Monthly Archives: November 2018

StrictlyVC: April 6, 2018

Yesterday, we meant to write “tantalizingly.” We hate it when we make errors like that, largely because it’s then harder to poke fun at this monster. (Okay, fine, he’s mostly human! Maybe. Save your hate mail.)


Happy Friday, everyone.:)


Also, to our Greek peeps and other Orthodox readers, happy Easter!


Top News


TechCrunch reported last night that Facebook has retracted Facebook messages sent by Mark Zuckerberg and other executives from their recipients’ inboxes. Now Facebook tells TechCrunch it will turn the ability to “unsend” messages into a feature for everyone.


Sponsored By . . .


Let’s keep this short: If you’re a startup or nonprofit that offers a solution that could improve financial health — even early stage —  you should apply to the Financial Solutions Lab virtual accelerator before April 11. Selected startups get $250K + incredible resources. More: Lab Impact ReportLaunch BlogChallenge Details,Application. Hurry! Have questions? Email today!


Confirmed: Six Months After Leaving DFJ, Steve Jurvetson is Back with a New Venture Firm


Last year, renowned VC Steve Jurvetson  parted ways with his longtime firm, DFJ, in what appeared a painful split. Six months later, he’s back with a new firm, Future Ventures, Jurvetson tells us via email. (Recode was first to take notice of its new site.)


Says Jurvetson: “I am incredibly excited about the future — the future of entrepreneurship, disruptive technologies, and my [“future ventures”] to come. I strongly believe that mission-driven founders forge the future. At Future Ventures, we will support those passionate founders.


Jurvetson’s fast return to the venture scene isn’t a complete surprise. In November,we talked with numerous institutional investors who agreed that if they could invest behind a new Jurvetson effort, they would.


Largely, that interest ties to Jurvetson’s track record, which includes SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and the satellite company Planet, among other bets.


The circumstances around Jurvetson’s departure from DFJ appear to have provided an opening for his return, too.


More here.


New Fundings


BayoTech, a three-year-old, Albuquerque, N.M.-based maker of chemical reactors for the distributed production of hydrogen and fertilizers, has raised $12.5 million in Series B funding from an undisclosed strategic investor and earlier investors Cottonwood Technology Fund and Sun Mountain CapitalMore here.


By Chloe, a three-year-old, New York-based plant-based fast casual restaurant concept, has raised $31 million in funding led by Bain Capital Double Impact, with participation from Kitchen FundCollaborative FundRiverPark Ventures and TGP International/Qoot International.


Nantero, a 17-year-old, Woburn, Ma.-based nanotechnology company developing next-generation memory using carbon nanotubes, has raised $29.7 million in funding, including from Dell Technologies CapitalCisco Investments,Kingston Technology CorporationCFT Capital, and SchlumbergerMore here.


Selina, a six-year-old, Panama-based hospitality company that aims to provide accommodations for budget and mid-range travel, has raised $95 million from Abraaj Group and WeWork founder Adam Neumann. TechCrunch has more here.


Spidr Tech, a nearly three-year-old, Manhattan Beach, Ca.-based startup that’s developing law enforcement technology, has raised $2.5 million from investors including Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk LabsBirchmere VenturesStage VenturesKairos AssociationHeartland Ventures, and No Name Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds


Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is creating a venture capital arm, Coinbase Ventures, to invest in early stage companies in cryptocurrency and financial tech, it said yesterday. More here.


Unusual Ventures, an early-stage venture fund founded by John Vrionis, who’d previously spent more than 11 years with Lightspeed Venture Partners, has raised $150 million in capital commitments for its debut fund, says Axios. According to a new SEC filing, the fund is targeting up to $160 million.




Three weeks after disclosing a $55 million funding round, the nine-year-old, Brisbane, Ca-based anti-aging company Unity Biotechnology has filed to go public. The company is focused on stopping “cellular senescence,” which is when cells stop dividing and secrete proteins believed to damage nearby healthy tissue, and it has collectively raised $200 million toward that end so far. Xconomy has more here.




Japanese crypto exchange Coincheck, made famous after hackers made off with more than $400 million in digital token NEM, has been acquired. The company announced yesterday that the Tokyo-based online brokerage Monex Group will buy it in full. The transaction will see Coincheck become a wholly owned subsidiary of Monex. More here.




Controversial Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman “was fêted Wednesday at a Hollywood dinner hosted by power producer and director Brian Grazer and wife Veronica, plus WME-IMG boss Ari Emanuel,” reports the New York Post. Guests included Jeff Bezos, Bob Iger, Robert Kraft, Ron Howard, Evan Spiegel, Kobe Bryant, Dina Powell, and Shane Smith.


MSNBC is airing a new interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook at 8 p.m. EST.


Jared Fliesler, who spent a little more than three years with Matrix Partners, where he was a general partner, has joined reading subscription site Scribd as COO. Fliesler is the second partner to leave Matrix recently. Last month, as readers might recall, longtime general partner Josh Hannah also stepped down from the firm.


Aaref Hilaly later this year will step down as a general partner with Sequoia Capital, says Axios, which cites personal reasons related to a family matter. Hilaly had joined Sequoia in 2012


Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg tells the Financial Times that she personally made “mistakes” and that the company had been too slow to respond after the discovery of a massive data leak to Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that worked for the Trump campaign. She also says Facebook still doesn’t know what data Cambridge Analytica has, and that Facebook “underinvested” in the platform’s safety and security.


Business magnate and philanthropist George Soros called cryptocurrencies a bubble in January. Now his $26 billion family office is planning to trade digital assets. According to Bloomberg, Adam Fisher, who oversees macro investing at New York-based Soros Fund Management, received internal approval to trade virtual coins in the last few months. More here.


Essential Reads


Holy s. A new headset developed by MIT called AlterEgo can read your mind, answering questions you ask without speaking them aloud.


Postmates and DoorDash have reportedly discussed a merger that would unite two of the largest restaurant-delivery startups in the U.S. in a bid to take on better-funded competitors like GrubHub, Uber and Amazon.





How to ripen an avocado, according to science.


The fascinating economics of massive cruise ships.


Fortnite on iOS made $15 million in its first three weeks in the App store.


Retail Therapy


Time Slippers. (Funky brand, great shoe.)


StrictlyVC: April 5, 2018

Thursday! So tantalizingly close to Friday!


Top News


Stocks are rising for a third day. (Phew.)


Sponsored By . . .


Financial Solutions Lab startups are doing extraordinary things. Digit has helped people save $1 billion+, yet the average user income is $40,000. Even has partnered with Walmart to provide financial tools to millions. Dave has helped people avoid more than $15 million in overdraft fees. Nonprofit EARN has helped thousands establish a savings habit. Want to count your visionary startup among them, receive $250K plus access to unparalleled resources that can help you scale?Apply for the next FinLab class by April 11!


Benchmark Just Funded Chainalysis, the Intelligence Company That Helped Crack the Mt. Gox Case


When the virtual currency exchange Mt. Gox collapsed into bankruptcy in 2014 following the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of bitcoins and tens of millions of dollars, those who lost money were understandably furious.


For a small group of people, however, the theft — likely masterminded, we now know, by a Russian cybercrime suspect who was arrested in Greece this past summer — would prove auspicious.


Specifically, Michael Gronager, who was then COO of the Kraken bitcoin exchange, spied an opportunity to team up with a new friend, Jonathan Levin, a post-graduate economist from Oxford who’d written academic works on crytpocurrencies. The two were already discussing intelligence software that could trace specific transactions on the blockchain and be sold to law enforcement. Before long, their young company, Chainalysis, was the official investigator on the Mt. Gox case, hired by its bankruptcy trustee to find all those missing coins.


Its small team “cracked the case probably two months in,” Levin says now.


It was a far bigger credit than most companies start off with, and Chainalysis  smartly ran with it, signing up customers like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and Europol to help them catch criminals.


But Chainalysis — which now employs 75 people and has offices in New York, Washington and Copenhagen — isn’t interested in forensics alone.


More here.


New Fundings


Arkera, a three-year-old, London-based AI platform for wealth managers, has raised £4 million co-led by XTX Markets and Alan HowardMore here.


Arvinas Therapeutics, a five-year-old, New Haven, Ct.-based pharmaceutical company that’s focused on protein degradation approaches to developing drugs that treat cancer and other diseases, has raised $55 million in Series C funding. Nextech Invest led the round, and was joined by investors including Deerfield ManagementHillhouse Capital and Sirona Capital. FierceBiotech has more here.


BetterCloud, a six-year-old, New York-based SaaS operations management platform, has raised $60 million in Series E funding led by Bain Capital Ventures. Earlier investors also re-upped, including AccelGreycroft Partners Flybridge Capital PartnersTribeca Venture Partners and New Amsterdam Growth Capital. Forbes has more here.


Careship, three-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based marketplace for in-home senior care, has raised €6 million in further funding led by Creandum. TechCrunch has more here.


CoinList, a year-old, San Francisco-based platform for connecting accredited investors to blockchain projects, has raised $9.2 million from Polychain CapitalDigital Currency GroupFBG CapitalLibertus CapitalBlockchain Capital and CoinFund. The platform was first incubated at venture firm AngelList. Coindesk has more here., a 14-month-old, New York-based company that allows data scientists and developers to more easily monitor, compare and optimize their machine learning models, has raised $2.3 million in seed funding. Trilogy Equity Partners led the round and was joined by investors Two Sigma VenturesFounders Co-OpFathom CapitalTechstars Ventures, and angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.


The Hotels Network, a 2.5-year-old, Barcelona, Spain-based hotel software maker, has raised $3.7 million in funding led by Seaya Ventures, with participation from SeedRocket 4Founders. HospitalityNet has more here.


