StrictlyVC: March 22, 2018

Hi, happy Thursday, all.:) No column today. We’ve been too busy toggling between work and overseeing a repair project over here at SVC headquarters. (Fascinating, we know.)


Top News


Stocks nosedived today, with investors fretting over an escalating trade war with China.


Dropbox just raised $750 million ahead of its opening day of trading tomorrow, with investors acquiring shares at $21 a pop. The long-awaited IPO will be watched closely to gauge the health of the tech economy.


YouTube has banned firearms demo videos, entering the gun control debate. In the face of intense criticism for hosting videos about guns, bombs, and other deadly weapons, YouTube says it will also prohibit videos with instructions on how to assemble firearms. More here (sub required).


Reddit, the popular link-sharing site, has also waded into the debate, removing several popular firearms-related communities yesterday after an update to the company’s policies. Bloomberg has more here.


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New Fundings


AdStage, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based reporting and automation platform for paid marketers, has raised $3 million in funding from Forté VenturesHubSpot . and Verizon VenturesMore here.


Amper Music, a 3.5-year-old, New York-based AI-driven music creation platform that says it can quickly produce unique music, has raised $4 million in seed funding led by Horizons Ventures. Other backers in the round include Two Sigma VenturesAdvancit Capital, Foundry Group and Kiwi Venture PartnersMore here.


ArcherDX, a three-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based company that creates custom next-generation sequencing assays meant to identify mutations and gene fusions from clinical sample types, has raised $35 million in Series A  funding co-led by Boulder Ventures and PBM Capital GroupMore here.


Bestmile, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco- and Lausanne, Switzerland-based autonomous vehicle fleet management platform company, has raised $11 million in Series A funding led by Road Ventures. Other participants in the deal include Partech VenturesGroupe ADPAirbus VenturesSerena Capital and the Mobility FundMore here.


Blade, a three-year-old, New York-based short-distance aviation company often called an “Uber for helicopters,” has raised $38 million in Series B funding co-led byColony NorthStar and Lerer Hippeau Ventures, with participation from Airbus Helicopters and LionTree Ventures. Business Insider has more here.


BioIQ, a nearly 13-year-old,  Santa Barbara, Ca.-based company whose software configures and manages all aspects of a health testing program, has raised $26.5 million in funding led by HealthQuest Capital, with participation from Arboretum Ventures and select (unnamed) insiders. More here.


Burrow, a nearly two-year-old, New York-based maker of modular sofas, has raised $14 million in Series A funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from Correlation Ventures and earlier investors Red & Blue Ventures and YC Continuity. TechCrunch has more here.


Everledger, a three-year-old, London-based startup that tracks the provenance of high-value assets on a global digital ledger, has raised $10.4 million in in Series A funding round led by Fidelity Investments, with participation from Vickers Ventures PartnersGraphene Venture Capital, and earlier investors FPV,FenbushiBloomberg Beta and RakutenMore here.


eToro, an 11-year-old, London-based social trading and investment platform, has raised a whopping $100 million in Series E funding led by China Minsheng Financial, with participation from SBI GroupKorea Investment Partners and World Wide Invest. China Money Network has more here.


Matillion, a 7.5-year-old, U.K.-based the maker of cloud data integration tools, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Sapphire Ventures, with participation from Scale Venture Partners and earlier backer YFM Equity Partners. More here.


Rheos Medicines, a year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based immuno-metabolism startup, has launched with $60 million in funding from Third Rock Ventures. FierceBiotech has much more here.


Sift Science, a 6.5-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of fraud prevention and risk management software, has raised $53 million in Series D funding led byStripes Group, with participation from Union Square VenturesInsight Venture Partners and Spark CapitalMore here.


Skyline AI, a year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel- based startup that uses machine learning to help real estate investors identify promising properties, has raised $3 million in seed funding from Sequoia Capital. TechCrunch has more here.


SteadyMD, a two-year-old, St. Louis, Ms.-based company that offers continuous, dedicated primary care online, has secured $2.5 million in funding led by Pelion Venture Partners, with participation from CrossCut VenturesM25 Group,Service Provider Capital and Hyde Park Venture PartnersMore here.


Vangst, a three-year-old, Denver, Co.-based employment platform for the cannabis industry, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by Lerer Hippeau Ventures, with participation from Casa Verde CapitalMore here.



