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.


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