Instacart, the six-year-old, San Francisco-based grocery delivery company, is closing on $150 million in new funding from earlier backers, including Coatue Management, says Axios. The money is reportedly part of a Series E round that was first disclosed last month and now totals $350 million at a $4.35 billion post-money valuation. More here.

ITBMed, a two-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based developer of a drug to improve organ transplant outcomes, has raised up to $67 million in new funding led by Pablo Legorreta, the CEO of Royalty Pharma. Other investors in the round weren’t named. FierceBiotech has more here.


Knowhere, a three-year-old, San Francisco and London-based startup that uses machine learning to write what it calls unbiased news stories, has raised $1.8 million in seed funding, including from CrunchFundDay One VenturesDanhua CapitalStruck Capital, and Abstract VenturesMore here.


Qmerit, a three-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based startup that helps companies vet, onboard, manage and measure their contractors, has raised $11.75 million in funding, including from Strandview CapitalSchneider Electric, and Innogy VenturesMore here.


RefleXion, a nine-year-old, Hayward, Ca.-based cancer treatment firm focused on positron emission tomography, has raised $100 million in Series C funding led by TPG’s The Rise Fund. Others in the round include T. Rowe Price AssociatesGT Healthcare Capital Partners, and earlier investors Sofinnova PartnersKCK GroupVenrockPfizer Venture Investments, and Johnson & Johnson Innovation. FierceBiotech has more here.


ShopShops, a three-year-old, New York-based platform that connects brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S. with consumers in China, has raised $6.1 million in seed funding led by Forerunner Ventures, with participation from Union Square VenturesFounder CollectiveSV AngelGGV CapitalThird Kind Venture Capital and XRC LabsMore here.


Sigilon Therapeutics, a three-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based biotech startup that just partnered with Eli Lilly to develop cell therapies for the potential treatment of Type 1 diabetes, has also taken $63 million in funding from the pharma giant, with up to another $410 million in additional royalties on the table, pending the meeting of certain milestones. FierceBiotech has more here.


Suplari, a two-year-old, Seattle, Wa.-based procurement insights platform, has raised $10.3 million in Series A funding led by Shasta Ventures, with participation from Two Sigma VenturesWorkday Ventures and earlier investors Madrona Venture Group and Amplify Partners. GeekWire has more here.


Welltok, a nine-year-old, Denver-based health software firm that says it uses machine learning to analyze healthcare needs for individuals, then connects them to health-focused programs, has raised $75 million in funding, including from Future Fund Management AgencyZiff DavisNF Trinity Capital and ITOCHU Corporation. MobiHealthNews has more here.


Zilingo, a three-year-old, Singapore-based e-commerce fashion marketplace for Southeast Asia, has raised $54 million in Series C funding led by Sofina, with participation from earlier backers BurdaSequoia IndiaSIGVenturraBeenextand Tim Draper. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds


Panacea Venture, a healthcare-focused venture firm founded by KPCB China managing director James Huang, is reportedly close to raising $150 million. Huang’s new fund will focus on early-stage healthcare opportunities in China. According to an earlier report in Private Equity International, Huang will continue to oversee his portfolio of KPCB companies until 2022.




The business software company Domo, founded by serial entrepreneur Josh James and last valued at over $2 billion, is moving to go public, Recode has learned. More here.




MoviePass is saying “Hello — and welcome to Moviefone!” reports Variety. Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY), an IT services management company and the majority owner of MoviePass, announced the acquisition of Moviefone from Verizon’s Oath subsidiary. Under the terms of the deal, Helios and Matheson is paying Verizon $1 million in cash and granting 2.55 million common shares (worth less than $8 million at HMNY’s current stock price) — substantially less than the $388 million that AOL paid to acquire Moviefone in 1999. More here.


A Montreal-based fashion site called Ssense is acquiring Polyvore from Verizon’sOath, but the site will not live on. Ssense has already shut down the Polyvore  site, taking its user data and redirecting traffic from the site’s main URL. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.




JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon — who once called himself “barely a Democrat” — has Wall Street guessing again whether he might run for U.S. president in 2020.


Stefan Glaenzer, a prominent European VC and former chairman of, has quit his role as partner at Passion Capital, the London-based firm he co-founded seven years ago with partners Eileen Burbidge and Robert Dighero. His resignation ties to Glaenzer’s arrest and subsequent conviction in 2012 for sexually assaulting a woman on the London Underground Tube network. He claimed to be high on cannabis at the time. TechCrunch has more here.


FourSquare’s former president Steven Rosenblatt has partnered with Facebook’s former director of sales Joshua Rahn and recruiting veteran Glenn Handler to launch a new company called Oceans that will mentor founders in exchange for a mix of cash and equity. Fortune has more here.


Redpoint Ventures his hired Annie Kadavy, formerly of the venture firm CRV and, more recently, Uber, to be its first female partner. Forbes has more here.


Michael Liberty said his startup Mozido, which once boasted a valuation of $5.6 billion, would revolutionize mobile payments. Now the SEC says that $55 million of the capital he raised toward that end, including from Google billionaire Eric Schmidt’s venture fund, went into Liberty’s own pocket. Forbes has more here.




Humanity United, part of the Omidyar Group, is looking to hire an associate for its Working Capital Fund. The job is in San Francisco


Essential Reads


Facebook had asked several major U.S. hospitals to share anonymized data about their patients, such as illnesses and prescription info, for a proposed research project. The project has been put on pause, following news of that Cambridge Analytica leak, but as CNBC notes in a new report, it could have, and may still, raise new concerns about the massive amount of data Facebook collects about its users and how it’s used.


Wall Street’s big banks are waging an all-out technological arms race.


You can now use your Echo smart speaker as a one-way intercom system! More here.




A woman whose memorable middle-finger salute to Donald Trump’s motorcade last year got her fired, is suing her employer.


See how Montblanc makes its famous pens.


Always at the Carlyle.”


Retail Therapy


The Pupreme stainless steel dog bowl, for trend setters who happen to also eat poop sometimes.


StrictlyVC: April 4, 2018

Hello! Happy Wednesday.:)


Top News


It turns out the woman who attacked YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno yesterday may have been acting out of anger over its content policies. More here.


Sponsored By . . .


Don’t kick yourself on April 12 (next week!) for missing the deadline. If you have a startup or nonprofit that offers a solution that could improve some facet of financial health — even early stage —  you should apply to the Financial Solutions Lab before April 11. More: Lab Impact ReportLaunch BlogChallenge DetailsApplication. (Did we mention winners get $250,000 plus access to unparalleled resources?)


IfOnly, a Marketplace for Experiences, Has New Funding — and a New CEO


IfOnly, a San Francisco-based online marketplace that offers more than 3,000 unique experiences to its adventuresome users, has raised $20 million in Series D funding led by MasterCard, which was joined by other strategic investors, including Hyatt Hotels and Sotheby’s.


It has another new announcement, too: the company has brought aboard a new CEO, John Boris, who spent the previous six years as the chief marketing officer at the personalized photos and products company Shutterfly.


The latter wasn’t necessarily something the company saw coming. Until recently, IfOnly  was led by serial entrepreneur and founder Trevor Traina. But in January, Traina — a financial supporter of President Donald Trump — was nominated for an ambassadorship to Austria, and last Thursday, he was sworn in at his Pacific Heights home in San Francisco.


With Traina off to Vienna, Boris will steer the company’s growth, and its newest strategic partners should help.


Both MasterCard and Hyatt, for example, offer the kinds of experiences featured at IfOnly to help make their offerings a bit stickier for customers.


Meanwhile, Sotheby’s, known of its auctions business, has similarly been getting into the business of experiences. In December, anyone willing to pay enough could enjoy an after-hours tour of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy, before being treated to an authentic Venetian dinner.


More here.


New Fundings


6 River Systems, a three-year-old, Waltham, Ma.-based startup whose mobile robots are designed to speed up production in warehouses, has raised $25 million Series B funding led by Menlo Ventures, with participation from Norwest Venture Partners, Eclipse Ventures and iRobot. The company’s founders were previously executives with Kiva Systems (sold to Amazon). TechCrunch has more here.


Alisports Group, a three-year-old, China-based sports affiliate of Alibaba Group, has raised $191 million in Series A funding led by Yunfeng Capital. China Money Network has more here.


Chairman Mom, a new, San Francisco-based subscription startup aiming to provide resources to working mothers, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding led by Ann Miura-Ko of Floodgate Ventures and Tim Connors from PivotNorth Capital, with participation from Greylock Discovery and Precursor Ventures. The company was founded by Sarah Lacy, the founder of the media site Pando. TechCrunch has more here.


Impossible Foods, a seven-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company developing a plant-based meat alternative and known for its burgers, has raised $114 million in a convertible note led by Singapore’s Temasek and Sailing Capital. TechCrunch has more here.


OrderMyGear, an 11-year-old, Dallas, Tex.-based company that sells its e-commerce and payments software to team sports and affinity groups, has raised $35 million in funding from Susquehanna Growth EquityMore here.


Virta, a nearly four-year-old, San Francisco-based company try to reverse type 2 diabetes and other chronic metabolic diseases by remotely monitoring what patients eat, has raised $45 million in Series B funding from Founders FundPlayground Global and earlier backers VenrockObvious VenturesCreandumCaffeinated Capital, and Max Levchin’s SciFi VC. The company has now raised $75 million altogether. More here.


