aiming to make functional testing for developers as easy as possible, has raised $10 million in Series A funding from CRV and Amplify Partners. TechCrunch has more here.


Moovit, a six-year-old, Israel-based maker of a public transit app, has raised $50 million in Series D funding led by Intel Capital, with participation from Sequoia CapitalBMW iVenturesNGPSound VenturesBRMGeminiVaizra,Vintage, and Hanaco. Forbes has more here.


Prophesee, a nearly four-year-old, Paris-based machine vision startup at work on sensors and camera systems, has raised $19 million in Series B funding led by an undisclosed investor, with participation from 360 Capital PartnersSupernova Invest, iBionextIntel CapitalRenault Group, and Robert Bosch Venture Capital. has more here.


Signal, the seven-year-old encrypted chat app, has raised $50 million in funding from WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton and simultaneously launched the newly founded Signal Foundation nonprofit. TechCrunch has more here.


Templarbit, a year-old, San Francisco-based cybersecurity startup formed by former engineers at the bug-hunting startup Synack, have raised $3 million in funding led by 205 Capital, with participation from Y Combinator and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Fortune has more here.


Thirdpresence, an 11-year-old, Helsinki, Finland-based AI-driven programmatic video advertising company, has raised $2.4 million in seed funding, including from Inventure and Tesi. has more here.


Vectra Networks, a seven-year-old, San Jose, Ca-based security platform that identifies cyber-attacks while they are happening, has raised $36 million in fresh funding led by Atlantic Bridge Capital, with participation from Ireland Strategic Investment FundNissho Electronics Corp., and earlier backers Khosla VenturesAccel PartnersIA VenturesAME Cloud VenturesDAG Ventures and Wipro Ventures. The company has now raised $123 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


Zagster, an 11-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based bike-share service, has raised $15 million in new funding led by Edison Capital Partners. TechCrunch has more here.



New Funds


Singapore-based Insignia Ventures Partners, founded by former Sequoia Capital venture partner Yinglan Tan, has closed its debut fund with $120 million less than a year after Tan left Sequoia, sources tell DealStreet Asia. The outlet says it’s the “largest ever maiden vehicle by a venture capital firm in this region.” More here.




Ganesh Bell, former chief digital officer at GE and CEO at GE Power Digital, will become president of the Chicago-based startup Uptake later this month, reports Reuters. As readers might recall, Uptake was founded several years ago by Groupon cofounders Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky.


Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes explained yesterday in a Reddit AMA what “The Social Network,” the film about the company’s early years, got right and wrong.


Jeff Schumacher is stepping down as CEO of BCG Digital Ventures and will become non-executive chairman of the firm, according to Axios.


Venture-backed Vox Media is laying off 50 staffers, while The Atlantic, newly backed by Laurene Powell Jobs, is looking to hire 100 new employees.




Gallup just released survey information that suggests Americans aren’t so excited about self-driving cars as Silicon Valley might imagine. Roughly 54 percent of those surveyed said they’re unlikely to use self-driving cars; 59 percent said they’d be uncomfortable riding in self-driving cars; and 62 percent said they’d be uncomfortable sharing the road with self-driving trucks. More here.



Essential Reads


Amazon’s startup fund is betting on an Alexa-everywhere future, reports Fast Company. But The Information warns that there are risks for startups that take its money.


Crytpocurrency: The Hail Mary pass for people who missed the tech boom.




Oat milk’s humble ascent.


The ultimate Craigslist nightmare.


“Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler breaks down a fight scene.


Retail Therapy


Two words that can help get you an airline upgrade over the phone: “Revenue management.” Here’s why.


StrictlyVC: February 20, 2018

Hi, happy Tuesday.:)


Top News


Supermarket juggernaut Albertsons is buying a big part of drug store giant Rite Aid in an attempt to better compete with both Amazon and an increasingly acquisitive Walmart. The combined revenue of the two companies should also allow Albertsons to go public. The WSJ has more here.


Qualcomm today increased its takeover bid for rival chip maker NXP Semiconductors to about $44 billion in hopes of shoring up support for the deal, and to potentially fend off its own unwanted suitor, Broadcom. The New York Times has more here.