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New Funds


ATX Seed Ventures, a nearly four-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based seed-stage venture outfit, is looking to raise up to $75 million for a second fund, according to an SEC filing that shows it has secured at least $17.8 million from investors thus far. More here.


Blockchain Capital, a nearly five-year-old, venture capital firm focused exclusively on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, says it has closed its fourth fund with $150 million in capital commitments — its biggest fund so far. The company has backed 72 companies to date, including Coinbase, Ripple, Circle, Ethereum, 0x and Kraken. It also just promoted its head of research, Spencer Bogart, to partner. Bogart had joined the firm from Needham & Company, where he was a VP. Coindesk has more here.


Pioneer Fund, a year-old, Toronto, Canada-based seed-stage fund that was created by Y Combinator alumni to back other YC alumni, has held an initial close on its debut fund. It’s not saying publicly how much it has raised, but it’s targeting $20 million in commitments altogether. Axios has more here.


Qiming Venture Partners, a 12-year-old, Shanghai, China-based venture capital firm, has set out to raise a $900 million sixth venture fund, according to an SEC filing. The outfit closed its previous fund with $648 million roughly two years ago.


Spero Ventures, an early-stage, Redwood City, Ca.-based venture firm that was just spun out of Omidyar Network, has launched with $100 million for its debut fund. Forbes has more here.




Tenable Network Security, a 15-year-old, Columbia, Md.-based cysecurity software maker, has hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to lead an IPO as early as this fall, says Reuters. Last week, another venture-backed cybersecurity company, Zscaler, hit the public market and it’s reception so far has been promising.




Balderton Capital, the London-based venture firm, has brought aboard three new hires: Isabel Bescos, Cayetana Hurtado and Diane Albouy. Bescos was previously the head of corporate strategy at BlaBlaCar. Hurtado and Albouy previously worked at Goldman Sachs.


Speaking of Goldman Sachs, at an event earlier today, CEO Lloyd Blankfein gave a rare compliment to Donald Trump today for his skill at disintermediating the press using Twitter. Blankfein said he would himself be better at Twitter if he weren’t still leading the bank. “The ones I don’t send are really terrific,” he joked.


Catherine Hoke, the founder of the nonprofit called Defy Ventures, which works to turn prisoners into entrepreneurs, resigned yesterday after it was reported that she’s been facing allegations of sexual harassment and fraud. Hoke denied any impropriety on her way out the door.


Magazine publisher Meredith announced it will lay off 1,200 employees from Time Inc., and formally announced its efforts to sell Time, Fortune, Money, and Sports Illustrated. Axios has more here.


Semil Shah, a seed-stage investor who runs his own seed-stage venture firm, Haystack, and was previously a venture partner with the cross-border firm GGV Capital, has joined Lightspeed Venture Partners as a venture partner. More here.


Billionaire Peter Thiel is reportedly among the chief investors in a new football league called the Alliance of American Football that will play its games during the NFL’s offseason. Fox Business has more here.


After days of silence about the Cambridge Analytica controversy, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally broke his silence last night, speaking with numerous outlets, including Wired. Among things worth noting, he said Facebook has already suspended its planned audit of thousands of apps in response to the “breach of trust” created by Cambridge Analytica, which he’d announced on his Facebook page earlier in the day. The reason: Facebook, he said, wants to temporarily “cede to the UK regulator, the ICO [Information Commissioner’s Office], so that they can do a government investigation—I think it might be a criminal investigation, but it’s a government investigation at a minimum.” Zuckerberg also said that he would be “happy” to testify before Congress about Facebook’s legal compliance issues were he the most informed person on the topic at FB, which he says he is not. More here (sub required).


Essential Reads


That didn’t take long enough. The power players behind Cambridge Analytica have set up a new company — and the daughters of conservative billionaire Robert Mercer have just joined as directors. Alexander Nix, the suspended CEO of Cambridge Analytica, is a director, too. The Daily Mail has more here.


South African media company Naspers is cashing in on one of the greatest venture-capital investments ever, selling $10.6 billion of shares in Tencent  — equal to 2 percent of the company’s shares. Naspers had bought its stake in the company in 2001 for just $32 million. Fortune has more here.




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