Yellow, a new, Brazil-based mobility startup, just raised a $9 million seed round for its dockless bike-share service, though it’s not saying who its backers are. Yellow was founded by Ariel Lambrecht and Renato Freitas, who sold their ride-share company 99 to Didi in January earlier this year. Yellow’s third co-founder is Eduardo Musa, CEO of bike manufacturer Caloi. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds


The Australian venture capital firm Blackbird Ventures has closed its third fund with $225 million in commitments. Industry super fund Hostplus is its cornerstone investor. It also turned to First State Super, the Australian government’s Future Fund, and 100 high net worth individuals. More in Startup Daily.


Congruent Ventures, a new, Bay Area-based firm led by veteran clean energy VCsAbe Yokell and Joshua Posamentier, has raised $92 million in funds to back early-stage companies focused on sustainability-related technology. Axios has more here.


Firebrand Ventures, a young, Kansas City-based venture firm focused on startups in the Midwest, has closed its debut fund with just less than $18 million. The outfit is led by former Techstars managing director John Fein. Startland News has more here.


Makers Fund, an eight-month-old, Hong Kong-based early-stage venture fund that’s focused exclusively on the global interactive entertainment market, has sealed up $180 million in capital commitments for its debut fund. We talked with cofounder Jay Chi about how he pulled it off, and what Makers Fund aims to do.


Sofinnova Partners, the Paris, France–based venture capital firm specializing in life sciences, has launched a new fund, Sofinnova Crossover I, with €275 million ($340 million). Limited partners include BpifranceCNP Assurances, a major (unnamed) Chinese biopharmaceutical company, the Danish State Investment fund, and family offices in Europe and Asia. FierceBiotech has more here.




Cloudera, which went public last year, fell more than 28 percent yesterday, after the company posted guidance that fell below analysts’ expectations. CNBC has more here.




GoFundMe, the startup that focuses on crowdfunding for charitable causes, has made another acquisition to scale up its platform, acquiring smaller rival YouCaring. YouCaring also never disclosed how much it has raised and has only ever disclosed one backer, Alpine Investors. TechCrunch has more here.


JUMP Bikes, an on-demand biking service that was long known as Social Bicycles, or SoBi, is reportedly considering a sale to Uber for more than $100 million. TechCrunch, which has the scoop, says the company is also weighing another round of funding, one that Sequoia Capital may want to lead. More here.




CEO Daniel Ek, who owns just over 9 percent of the music streaming company, is now sitting on about $2.3 billion of Spotify stock at its current price. His lower-profile co-founder, Martin Lorentzon, has about $3.1 billion worth of shares in the company. Recode has more here.


Oracle CEO Safra Catz reportedly criticized the bidding process for a huge Pentagon cloud computing contract in a private dinner with Donald Trump last night, saying it seemed designed for Amazon to win. Bloomberg has more here.


Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has joined the board of StyleSeat, an online platform that manages scheduling, appointment reminders, and payments for the beauty industry. Minted cofounder Melissa Kim is also now a director. Fortune has more here.


Alicia Navarro, the CEO and co-founder of venture-backed, London-based Skimlinks, has stepped down, handing over the reins to the company’s chief revenue officer. TechCrunch has more here.


“I thought I was the hardest-working person on the planet” until I met wife Serena Williams, says investor Alexis Ohanian, adding that he thought tech was the hardest-working industry. “It’s all malarkey.”


Slack is promoting VP of product April Underwood to be its first-ever chief product officer, per an announcement from CEO Stewart Butterfield. Fortune has more here.




G2VP, a venture firm led by four partners who worked together previously for Kleiner Perkins’s Green Growth Fund, is hiring an analyst or associate. The job is in Menlo Park, Ca. More here.


Essential Reads


More than 3,000 Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter addressed to CEO Sundar Pichai, protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses artificial intelligence to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. “We believe that Google should not be in the business of war,” says the letter. More here.


Remember the 50 million Facebook users whose data may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica? That was probably closer to 87 million, Facebook is now saying. More here.


Lyft is now testing a subscription service in more than two dozen cites, hoping to lock in customers as competition with Uber heats up in the U.S. More here.




Inside the worst U.S. maritime disaster in decades.


How one artwork can have four very different price tags.


Female authors, describing themselves like a male author would.


Retail Therapy


Buy this, then tell your kids to get it themselves, dammit.


StrictlyVC: April 3, 2018

Hi, happy Tuesday, all.


Top News


We wish very much this was not suddenly the top news, but: Gunshots were reported around 1 p.m. PST near the YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California. Ambulances are at the scene and authorities have warned the public to stay out of the area. Roughly 10 minutes ago (as of this writing), parent company Google published the following on Twitter: “Re: YouTube situation, we are coordinating with authorities and will provide official information here from Google and YouTube as it becomes available.” Judging by what we’re seeing, a San Francisco hospital has confirmed reports that it’s starting to see patients from the shooting, though it hasn’t shared any numbers yet. We’d expect Google to release a statement shortly. More here in the meantime.


(Note: The rest of the newsletter was authored before this situation developed, so please forgive the casual tone. This suddenly feels like anything but a routine day in our world.)


Sponsored By . . .


In just three years, 26 visionary startups and nonprofits have been through the Financial Solutions Lab, and they’ve had an impact on Americans’ financial health. They have helped more than 2.5 million Americans improve credit scores, save more than $1 billion, and gain better control of their financial lives. Be part of this impact storyApply now for the Financial Solutions Lab (hurry — applications are due 4/11).


New Fundings


DeepScale, a three-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based provider of deep learning perception software for use in mass-produced automated vehicles, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Point72 and next47, with participation from earlier backer Autotech Ventures and Trucks Venture CapitalMore here.


DriveWealth Holdings, a six-year-old, Chatam, N.J.-based fintech company, has raised $21 million in Series B funding led by Raptor Group HoldingsSBI Holdings, and Point72. Earlier investors, including Route 66 Ventures, also joined the round. Business Insider has more here.


Honey, a six-year-old, L.A.-based startup whose internet tool tells online shoppers whether there is an eligible coupon for their purchase, tells Recode that it’s in talks to raise in the neighborhood of $100 million in fresh funding. More here.


Qwil, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based platform that helps companies track their independent contractors and get them paid more quickly, has raised $5 million in Series A funding, along with a whopping $102 million in debt funding. The Series A was led by Mosaik, with participation from NextGenReciprocal500 StartupsCantos, and Silicon Valley Bank. The debt round was led by Route 66 VenturesMore here.


Paytm Mall, an online shopping app controlled by the eight-year-old, Noida, India-based mobile payment and commerce platform Paytm, has raised roughly $450 million from SoftBank Group and earlier backer Alibaba Group in a new round of funding that will come in four tranches, reports LiveMint. More here.


Poseida Therapeutics, a 2.5-year-old San Diego-based company at work on a gene therapy for orphan liver diseases and immuno-oncology therapeutics for several types of cancer, has raised $30.5 million in Series B financing. Longitude Capital led the round, with participation from new investors Vivo Capital, theTavistock Group, and earlier investor Malin CorporationMore here.


Red Balloon Security, a seven-year-old, New York-based developer of software that helps customers detect, mitigate and recover from a wide range of emerging threats to their embedded devices, has raised $21.9 million in Series A funding.Bain Capital Ventures led the round, with participation from GreycroftAmerican Family Ventures and Abstract Ventures. The company has now raised $23.5 million altogether. More here.


SalesLoft, a seven-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based startup that helps companies manage the contact phase of the sales process, just raised $50 million in Series C funding led by Insight Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers LinkedIn and Emergence Capital. The company has now raised $75 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


Shine, a two-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based self-care app that offers audio tracks on how to handle toxic relationships and more, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Comcast Ventures, with participation from BetaworksFelix Capital and The New York Times Co. TechCrunch has more here.


Stackery, a two-year-old, Portland, Ore.-based startup that provides a governance and management layer for the relatively new concept of serverless architecture, has raised $5.5 million in seed funding led by HWVP (formerly Hummer Winblad Venture Partners). Other participants in the deal include Voyager CapitalPipeline Capital Partners, and Founders’ Co-op. The company has now raised $7.3 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


Ubiquity6, a year-old, San Francisco-based augmented reality startup, has raised $10.5 million Series A funding led by Index Ventures, with participation from First Round CapitalKleiner PerkinsGradient VenturesLDVPA+E and WndrCo. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds


Eclipse, a Palo Alto, Ca.-based venture firm, is raising one big honking special purpose vehicle, shows an SEC filing that lists a $190 million target. More on Eclipse here.


Razor’s Edge Ventures, a Reston, Va.-based venture firm, is trying to raise $63.5 million for a new fund, according to an SEC filing.


Vida Ventures, a year-old, Boston, Ma.-based life sciences venture firm, has raised $295 million for its debut fund. The firm, founded by Arie BelldegrunFred CohenLeonard PotterArjun Goyal, and Stefan Vitorovic, plans to both actively fund — and build — life sciences companies. More here.




21st Century Fox is willing to sell Sky News to The Walt Disney Co., it says. More here.


InVision App, a seven-year-old, New York-based digital product design platform, has acquired Wake, a collaboration tool for digital product designers. InVision has raised around $235 million in venture funding, shows Crunchbase. Meanwhile, Wake earlier this year raised $2.1 million via a SAFE offering. TechCrunch has more here.


Meituan Dianping, the China-based provider of on-demand services, is reportedly in talks to buy bike-sharing company Mobike for around $3.7 billion, which has raised just shy of $1 billion from investors to date, shows Crunchbase. TechNode has more here.


Japanese online broker Monex Group says it’s considering buying Coincheck, a local cryptocurrency exchange hit by a high-profile $530 million theft earlier this year. The company did not provide any details, but the Nikkei daily reports that the deal could be worth “several billion yen” and thinks an announcement is likely this week. CNBC has more here.