Sponsored By . . .


Today’s StrictlyVC is sponsored by Siftery Track. As a reader, get free early access to Track and easily optimize your team’s software expenditures. Simply sync your credit card or accounting system, and Siftery Track will automatically create beautiful visualizations of your historic and forecasted spend. You’ll also get alerts for new products, duplicate charges, unexpected increases in spend, and more.


New Fundings


BabelBark, a three-year-old, Newton, Ma.-based digital platform that connects pet owners with  hundreds of pet care businesses (including veterinary practices, trainers, shelters, groomers, and boarding kennels), has raised $2.8 million in Series A funding from undisclosed investors. More here.


Bind Benefits, a 1.5-old, Minneapolis, Mn.-based on-demand insurance startup, has raised $60 million in fresh funding after closing a $2.5 million. More here and here.


Dynamic Signal, a nearly eight-year-old, San Bruno, Ca.-based maker of employee communications software, has raised $36.5 million, including from Adams Street PartnersCisco InvestmentsFounders Circle CapitalMicrosoft VenturesTime Warner InvestmentsTrinity Ventures, and VenrockMore here.


Even Financial, a 3.5-year-old, New York-based company that sells data tools to online lenders, has raised $3 million in funding from American Express VenturesPlug & Play and Arab AngelsMore here.


FanDom, a 3.5-year-old, Vancouver, British Columbia-based social media platform for sports brands, organizations, and teams, has raised $3.1 million in fresh funding, shows a new SEC filingMore here.


Homie, a two-year-old, London-based startup that helps Londoners find suitable rental properties, has raised $4 million in seed funding led by Connect Ventures, with participation from VentureFriendsSeedcamp, and The Family. TechCrunch has more here.


Kidaptive, a five-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based adaptive learning company with a suite of curriculum-focused iPad games for kids, has raised $19.1 million in Series C funding led by Formation 8 and the Korean education company Woongjin ThinkBig. TechCrunch has more here.


Losant, a three-year-old, Cincinnati, Oh.-based enterprise IoT platform designed to help its customers quickly build complex real-time connected software, has raised $5.2 million in a Series A funding. CincyTech led the round; other participants include TechNexusVine Street Ventures, and Rise of the Rest fund. More here.


Lyric, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based hospitality company that designs and manages short-term rentals, has raised $15.5 million in Series A funding, including from Fifth Wall VenturesNEA, hotelier Barry Sternlicht, the founders of Casper, AXA Strategic Capital and NFX Guild. The WSJ has more here.


Molly, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that’s building AI-powered databases of people’s information, has raised $1.5 million from BBGBetaworksCrunchFund and Halogen Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


OrCam, a nearly eight-year-old, Jerusalem-based company that’s developing visual aids for the blind, has raised $30.4 million in new funding from investors, including Israel’s Clal Insurance and Meitav Dash. The company — whose wireless smart camera device attaches to the side of a pair of spectacles and reads texts and barcodes and recognizes faces while speaking the information into the user’s ear — is now valued at $1 billion. Reuters has more here.


Small Giant Games, a nearly four-year-old, Helsinki, Finland-based mobile game developer, has raised $41 million in new funding led by EQT Ventures, with participation from earlier backers CreandumSpintop Ventures, and PROfounders. VentureBeat has more here.


SparkCognition, a 3.5-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based startup that uses AI to improve the cybersecurity systems at big oil and gas and aerospace companies, has raised $24 million in additional Series B funding. (The company had separately raised $32.5 million in Series B funding last June.) It has now garnered $63.6 million in funding altogether. AustinInno has more here.


Tagnos, an eight-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based company whose hospital software platform features several front-end applications around patient and asset tracking, has raised $5.8 million in funding, shows a new SEC filing that lists a $6.3 million target. More here.


Tunity, a 4.5-year-old, New York-based startup whose free app enables users to hear mute TVs (including at sports bars, gyms, airports, waiting rooms, or even at home), has raised $12 million in Series A funding, including from former Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack and WeWork CEO Adam NeumannMore here.