Nine years after spending $884 million to acquire Wind River Systems, which made software for embedded devices, Intel is selling the company to private equity firm TPG for undisclosed terms. ZDNet has more here.




GreenSky, a 12-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based company whose lending platform enables retailers, health-care providers and home contractors to offer loans to their customers, has filed confidentially for an IPO, says the WSJ, whose sources say it could raise up to $1 billion at a valuation of roughly $5 billion. The company was in talks to go public through an acquisition by a “blank-check” company run by a former Blackstone Group partner but those plans fizzled, says the WSJ. More here.


Zuora, the 11-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based cloud subscription management platform, yesterday revealed plans to raise $100 million in an IPO of 10 million shares priced between $9 to $11 a piece. The company’s biggest outside shareholders include BenchmarkRedpoint VenturesShasta Ventures,Tenaya Capital and Wellington Management Company. Crunchbase News has more here.




The 36 women secretly breaking up Silicon Valley’s old boys’ club.


500 Startups is making its most meaningful governance change since founderDave McClure resigned from the role last year. In an unusual deal, the firm is selling an undisclosed amount of equity in its parent company, called Mothership, to the Abu Dhabi Financial Group, which will now help manage 500 Startups operations alongside the firm’s current head, Christine Tsai. Recode has more here.


Amber Baldet, a program lead who set up JPMorgan’s blockchain strategy and headed up its enterprise-focused Quorum blockchain, is leaving the bank to launch her own venture, JPMorgan said on Monday. Reuters has more here.


Two founders of a cryptocurrency firm that was endorsed by champion boxer Floyd Mayweather have been charged with carrying out a fraudulent ICO by the SEC. CNBC has more here.


The full Midas List, out today.




BET Networks, a division of Viacom, is looking to hire a senior digital business development director. The job is in New York.


Lead Edge Capital, a growth equity firm, is hiring a full-time associate. The job is in New York.




At least $2.4 trillion was raised privately in the U.S. last year, concentrating power amid a far smaller pool of backers with access to such deals — and raising concerns about oversight. The WSJ takes a look here.



Essential Reads


Spotify  opened on the NYSE today at $165.90, giving the company a market value of $29.5 billion(!). Spotify isn’t selling its shares on the stock market, meaning the company isn’t raising any money today. Instead, the event, known as a “direct listing,” is a collection of transactions from existing shareholders like employees and investors who are selling shares directly to stock market investors. TechCrunch has much more here.


Snapchat is rolling out group video chats — the same kind of group video chats that apps like Houseparty and Facebook Messenger offer.


MIT is cutting ties with Nectome, the Y Combinator-backed startup promising to preserve customers’ brains for the possibility of future digital upload.


According to Vanity Fair, Donald Trump wants the Post Office to increase Amazon’s shipping costs. According to Bloomberg, however, there are no active discussions happening inside the White House about turning the power of the administration against the company.





The first 3D printed steel bridge looks as futuristic as you’d imagine it would.


The untold story behind Martin Luther King Jr.’s final speech.


An updated Sinclair Broadcast anchor script.


Retail Therapy


Designer fire extinguishers. These seem wrong, but don’t you want one?

StrictlyVC: April 2, 2018

Happy Monday and welcome back.:)


New Yorkers, stay warm. (So nuts.)


Top News


Apple is planning to use its own chips in Mac computers beginning as early as 2020, replacing processors from Intel, says Bloomberg.


The S&P 500 plunged more than 2.5 percent today in the worst start to a second quarter since the Great Depression, and Donald Trump’s recent attacks on Amazon appear to have a hand it it, as the online retailer became the biggest drag on the equity benchmark.


Sponsored By . . .


Just read this. Then share it. And then tell every awesome fintech startup and nonprofit you know — and even some you don’t — that they should apply to the Financial Solutions Lab. (Applications are due April 11, so tick-tock.)


New Fundings


82Labs, a year-old, L.A.-based startup that’s made what it calls a better hangover recovery drink, has raised $8 million in new financing from Altos VenturesSlow VenturesStrong Ventures and Thunder Road Capital. TechCrunch has more here.


Accolade, a 2.5-year-old, Seattle-based on-demand healthcare concierge company, has raised $50 million in funding led by Andreessen HorowitzCarrick Capital PartnersMadrona Venture Group and McKesson Ventures, with participation from Cross Creek Advisors and Madera Technology PartnersMore here.


BioConsortia, a four-year-old, Davis, Ca.-based company that makes microbial products meant to enhance plant phenotypes and increase crop yields, has raised $10 million in Series D funding led by Otter Capital, with participation from Khosla VenturesMore here.


BitPay, a four-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based blockchain payments startup that’s trying to compete with Coinbase, has raised $40 million in funding, including from Aquiline Capital PartnersMenlo VenturesCapital NineG SquaredNimble Ventures and Delta-v CapitalMore here.


Cobalt Robotics, a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based maker of indoor security robots that could conceivably replace security guards as well as facilities managers, has raised $13 million in Series A funding. Sequoia Capital led the round, with participation from Founders FundStorm VenturesPromus Ventures, and Bloomberg Beta. CNBC has more here.


Deepgram, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based speech analytics startup, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from NVIDIA GPU Ventures, the chipmaker’s venture arm. More here., a nearly 10-year-old, Hangzhou, China-based delivery company that operates an army of people who traverse the country on their motorbikes, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Alibaba Holdings at a $9.5 billion valuation in exchange for a controlling stake in its business. is vying for dominance with Meituan Dianping, a startup that’s backed by Alibaba rival Tencent Holdings. Fortune has more here.


FallCall Solutions, a three-year-old, West Hartford, Cn.-based personal emergency assistant app for the elderly, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding led by Connecticut Innovations.


SiFive, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that’s designed to help any company come up with a custom designed chip for their needs, has raised $50.6 million in funding led by Sutter Hill VenturesSpark Capital, and Osage University Partners. TechCrunch has more here.


Verbit, a year-old Israeli startup that says its transcription offering combines artificial intelligence and human input to create an accurate, fast and affordable service, has raised $11 million in seed money led by Vertex venturesOryzn Capital and HV Ventures. The Times of Israel has more here.


Wild Type, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based meat culturing startup, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding led by Spark Capital, with participation from Root Ventures and Mission Bay Capital. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds


Sinovation Ventures, a nine-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based venture firm led by Taiwanese VC Kai-Fu Lee (he was the founding president of Google China, among other things), is raising up to $500 million for its fourth fund, shows an SEC filing. The firm had raised $302 million for its third fund in late 2016. More here.


Social Capital, the seven-year-old, firm cofounded by VC Chamath Palihapitiya, is in the process of raising what it hopes will be a $1 billion growth equity fund, shows a new SEC filing.


Unitus Seed Fund, a six-year-old, Seattle-based venture firm focused on India, has raised $12.9 million for its second seed fund, according to an SEC filing.




ReNew Power, a renewable energy company headquartered in Gurgaon, India and backed by Goldman Sachs and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, is acquiring competitor Ostro Energy in one of India’s biggest renewable energy deals. Bloomberg has more here.




Alzheon, a five-year-old, Framingham, Ma.-based biopharmaceutical firm developing therapies for Alzheimer’s disease, has revealed its plans to raise $70 million in a pubic offering of 5 million shares that are priced between $13 to $15 a piece. Nasdaq has more here.

nLight, an 18-year-old, Vancouver, Wa..-based semiconductor and fiber laser maker, has registered its plans to raise up to $86.3 million in an IPO. Nasdaq has more here. for an IPO of up to $86.3 million. Nasdaq has more here.


Pluralsight, a 14-year-old, Farmington, Ut.-based online learning startup for coders, has confidentially filed for an IPO, says TechCrunch. More here.


Spotify, the 12-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based streaming company, will hit the public market tomorrow, and analysts expect it to be valued straightaway at between $20 billion and $25 billion.




Asked recently about Facebook’s privacy crisis last month, Apple CEO Tim Cooksaid he “wouldn’t be in this situation” if he were in the shoes of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Now, Zuckerberg has hit back, calling the comments “extremely glib.”


John Giannandrea, senior vice president of engineering at Google and one of the company’s leading public voices on artificial intelligence issues, is stepping down from his position as head of the search and AI units, reports The Information. Its sources say his job is being split into two parts. They also say he’s staying at Google to be “more hands on with the technology.” More here.


Golden State Warriors star Andre Iguodala earns $16 million a year, and for several years, he’s been using some of those earnings to invest in tech, telling CNBC that he has a particularly close relationship with  Andreessen Horowitz. “They’ve kind of taken me under their wing and … showed me some things in the portfolio and how I can integrate my brand into some of their brands.” More here.


Steven Hu, who worked for the Chinese venture firm Qiming Venture Partners from 2009 through 2013 and had left to cofound a mobile game development company, just rejoined the outfit as a partner.


Elon Musk has taken direct charge of Model 3 production, according to a report in The Information.




CircleUp, the crowdfunding site, is looking to hire a general partner to help lead its discretionary, $125 million CircleUp Growth Partners investment fund. The job is in San Francisco.


Essential Reads


Reddit is slowly rolling out a redesign.


LGBTQ dating site Grindr admitted today that it does share some data with third party vendors, including customers’ HIV status, but it says the disclosures are made only when “necessary or appropriate.”


John Krafcik, who runs Alphabet’s self-driving company Waymo, says a Waymo vehicle in a situation similar to that of the self-driving Uber vehicle that two weeks ago killed a pedestrian, would have avoided the same fate. Bloomberg has more here (subscription required).




Every Al Pacino movie, ranked.


Sinclair Broadcast Group is “extremely dangerous to our democracy.” If you haven’t already, watch.


The story of a voice: HAL in “2001” wasn’t always so eerily calm.


Retail Therapy


The best desk lamps, according to architects.


StrictlyVC: March 30, 2018

Friday! We’re hopping in a car for the next few hours so have to keep this short.Hope you’re in for a wonderful weekend. Happy Easter. More Monday.:)


Top News


The FCC has approved SpaceX‘s proposed plan to build a constellation of Internet-beaming satellites to provide global broadband service.


Tesla has issued a voluntary recall for 123,000 of its Model S car – or every one made prior to April 2016. It’s found some evidence that bolts in the steering array were showing “excessive corrosion.”


Sponsored By . . .


EquityZen. We operate a secondary market for company-approved transactions in pre-IPO stock. Founded in 2013, EquityZen has already closed more than 3,700 investments in 95+ companies. For as little as $10,000 on your first investment, you can gain access to proven private companies like Coinbase, Postmates, and more! Join for free and begin investing in the private markets:


New Fundings, a five-month-old, San Francisco-based 3D computer vision startup for spatial computing that sounds hugely ambitious, has raised “a mid seven figure” investment led by General Catalyst. A whole lot of other people also joined the round. Forbes tries to explain the company’s vision here.


Nift, a nearly three-year-old, Boston-based startup that produces special gift cards for business clients to pass on to their own best customers, has raised a pretty big Series A — $16.5 million — from Spark CapitalFoundry Group and Accomplice. TechCrunch has more here.


Tech Valley, an Xiamen, China-based ‘big data’ technology and application service company, has raised $3.2 million in Series A funding co-led by CRRC-Times Fundand Green Pine Colorful DreamMore here.


Wondery, a two-year-old, Los Angeles-based podcasting network, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Greycroft PartnersLerer Hippeau Venturesand Advancit Capital. Other backers include BAM VenturesWater Tower Ventures, Fox Networks Group and BDMI. TechCrunch has more here.


Sponsored By . . . 


Fintech products designed for financially healthy outcomes show you can do good + do well. Learn who’s doing it best at the annual EMERGE Forum! This year’s theme is “FinHealth By Design: Building Toward Better” — join 800+ industry leaders and fintech innovators exploring the role of design in strengthening financial health. Save $150 off registration with code STRICTLYVC. Register today!


New Funds


Lead Edge Capital, a nine-year-old, New York-based growth equity firm, is raising its fourth fund, shows an SEC filing. More here.




The New York Stock Exchange is in talks to buy the tiny Chicago Stock Exchange after the recent collapse of a two-year acquisition effort by a Chinese-led investor group, says the WSJ. More here.


Walmart is reportedly in early-stage acquisition talks with insurer Humana, a deal that would be the retail giant’s largest by far. Humana currently has a market value of $37 billion. The WSJ has more here.




Volkswagen could take public its trucks and buses division as soon as May 2, says Reuters. Notes the outlet: “Creating a new corporate structure for the division would be a sign the German automaker is making progress on its pledge to become a more focused and nimble company in the wake of its 2015 diesel emissions crisis, after a failed attempt to sell motorcycle brand Ducati last year.”




Farooq Abbasi has joined Costanoa Ventures as a principal. He was previously an associate with Mosiac Ventures.


According to a 2016 staff email authored by longtime Facebook VP Andrew Bosworth and obtained last night by Buzzfeed, neither deaths nor terrorist attacks coordinated on Facebook should get in the way of the company’s mission to connect people.


Dara Khosrowshahi is charged with turning scandal-plagued Uber into a traditional company—without sacrificing what made it successful. In a profile of Khosrowshahi, the New Yorker ballparks his odds of success.


Here’s why Donald Trump went postal on Amazon this week.


Essential Reads


You might assume that Uber had to pay out a fortune to the family of 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, who was fatally hit by one of its self-driving cars last week, but that may not be the case. Herzberg was homeless, an underreported fact. More, the Arizona lawyer hired by her husband and daughter, who quickly agreed to the settlement, specializes in bankruptcy and debt negotiations. (This is a story of haves and have-nots if ever there was one.) More here.

The Chinese government had talks about possibly financing SoftBank‘s $100 billion Vision Fund, says Recode. According to its report, it isn’t clear if a deal could still materialize, but the Vision Fund was serious enough about China that it had been scouting last year for a new local partner to lead its investing in Chinese companies. More here.


Microsoft just unveiled its biggest reorganization in years. More here.




TV revivals for the #MeToo era.

The last conversation you’ll ever need to have about eating right.

Nineteen years ago today, male supermodel Fabio killed a goose with his face. Esquire remembers the moment.


Retail Therapy


A 360-degree house.


StrictlyVC: March 29, 2018

Happy Thursday, all.:) We’re still here in Tahoe, where it’s sort of boiling suddenly but still beautiful. We’re headed back tomorrow so SVC may be a little short (but sweet!).


Top News


Donald Trump lashed out at Amazon in a tweet earlier, one day after the company’s stock tanked following a report that said he wants to “go after” the e-commerce giant for alleged antitrust violations. “Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!” he wrote on Twitter.


As CNBC notes, Amazon does collect sales tax from consumers in 45 states and Washington, D.C. The WSJ relatedly reports that Amazon spent $13.5 million on federal lobbying last year—more than five times the $2.5 million it spent in 2012.


Meanwhile, the family of the woman killed by an Uber self-driving vehicle in Arizona has reached a settlement with the company, ending a potential legal battle over the first fatality caused by an autonomous vehicle. Terms aren’t being disclosed, as you might imagine. Reuters has more here.


Sponsored By . . .


EquityZen. We operate a secondary market for company-approved transactions in pre-IPO stock. Founded in 2013, EquityZen has already closed more than 3,700 investments in 95+ companies. For as little as $10,000 on your first investment, you can gain access to proven private companies like Coinbase, Postmates, and more! Join for free and begin investing in the private markets:



The U.S. IPO Market Just Had its Best Quarter in Three Years


The U.S. IPO market had its best quarter by proceeds in three years, according to the IPO research company Renaissance Capital.


That kind of momentum has seemingly set the stage for some big names in tech to march onto the public market in the second quarter.


Forty-three companies raised a collective $15.6 billion through their IPOs, says Renaissance, though not all were tech deals. One was the IPO of security company ADT, which had been taken private in early 2016 in a $6.9 billion leveraged buyout by the private equity group Apollo Global Management. As MarketWatch noted at the time of ADT’s January IPO, Apollo continues to own a majority of the company’s shares, meaning it’s a “controlled company” where Apollo is still basically in charge.


Another big, non-tech IPO was that of Hudson, operator of the Hudson “travel essentials” and bookstores found at airports across the U.S. and Canada. Hudson is also a controlled company that remains majority owned by a parent company, Dufry AG of Switzerland. In fact, Dufry earmarked all the proceeds from Hudson’s IPO ($750 million) to pay down its own debt.


Neither of their IPOs performed terribly well. Hudson priced at the low end of its proposed range in January and its shares started to sink almost immediately. ADT’s shares are also trading below their offering price.


More here.


New Fundings


BetterUp, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based leadership app that pairs expert coaches with employees at all levels, has raised $26 million in Series B funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers DFJFreestyle Capital and Crosslink CapitalMore here.


Cubigo, a six-year-old, Netherlands-based tech startup aimed at addressing the senior living market, has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding led by Urbain Vandeurzen, with participation from Transvision. TechCrunch has more here.


Eco-Site, a six-year-old, Durham, N.C.-based wireless tower and infrastructure platform, has raised $90 million in fresh funding, including $30 million in equity from Atlanta-based MSouth Equity Partners and a $60 million credit facility from an unnamed Chicago-based asset manager. More here.


Electric AI, an 18-month-old, New York-based IT outsourcing startup, has raised $10 million in funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from earlier investors Bowery Capital and Primary Venture Partners. BuiltinNYC has more here.


Flipside Crypto, a nine-month-old, Boston-based startup whose platform will recommend which cryptocurrencies to buy, has raised $3.4 million in funding led by True Ventures, with participation from The Chernin GroupResolute Ventures,Boston Seed CapitalConverge and Founder Collective. BostInno has more here.


FoodLogiQ, an 11-year-old,  Durham, N.C.-based maker of food safety and traceability software, has raised $19.5 million in new funding from TestoTyson VenturesPontifax AGTechNicola Wealth Management and Greenhouse Capital. Xconomy has more here.


Goop, the 10-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based wellness media and e-commerce company founded by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, has raised $50 million in Series C funding at a $250 million valuation. Investors in the round include New Enterprise AssociatesLightspeed Venture Partners and Felix Capital. The round brings Goop’s total outside investment to $82 million. TechCrunch says home furnishings may be in its future.


Scotty Labs, a new, Menlo Park, Ca.-based startup that’s building software to let humans control cars remotely, has raised a $6 million round led by Gradient Ventures, with participation from Horizon Ventures and Hemi Ventures. Company cofounder and CEO Tobenna Arodiogbu was previously an entrepreneur-in-residence at SRI International. Bloomberg has more here.


SpyCloud, a two-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based account takeover prevention startup, has raised $5 million in Series A funding from earlier backers Silverton Partnersand March Capital PartnersMore here.


Streem, a year-old, Portland, Or.-based startup that connects home service professionals to their customers through intelligent video streaming (you film your broken appliance and the electrician receives all kinds of data about it, for example), has raised $2 million in fresh funding. Investors include Archivist CapitalOregon Venture Fund, and Portland Seed Fund, as well as earlier backers. The company has now raised $3.7 million altogether. More here.