Weed, a 12-year-old, Tucson, Az.-based legal and medical marijuana holding company that oversees eight for-profit divisions, has raised $11.6 million in funding, shows a new SEC filingMore here.


xMatters, a 17-year-old, San Ramon, Ca.-based maker of incident management software, has raised $40 million in Series D funding led by Goldman Sachs Private Capital Investing. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds


Pantera Capital, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based investment firm and hedge fund focused exclusively on ventures, tokens, and projects related to blockchain tech, digital currencies, and crypto assets, says it’s raising its third blockchain fund and seeking up to $175 million. It hopes to close the fund by mid-June.


Quake Capital, a nearly two-year-old, New York-based accelerator and seed fund, is raising a $30 million second fund, it says. The outfit closed its debut fund last year with $18 million. More here.


TechOperators Venture Capital, a nine-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based venture firm that specializes in growth-stage opportunities, is looking to raise $100 million for a third venture fund, according to an SEC filing that shows it has already secured $40.2 million in commitments. The firm is fun by former entrepreneurs Dave Gould, Glenn McGonnigle, Tom Noonan and Said Mohammadioun. More here.




The Adecco Group, a global HR services firm headquartered in Switzerland, announced today that it has acquired Vettery, a four-year-old, New York-based online hiring marketplace. The financial terms were not disclosed, but a source with knowledge of the deal tells TechCrunch that Adecco paid a little more than $100 million (likely in some combination of cash and stock). According to Crunchbase, Vettery had raised roughly $12 million, including from GreycroftLightbank, and Raine VenturesMore here.


New Matter, a 3.5-year-old, Pasadena, Ca.-based maker of mid-range 3D printers, is shutting down this month, the victim, apparently, of waning consumer interest in anything but the most affordable products in the category. The company had raised $6.5 million in venture funding from investors, including Dolby Family VenturesFirst Round Capital, and Alsop Louie Partners. TechCrunch has more here.


Oracle says it’s acquiring Zenedge, a 3.5-year-old Aventura, Fla.-based cybersecurity company. Terms aren’t being disclosed. Zenedge had raised roughly $13.7 million in venture funding, including from TELUS VenturesUnion Bay Partners, and Pilot Growth EquityMore here.


China’s largest personalized news app Toutiao has reportedly acquired a three-year-old, augmented reality-based selfie app called Faceu for $300 million. It isn’t clear how much Faceu had raised. China Money Network says it raised an undisclosed amount of both seed and Series A funding, including from IDG Capital and Lightspeed China Partners. It reports the company was later rumored to have raised $50 million from Toutiao itself, though neither company has ever confirmed as much.




Arcus Biosciences, a nearly three-year-old, Hayward, Ca.-based biotech that’s developing immunotherapy drugs, has filed to raise $100 million through an IPO. The firm posted revenue of $1.4 million and loss of $53.1 million last year. Its biggest outside shareholders include GVForesite Capital, and The Column Group. Nasdaq has a bit more here.


German conglomerate Siemens said yesterday that it plans to sell shares in its health care division — Siemens Healthineers — to public shareholders in the first half of the year. The offering, in which Siemens will retain a majority stake, could be one of Europe’s biggest IPOs in years. CNN has more here.




Jeff Bezos is funding a 500-foot-tall clock that’s powered by thermal cycles and meant to outlast the United States. He calls it a “symbol for long-term thinking.” Watch it come together here.


Amy Errett, the founder and CEO of hair color company Madison Reed, has been named venture partner with True Ventures. Errett was previously a special advisor with True, which is an investor in her company. (In fact, firm cofounder Jon Callaghan told us a couple of years ago that True had authorized Errett to write checks on its behalf.) More from Callaghan here.


Facebook’s VP of global public policy, Joel Kaplan, would like you to please forget the tweets of his colleague, Rob Goldman, the company’s VP of ads, whose diatribe about the Mueller investigation was picked up by Donald Trump this past weekend. In a statement published Sunday night, Kaplan wrote: “Nothing we found contradicts the Special Counsel’s indictments. Any suggestion otherwise is wrong.”