Tempest Therapeutics, a seven-month-old, San Francisco-based company that’s advancing four small molecule therapeutics, has raised $70 million in Series B funding led by original backer Versant Ventures, with participation from F-Prime CapitalQuan CapitalLilly Asia VenturesForesite Capital and Eight Roads Ventures. Xconomy has more here.


Sponsored By . . . 


Harry West (frog), Michael Bush (Great Place to Work), Jaqueline Reses (Square Inc.), and, Kai Ryssdal (Marketplace) will all be in one place this June: The annual EMERGE Forum! Join 800+ finserv industry leaders, VCs, and fintech innovators exploring the role of design in strengthening financial health. Save $150 off registration with code STRICTLYVC. Register today!


New Funds


AngelPad, an eight-year-old, San Francisco- and New York-based accelerator program that has launched more than 140 companies across 11 different “classes,” is raising a new, $50 million venture fund, according to a new SEC filing that shows it has closed on at least $35 million already. TechCrunch has more here.


Breakout Labs, a San Francisco-based program that’s underwritten by renowned investor Peter Thiel and that in 2011 began offering nascent science-focused startups up to $350,000 in funding with no strings attached, is upping its check size. According to a new Medium post, it’s now offering grants of up to $500,000.


Noah Heller, who left his role as the VP of partnerships and emerging tech at Hulu last November to create a seed-stage fund called 3Rodeo, is raising $3 million, shows a new SEC filing. (We don’t think that number is a coincidence, though we also don’t know if that’s all Heller plans to raise for now.) The firm has characterized the capital pool as a private equity fund, not a venture fund. More here.


Ridge Ventures, the 10-year-old, San Francisco-based early-stage venture firm previously known as IDG Ventures USA, is raising its fourth fund shows a new SEC filing that doesn’t list a lot of info. The outfit had closed its third fund with $120 million in 2015. More here.


U.S. Venture Partners, the 37-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based venture fund is raising up to $300 million for its twelfth fund, shows an SEC filing. The firm had raised roughly $280 million for its eleventh fund in 2015. More here.




Warner Music Group has acquired Sodatone, a two-year-old, Toronto, Ontario-based data analytics platform that tracks streaming, social media, touring and play-listing data in order to unearth emerging talent. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. It isn’t clear from a quick online search whether Sodatone ever raised outside funding. Billboard has more here.




Cruise Automation, the self-driving arm of General Motors Co., said CTO A.G. Gangadhar is departing after less than half a year. In an email to Bloomberg, he cited disagreements with Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt as the reason he’s out the door, but Bloomberg notes that his tenure was also dogged by public complaints about his alleged role in fostering a work environment that was inhospitable to women when he worked at Uber.


Lior Ron, co-founder of Otto, the self-driving truck company Uber acquired, is leaving the company, says CNBC. More here.


Snap is laying off around 100 employees within the advertising and sales department, after laying off 100 people from the engineering department earlier this month. TechCrunch has more here.


Twenty-six women of color who are diversifying entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley, media, and beyond, in Vanity Fair.




Bumble, the popular dating app, and Match Group, which owns another popular dating app, Tinder, are in the midst of a messy fight: The latest: Bumble filed a lawsuit late yesterday claiming that Match — which tried to buy Bumble late last year — interfered with its business operations. Now it wants $400 million in damages.


Last year, three female software engineers at Uber filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, saying its compensation practices were discriminatory. The suit, which represented a class of 420 employees, was just settled for $10 million, says Recode.




Rocket Internet’s venture arm Global Founders Capital is looking to hire an associate. The job is in San Francisco.


Essential Reads


The Saudis and SoftBank are planning the world’s largest solar project.


Amazon may launch a bank account aimed at teens.


The tech industry wants its brain-computer interface projects “to feel like a magic trick” but it’s really a “rigorous and potentially painful scientific process” that involves animal testing, says Gizmodo.




The world’s most expensive painting cost $450 million because two Arab princes bid against each other by mistake.


Crazy that it comes to this again, but thanks, New York Times.


Westworld is coming back in a few weeks, too. (Woot!) Here’s it official season two trailer.


Retail Therapy


When you like your waffles stuffed.


StrictlyVC: March 28, 2018

Hello, there, and happy Wednesday.:)


Top News


Donald Trump  isn’t interested cracking down on Facebook, according to a new report in Axios. Instead, “he’s obsessed with Amazon,” says one of its five sources who’ve discussed it with him. His reported obsession is taking a toll of Amazon’s shares today, too.


Sponsored By . . .


EquityZen. We operate a secondary market for company-approved transactions in pre-IPO stock. Founded in 2013, EquityZen has already closed more than 3,700 investments in 95+ companies. For as little as $10,000 on your first investment, you can gain access to proven private companies like Coinbase, Postmates, and more! Join for free and begin investing in the private markets:


This Startup Just Lined Up $70 Million Lend Out $2 at a Time


You don’t hear of many $2 loans in the United States, where $2 won’t buy you more than a chocolate bar. But in cities like Lagos, Nigeria, and Nairobi, Kenya, $2 has the buying power of roughly $40, making such “micro” loans useful when you’re running a small business. And borrowing $2 from a startup called Branch is a way onto a platform that promises much bigger loans, based on your credit worthiness.


What is Branch and why is it bothering with such small amounts of money? For answers to those questions, we talked this week with its founder and CEO Matt Flannery, who previously cofounded and co-led Kiva, a now 14-year-old micro-lending platform that enables families to make small loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries.


Flannery realized while running Kiva that a nonprofit — which Kiva is — can only get so far when it comes to fundraising. Meanwhile, fascinated by the spread of smart phones and digital payment systems in Africa, Flannery knew that if he could raise serious capital, he could make even more loans to small business owners without needing to meet and interview them first.


In service to that idea, what Branch built is an app that analyzes all kinds of information on a user’s phone that determines how to score their credit. For example, in Nigeria, every time you use an ATM, the bank sends you an SMS message with your bank balance. That’s useful information to Branch. In Kenya, every time you pay your energy bill, the receipt comes via SMS. Knowing if you pay it and how big a bill you’re paying is valuable information, too.


Users apparently don’t see the app as invading their privacy — or it’s worth the trade-off to them if they do. Since its 2015 founding, Branch has been downloaded onto more than one million mobile phones in Sub-Saharan Africa, says Flannery.


Based on that momentum, Branch has attracted the kind of financial muscle Flannery was seeking when he left Kiva to start the company. In fact, Branch is announcing today that it has lined up $70 million in Series B funding to expand its financial offerings to additional countries, including India.


More here.


New Fundings


Arraiy, a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based startup that’s trying to automate the creation of digital effects for movies, TV and games, just raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Lux Capital and Softbank Ventures, with participation from Dentsu VenturesCherry Tree Investments, and earlier backers IDG Capital and CRCM Ventures. The New York Times has more here.


Bigfoot Biomedical, a three-year-old, Milpitas, Ca.-based medical device company that ties smartphones to its automated insulin delivery pump for sufferers of Type 1 diabetics, says it has closed its Series B round with $55 million, including from new investor Abbott. The company, whose other backers include Janus Henderson Investors and Quadrant Capital Advisors, has now raised $90 million altogether. FierceBiotech wrote about Bigfoot in December.


CardUp, a 2.5-year-old, Singapore-based online card payments platform for cash management (it enables any payment made by bank transfer to be shifted to a credit card), has raised $1.7 million in seed funding from Sequoia India andSeedPlus. TechinAsia has more here.


Chia, a months-old, San Francisco-based outfit that claims the cryptocurrency it’s building doesn’t waste electricity like Bitcoin, has raised $3.4 million in seed funding led by AngelList’s Naval Ravikant, with participation from Andreessen HorowitzGreylock Partners and others. The company’s cofounder and CEO, Bram Cohen, invented BitTorrent, one of the first modern decentralized network protocols and an inspiration for the Bitcoin protocol. TechCrunch has more here.


Credit Karma, an 11-year-old, San Francisco-based company that’s been evolving from a  simple credit report system into a broader financial assistant, has raised $500 million through a secondary sale of its common shares to Silver Lake. As part of the investment, Credit Karma says it is getting a 23 percent bump in its valuation from its last secondary round, suggesting it’s now valued at roughly $4 billion. TechCrunch has more here.


Flying Whales, a six-year-old, Suresnes, Île-de-France-based company, has raised $246 million in funding to develop a 500-foot blimp designed to lift lumber from deep woodland. Investors include Bpifrance, which injected 25 million euros this month, and AVIC, China’s main producer of warplanes, transport aircraft and helicopters. France’s national forestry office and the Nouvelle Aquitaine region in the southwest of the country are also backing the project. Bloomberg has the story here.


LetsGetChecked, a four-year-old, Dublin, Ireland-based startup whose health test kit service allows users to take various common laboratory tests from the comfort of home, has raised $12 million in Series A funding. Optum Ventures, the independent venture fund of health services provider Optum, co-led the round withQiming Venture Partners, the Chinese venture firm. TechCrunch has more here.


Neighbor, a year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based peer-to-peer self storage startup that connects people looking for storage with people who have unused space (in those rare cases where this exists), has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Peak Ventures and Pelion VenturesMore here.


Oscar Health, a six-year-old, New York-based health insurance startup, has raised $165 million in new funding in a round led by Founders Fund, with participation from two branches of Google’s parent company Alphabet: the Capital G growth investment arm, and the Verily life sciences segment. According to CNBC, the company is now valued at $3.2 billion. More here.


Siren, a three-year-old, Copenhagen- and San Francisco-based startup that has developed fabric with embedded micro sensors, just unveiled a sock for people with diabetes, along with $3.4 million in funding from DCMKhosla Ventures and Founders Fund. TechCrunch has more here.


Sponsored By . . . 


YouUs. LA. June. Don’t miss the annual EMERGE Forum! This year’s theme is “FinHealth By Design: Building Toward Better” and there will be 800+ industry leaders and fintech innovators exploring the role of design in strengthening financial health. Join us and save $150 off registration with code STRICTLYVC. Register today!




Cushman & Wakefield, the century-old real estate brokerage giant backed by private equity firm TPG, is interviewing advisers to help take the company public, according to Bloomberg.


Homology Medicines, a three-year-old, Bedford, Ma.-based firm that aims to treat rare genetics diseases, has raised $144 million in its IPO. The company, which had raised $127 million in private funding previously, priced 9 million shares at $16. Its biggest outside shareholders sailing into its IPO include 5AM VenturesARCH VentureDeerfield, and Novartis.





Equifax has appointed former GE exec Mark Begor as CEO, the second change to the position since the credit-reporting company disclosed a massive cyberattack in September.


Crypto’s billionaire trading king — Binance’s Zhao Changpeng — has suddenly run into problems.


Tim Cook explains why “it’s not true” that the iPhone “isn’t built in the United States.”


Docker founder Solomon Hykes today announced that he is leaving the company he started.


Chris Wylie, the former Cambridge Analytica  employee turned whistleblower, suggested yesterday that scale of the data leak is substantially larger than has been reported so far.




Turn/River Capital, a tech-focused private equity firm, is looking to bring aboard an investment development analyst to help it source deals. The job is in San Francisco.




The average Wall Street bonus hit $184,220 last year, or “pre-crisis level,” as Quartz reports. The median household income in the U.S., by way of comparison, was $59,039 in 2016.


Essential Reads


Last month, the board of SoftBank Group launched an investigation into who was behind a shareholder campaign that sought the ouster of two of its executives—Nikesh Arora and Alok Sama –and whether that effort had any connections to current company insiders, according to the WSJ. The piece suggests t the effort was meant to strengthen the career prospects of Rajeev Misra, now the head of Softbank’s $100 billion Vision Fund. Find the story — which is pretty fascinating — here. (H/T: Axios for flagging.)


Facebook has made its privacy and deletion settings easier to find, amid escalating criticism of the company.


Uber, after suspending its self-driving car operations in all markets following a fatal crash, has decided not to re-apply for its self-driving car permit in California. Uber’s current permit expires at the end of this month.


Slack is developing tools to tell if you treat men and women differently.




Hulu’s newest trailer for the second season of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which premiers April 28(!)


An American could become the next world chess champion. (Watch out, Magnus Carlsen.)


Robbie Frei’s father lost part of his arm serving in Iraq, so Robbie designed him a new one. He’s 18.


Retail Therapy


1,000-square-foot home that’s designed to function like one twice its size. (Also, it’s in Maui, so do you really care how big it is?)


StrictlyVC: March 27, 2018

Hi, happy Tuesday, all.:)


Top News


Uh oh. Tech stocks are tumbling again in a wave of afternoon sell-offs.


Sponsored By . . .


EquityZen. We operate a secondary market for company-approved transactions in pre-IPO stock. Founded in 2013, EquityZen has already closed more than 3,700 investments in 95+ companies. For as little as $10,000 on your first investment, you can gain access to proven private companies like Coinbase, Postmates, and more! Join for free and begin investing in the private markets:


Lightspeed Just Filed for $1.8 Billion in New Funding, as the Race Continues


Just a day after General Catalyst, the 18-year-old venture firm, revealed plans in an SEC filing to raise a record $1.375 billion in capital, another firm that we’d said was likely to file any second has done just that.


According to a fresh SEC filing, Lightspeed Venture Partners, also 18 years old, is raising a record $1.8 billion in new capital commitments from its investors, just two years after raising what was then a record for the firm: $1.2 billion in funding across two funds (one early stage and the other for “select” companies in its portfolio that had garnered traction).


Still on our watch list: news of bigger-and-better-than-ever funds from other firms that announced their latest funds roughly two years ago, including Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, and Accel Partners.


The supersizing of venture firms isn’t a shock, as we wrote yesterday — though it’s also not necessarily good for returns, as we also noted. Right now, venture firms are reacting in part to the $100 billion SoftBank Vision Fund, which SoftBank has hinted is merely the first of more gigantic funds it plans to raise, including from investors in the Middle East who’d like to plug more money into Silicon Valley than they’ve been able to do historically.


The game, as ever, has also changed, these firms could argue. For one thing, the size of rounds has soared in recent years, making it easy for venture firms to convince themselves that to “stay in the game,” they need to have more cash at their disposal.


Further, so-called limited partners from universities, pension funds and elsewhere, want to plug more money into venture capital, given the lackluster performance some other asset classes have produced. When they want to write bigger checks to the funds in which they are already investors, the funds often try accommodating them out of loyalty.


More here.


New Fundings


Adagene, a seven-year-old, Suzhou, China-based antibody discovery and development company, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by Sequoia Capital China, with participation from New World TMTAVIC TrustKing Star Capital and Gopher Asset Management. China Money Network has more here.


Canopy, a nearly four-year-old, Lehi, Ut.-based maker of cloud software for tax and accounting practice management, has raised $30 million in new funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from Wells Fargo Strategic Capital,Pelion VenturesUniversity Growth Fund and EPIC Ventures. Crowdfund Insider has more here.


Circular Wave Drive, a Columbus, Oh.-based technology company that makes compact speed-reducing gears for robotics and applications, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by regional investor Ikove Venture Partners. Crunchbase News has more here.


Dandelion, an 11-month-old, New York-based clean energy startup that’s selling ageothermal heating and cooling system for homes and was originally incubated inside Google parent Alphabet, has raised $4.5 million led by New Enterprise Associates. Other backers in the deal include BoxGroupDaniel YatesGround Up, and previous investors Borealis VenturesCollaborative Fund, and ZhenFund. Dandelion has now raised $6.5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


Intercom, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based company that sells a suite of messaging-first products aimed to help sales teams accelerate business, has raised a $125 million in Series D funding at a post-money valuation of $1.275 billion, reports TechCrunch. Kleiner Perkins led the round; earlier backers to participate include Bessemer Venture PartnersIndex VenturesJack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg. TechCrunch has more here.


Kloudless, a seven-year-old, Berkeley, Ca.-based company that makes it easier for developers to connect their applications to a variety of third-party tools for file storage, customer management, and other services through a unified API, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Aspect Ventures. Other participants in the round include Bow CapitalAlibaba Taiwan Entrepreneurs FundHeavybit, and Ajay Shah. Kloudless had raised its seed funding from investors David Sacks and Tim Draper. TechCrunch has more here.


Mydream+, a three-year-old, Beijing-based co-working space company, has raised $48 million in Series B funding led by Ocean Link, with participation from earlier backers Joy Capital and M31 Management Fund. China Money Network has more here.


Opentrons, a four-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based startup whose robots help biologists automate lab experiments that would otherwise be done by hand, has raised $10 million in seed funding led by Khosla Ventures. Other participants in the round include Lerer HippeauYC Continuity Fund and Jeff KindlerMore here.


PreVeil, a three-year-old, Boston-based startup that sells end-to-end encryption software to protect email and files for businesses, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding from Spark CapitalMore here.


Relativity, a two-year-old, L.A.-based company that’s developing an automated, 3D printing process meant to design rockets quickly and with reduced complexity, has raised $35 million in Series B funding led by Playground Global. Earlier backers Social CapitalY Combinator Continuity and Mark Cuban also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.


Remesh, a five-year-old, New York-based software company using AI to help organizations conduct research (they engage with customers, employees, or their target market via a chat interface that can analyze and segment their responses), has raised $10 million in Series A funding. General Catalyst led the round, with participation from earlier investor LionBird VenturesMore here.


Root Insurance, a three-year-old, Columbus, Oh.-based startup selling personalized car insurance, has raised $51 million in Series C funding led byRedpoint Ventures, with participation from Scale Venture PartnersRibbit Capital and Silicon Valley Bank Capital PartnersMore here.


Sentieo, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based financial research platform, has raised $6 million in funding co-led by Clocktower Ventures and Long Focus Capital, with participation from individual investors, including Howard Lindzon and Scott BelskyMore here.


Spring Labs, a year-old, Marina del Ray, Ca.-based blockchain-based data exchange network, has raised $14.75 million in seed funding. August Capital led the round, with participation from Victory Park CapitalGreatPoint VenturesPritzker Group Venture CapitalMulticoin CapitalWavemaker Genesis andJump Capital. VentureBeat has more here.


Sponsored By . . . 


Harry West (frog), Michael Bush (Great Place to Work), Jaqueline Reses (Square Inc.), and, Kai Ryssdal (Marketplace) will all be in one place this June: The annual EMERGE Forum! Join 800+ finserv industry leaders, VCs, and fintech innovators exploring the role of design in strengthening financial health. Save $150 off registration with code STRICTLYVC. Register today!


New Funds


Bedrock Capital, cofounded last year by Geoff Lewis, formerly of Founders Fund, has raised $135 million for its debut fund. You can read all about the outfit, which is based in New York, here.


Harrison Metal, a 10-year-old, San Francisco-based seed-stage venture fund, has closed its fifth vehicle with $68 million, founder Michael Dearing tweeted out yesterday. TechCrunch has more here.




Rackspace, a cloud-computing company that was taken private in a $4.3 billion deal in August 2016 by private equity firm Apollo Global Management, is in consideration for an IPO by the firm, says Bloomberg. More here.


Forget what was said about 2019. Saudi Aramco, the Saudi oil giant, is back on track for an IPO in the second half of 2018, according to its CEO. Bloomberg has more here.