The Kapor Center for Social Impact is looking to bring aboard four summer associates to review and analyze pitch decks, among other things. The jobs are in Oakland, Ca.


Essential Reads


Meet Chronicle, Alphabet’s latest moonshot.


Say hello to Google Pay.


Spotify is on its way to creating its first physical products.


One of the world’s largest hedge funds, Elliott Management has described in three pages its negative view of cryptocurrencies in a fourth-quarter letter to clients, calling them “one of the most brilliant scams in history.”




Seven breakout trends from London Fashion Week.


Elmore Leonard’s rules for writers.


A peek at Chris Rock’s new Netflix special, “Tamborine.”


Retail Therapy


Please never buy this shower curtain.


StrictlyVC: February 19, 2018

Hello! Greetings from Bear Valley, Ca., a ski resort that we highly recommend if you enjoy little towns with few frills. (In the ’70s, it was apparently a favorite of Hollywood actors Robert Conrad, Lloyd Bridges and Clint Eastwood.) It’s also a lot less crowded than Tahoe, and this place, on the outskirts, is fantastic.


We’re heading back now so have to jump offline for a bit, but more tomorrow. Hope you’re enjoying a day off if you’re here in the states.:)


Top News


Someone just bought $400 million worth of Bitcoin.


Jolted by the global investment craze over bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, U.S. lawmakers are moving to consider new rules that could impose stricter federal oversight on the emerging asset class, several top lawmakers tell Reuters.


Sponsored By …


Today’s StrictlyVC is sponsored by Siftery Track. As a reader, get free early access to track and easily optimize your team’s software expenditures. Simply sync your credit card or accounting system, and Siftery Track will automatically create beautiful visualizations of your historic and forecasted spend. You’ll also get alerts for new products, duplicate charges, unexpected increases in spend, and more.



Pebble Founder Eric Migicovsky Has Joined Y Combinator as a Partner


If you follow the startup industry, you likely know the story of smartwatch maker Pebble, including that famous Kickstarter campaign in 2012 that sought $100,000 but wound up raising more than $10 million instead. You might also remember thinking that Pebble’s fate was sealed once Apple launched its own now-ubiquitous smartwatch in 2014. You were right if so. By late 2016, Pebble was forced to sell its software and intellectual property to another wearable giant, Fitbit, for less than $40 million — an amount that reportedly barely covered Pebble’s debt.


What you probably don’t know was that behind the scenes, Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky was frequently seeking advice from Y Combinator. Pebble had passed through the accelerator’s program in the winter of 2011 and like many alums, Migicovsky had formed strong bonds with both his fellow founders and with YC execs, including its president, Sam Altman. “Seven years later . . . I was still phoning Sam at 11 p.m. to get help in that deal” to Fitbit, says Migicovsky with a laugh.


Now, Migicovsky will be sharing lessons learned with future YC startups, having quietly joined YC last month as one of its now 18 full-time partners. His role: to work with incoming teams, including those whose companies have a hardware component. We talked with Migicovsky late last week about his wild ride to date and what he hopes to accomplish in his new role. Our chat has been edited for length.


Your relationship with YC dates back some time.


I was in Waterloo, Ontario [studying engineering and starting up Pebble] and [YC founders] Paul [Graham] and Jessica [Livingston] wound up investing and I ended up moving the company the California. YC was really the first [outfit] to believe in us. We did the winter 2011 batch and did our Kickstarter a year later  — before it was even a thing — because we couldn’t raise money. It was hard days for hardware back then.


YC played an amazing role through the sale to Fitbit, and after I sold the company, I took some time off, but because I’d been part of YC, I began working last summer as part-time partner. It was a great chance to start mentoring companies and to spend one-on-one time with the founders, and [YC CEO] Michael [Seibel] and Sam said I should jump on board.


You’ve now joined full-time. What is your role exactly?


I’m definitely covering the hardware desk. About 15 percent of companies going through YC have some connection to hardware, be it enterprise hardware, software with an enterprise component . . . So I’ll be a main point of contact for many of those companies.


Have you done any investing in the past?