Shyp, a nearly five-year-old, San Francisco-based shipping services startup, is shutting down after raising $62 million from investors, including HomebrewSherpa CapitalSlow Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, among others. Fast Company has more on its rise and fall.


A unit of Foxconn Technology Group has agreed to buy smartphone and electronics accessories maker Belkin International or $866 million. More here.


Google is acquiring Tenor, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that powers a variety of GIF keyboards on phones and messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger. Tenor will continue to operate as a separate brand within Google, says TechCrunch. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed; Tenor had raised$32 million from investors, including Cowboy VenturesRedpoint Ventures and Menlo Ventures, among others. More here.


MariaDB is best known as a drop-in replacement for the popular MySQL database. But the MariaDB Corporation has its sights set on a bigger market, announcing today that it’s acquiring MammothDB, a big data business analytics service based in Bulgaria. TechCrunch has more here.




So much for being accountable? Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has declined a summons from a UK parliamentary committee that’s investigating how social media data is being used, and, as recent revelations suggest, misused, for political ad targeting. He says he will testify before Congress, however.




The U.S. is still a tech innovation hub, but other regions are on the rise, according to KPMG’s annual survey of tech leaders. While Silicon Valley and San Francisco are together viewed as the top hub, Shanghai ranks as the biggest rival when it comes to innovation. More here.


Essential Reads


Nvidia, which supplies chips for Uber’s self-driving cars, said it’s temporarily suspending all of its self-driving tests on public roads to learn more about last week’s crash in Arizona. The state itself separately suspended Uber’s ability to test and operate autonomous vehicles on Arizona’s public roadways.


In separate but related news, the United States National Transportation Safety Board is conducting an investigation into a fatal car crash involving a Tesla Model X car on Friday. It isn’t yet clear if Tesla’s automated control system, Autopilot, was active at the time of the accident.


Waymo and Jaguar say they’re building a fleet of all-electric self-driving cars for customers who’d like a little pizzazz in their autonomous ride.


Apple is looking to bite into Google’s stranglehold on the education market. How: with a cheaper new iPad and pencil.




HODL on to your artwork. An American couple bought a sculpture directly from the artist in 1955 for $5,000. Christie’s estimates the piece will fetch more than $70 million.

Retail Therapy


tandem hammock. When you want to be close, but not *that* close.

StrictlyVC: March 26, 2018

Happy Monday from Lake Tahoe! (Spring break.) It isn’t clear how much time we’ll have this week, but if you also happen to be here and want to grab coffee, let us know.


Also, quick mention: our phone is borked right now after being unceremoniously dropped on the road. With the screen cracked, no one can hear us, we’re discovering, so don’t call unless you want to hear, “______________.”


We’re mostly online today, fwiw.:)


Top News


Shares of Facebook cratered as much as 6 percent today after the Federal Trade Commission announced that it’s investigating the company’s data practices in the wake of that Cambridge Analytica leak of 50 million users’ information. CNBC has more here.


Sponsored By . . .


EquityZen. We operate a secondary market for company-approved transactions in pre-IPO stock. Founded in 2013, EquityZen has already closed more than 3,700 investments in 95+ companies. For as little as $10,000 on your first investment, you can gain access to proven private companies like Coinbase, Postmates, and more! Join for free and begin investing in the private markets:


General Catalyst is among other firms that are right now raising their biggest funds ever — again


It happened in 2016, and it’s happening like clockwork again in 2018: venture firms are closing new funds with more money than they ever have before, just two years after closing their most recent funds with more money than they’d ever raised.


Last week, you may have caught wind that Khosla Ventures is raising up to $1.4 billion across an early-stage fund and gigantic seed fund. Battery Ventures also recently upped the ante, raising a fresh $1.25 billion across two funds. Meanwhile, Sequoia Capital is reportedly looking to raise $12 billion across a series of funds. (As the second-largest shareholder of newly public Dropbox, that pursuit just became easier, we’d imagine.)


Don’t expect the announcements to stop any time soon. Just today, the SEC processed paperwork showing that 18-year-old General Catalyst has closed a$1.375 billion fund, a vehicle that seemingly combines both the firm’s early- and growth-stage investments. That’s a huge leap over the capital commitments that General Catalyst circled in early 2016, when it closed a pair of funds with $845 million.


We’d expect a host of firms that closed their most recent funds around the same window in 2016 to be trotting out their own mega funds in short order. (Think Andreessen Horowitz, Accel Partners, Founders Fund, and Lightspeed Venture Partners, among others.)


Whether the trend is a reflection of the natural evolution of venture capital, or a race off a cliff, will play out over time.


More here.


New Fundings


Calm, a 5.5-year-old, London-based meditation app that Apple recognized last year as “app of the year,” is reportedly raising $25 million in new funding at a $250 million valuation led by Insight Venture Partners. The startup has raised just $1.5 million in seed funding to date. CNBC has the story here.


Candex, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose collaboration apps manage payments between companies and their vendors, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding from Edenred Capital PartnersPartech Ventures,Advisors.FundCamp One VenturesNFXTekton VenturesBig Sur Ventures and Mark Goines, an executive at Personal Capital. More here.


Manbang Group, an Uber-like truck-hailing company that was created last November after China’s top two truck-calling apps Huochebang and Yunmanman merged, is reportedly looking to raise between $500 million and $1 billion in fresh funding, and SoftBank is (ahem) kicking the tires. Reuters has the story here.


Myriota, a three-year-old, Adelaide, Australia-based company that aims to create an internet-of-things communications network by developing a number of projects across a diverse range of sectors, from black box-type recorders for soldiers to water tank monitors for farmers, has raised $15 million in Series A funding. Main Sequence Ventures and Blue Sky Venture Capital co-led the round, with participation from Boeing HorizonX VenturesSingtel Innov8 and Right Click CapitalMore here.


Nebanan, a nearly three-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based social network for neighborhoods, has raised €16 million ($19.8 million) in Series A funding led by BurdaPrincipal, with participation from LakestarDeutsche TelemedienNWZ, and pd venturesMore here.


Valohai, a two-year-old, Turku, Finland-based machine learning platform-as-a-service company, has raised $1.8 million in funding led by Superhero Capital, with participation from Reaktor Ventures and Business FinlandMore here.


Wizeline, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based company that designs digital products for its customers, has raised $43 million in Series B funding led by Apax DigitalMore here.


Sponsored By . . . 


YouUs. LA. June. Don’t miss the annual EMERGE Forum! This year’s theme is “FinHealth By Design: Building Toward Better” and there will be 800+ industry leaders and fintech innovators exploring the role of design in strengthening financial health. Join us and save $150 off registration with code STRICTLYVC. Register today!


New Funds


Quona Capital, a New Delhi, India-based venture firm that’s right now investing out of its $142 million second fund, is marketing a third fund that it hopes to close with up to $200 million, a founding partner tells the Economic Times. Accion, the global non-profit that’s focused on fintech, is one of Quona’s anchor investors and will remain an anchor investor its next fund, says the report. More here.




Smartsheet, a 13-year-old, Seattle-area company that helps Fortune 500 customers manage and automate key work processes — including the ability of employees to collaborate on projects across sales, marketing, and other corporate functions — filed to raise as much as $100 million through an IPO. It’s the first filing for an IPO for a tech company in the Seattle region this year. GeekWire has more here.


Spotify goes public next week. Today, it told Wall Street how it expects to do for 2018.




Cake Technologies, a 2.5-year-old U.K.-based fintech startup that wanted to make it more convenient to pay your restaurant or bar bill, was quietly acquired late last year for $13.3 million by American Express, reports TechCrunch. The young startup had raised a total of £4.5 million in equity and £1.4 million in debt, according to its sources. More here.


Coinbase may be on the verge of its biggest acquisition yet, though it wouldn’t be a great outcome for investors in the company being gobbled up. According to Coindesk, Coinbase, which has raised more than $225 million in venture funding to date, is in talks to acquire five-year-old,, formerly known as, for $30 million in cash (says one source) or (says another source) closer to $120 million, when factoring in cash, cryptocurrency, stock and an earn-out. Headed by Balaji Srinivasan, invites users to earn digital currency for replying to emails and completing tasks and has raised at least $121 million, including from Founders FundData CollectivePantera Capital, and Andreessen Horowitz, where Srinivasan worked briefly as a general partner.




Six months after going public, Roku shares are trading at more than double their listing price and tomorrow presents the first chance for directors, executive officers and some other large holders to sell their stakes in the video-streaming pioneer.


Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on the Cambridge Analytica scandal and why Facebook didn’t take action years ago: “We didn’t realize the gravity of the issue sooner.”


Nathan Sanders, who joined Technology Crossover Ventures in 2014 after spending seven years with Bain Capital, has been named COO of the firm in a newly created position in which Sanders will oversee TCV’s finance, marketing, HR and IT functions.




Online advertisers are expected to outspend TV advertisers by $40 billion this year.


Essential Reads


Twitter is the latest social service to boot out cryptocurrency advertisers.


Uber is selling its Southeast Asia business to rival Grab in Singapore in exchange for 27.5 percent of Grab’s business — and that’s a win for Uber, not a defeat, says TechCrunch.


Lerer Hippeau Ventures, the New York-based early-stage venture firm, is taking over the $125 million debut fund created by Binary CapitalMore here.


The toxic Superfund sites of Silicon Valley.





The Sunday Times of London talks with Elon Musk’s mysterious estranged father, including about the baby he recently fathered with his, gulp, stepdaughter.


How to make your own Wes Anderson soundtrack.


The politics of waxing.


Retail Therapy


How to make enemies and offend people. (Upside: you might outlive them.)