I’ve done some but I didn’t have much time outside of Pebble, so the opportunity to take some of the anecdotes and experiences I’ve gathered and help apply them at other companies is really exciting to me.


What are some of the lessons learned that you’re likely to share with these startups?


More here.


New Fundings


BruVue, a 1.5-year-old, Raleigh, N.C.-based beverage data company, says it has closed on $1 million in seed funding from undisclosed sources. More here.


CounterFlow AI, a year-old, Crozet, Va.-based cybersecurity startup, has raised $2.7 million in seed funding from Osage University Partners, the Charlottesville Angel Network, and several individual investors. More here.


Imax Program, a seven-year-old, Hyderabad, India- and New York-based personalized education startup that serves schools across India, has raised $13.5 million in funding, including from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, LGT Impact, and Aspada. The Economic Times has more here.


LumiGrow, a nine-year-old, Emeryville, Ca.-based smart horticultural lighting company, has raised $5.1 million in bridge financing led by Ecosystem Integrity Fund, with participation from ValueAct Spring Master Fund and Greenhouse CapitalMore here.


Morphisec, a 3.5-year-old, Be’er Sheva, Israel-based company that makes an endpoint threat prevention product, has raised $12 million in Series B funding, including from Orange Digital Ventures, along with earlier backers Jerusalem Venture PartnersGE and Deutsche TelekomMore here.


Re:infer, a three-year-old, London-based company that turns unstructured communications data (emails, calls, messaging, logs, reviews, social) into structured, annotated data, has raised $3.5 million in funding led by Touchstone Innovations, with participation from Crane VenturesSeedcamp and AI investor Jason KingdonMore here.


Vydia, a nearly five-year-old, Holmdel, N.J.-based video tech startup, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Vocap Investment Partners, with participation from Newark Venture PartnersMore here.


New Funds


Deciens Capital, a 5.5-year-old, San Francisco-based seed-stage venture firm that focuses on fintech startups, is looking to raise up to $80 million for a new fund, shows an SEC filingMore here.





Zscaler, a nearly 11-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based company that sells integrated, cloud-delivered enterprise security services, filed an S-1 on Friday, revealing plans to raise up to $100 million in an IPO. The company has raised roughly $150 million from investors, according to Crunchbase. One of its biggest outside shareholders is TPG. Nasdaq has a bit more here.




Car maker SEAT has acquired Respiro, a nearly eight-year-old, Madrid, Spain-based car-sharing company. The amount of the deal wasn’t disclosed, but according to Crunchbase, Respiro had only raised a tiny bit of seed funding. More here.




Apple employees keep smacking into their new headquarters’ glass walls.


Billionaire Richard Branson, who invested last year in Hyperloop One (now called Virgin Hyperloop One), is proposing to build a super-fast transportation system in India that would connect the city of Pune with the planned new airport in Mumbai in 25 minutes, saving about three hours.


Facebook is under fire after one of its execs — its VP of ads Rob Goldman — railed against the Russia coverage in a tweet that Donald Trump then cited to discredit U.S. media institutions.


Washington, D.C. has given Elon Musk and his Boring Company a permit to do a little digging.


Snap CEO Evan Spiegel sold 2,675,600 shares of Snap last week at a price of $18.71 per share, a transaction netting him just over $50 million. It’s Spiegel’s first official public stock sale since Snap’s IPO last March. He previously promised not to sell any of his stock during 2017.





Waymo is looking to hire a corporate development and finance manager. The job is in Mountain View, Ca.



Essential Reads


At WeWork, revenue is expected to top $2.3 billion this year.


Messaging app Telegram has already raised $850 million for its billion-dollar-plus ICO.


Russian operatives using social media to manipulate the U.S. election bought their Facebook ads in a sophisticated manner: stealing the identities of Americans and opening accounts at PayPal.




The 22nd-largest team at the Olympics: Zamboni drivers.


Comic Amy Schumer was voted “Teacher’s Worst Nightmare” in high school.


FAQ: Your new cursed instant pot.


Retail Therapy


Three acres in Antigua for $25 million. Reportedly “several very high-profile tech titans” have already looked at the property.