|Friday! [Flashdances way out of home office.] Hope you have a terrific long weekend, everyone. We will not be publishing StrictlyVC this Monday in observance of Memorial Day, but we’ll see you bright and earlyish on Tuesday.:)|
|Goodbye for now, e-scooters in San Francisco. |
Pepsi just announced that it’s acquiring Bare Foods, a venture-backed maker of baked fruit and vegetable snacks that looks to have raised just $9.3 million in the 14 years since it was founded. Terms of the deal weren’t being disclosed, but, Pepsi. Can’t be too bad, right?
|Former Journo Alexia Bonatsos Takes the Wraps Off Her New Fund, Dream Machine|
|Five years ago, Alexia Bonatsos, née Tsotsis, was co-editor of TechCrunch, a job that made her renowned in startup circles and familiar with a wide number of startups and their founders. What she really longed to do, in fact, was invest in some of them. |
“I was among the first people to write about Pinterest and Wish — when it was known as ContextLogic — and Uber and Instagram and WhatsApp,” says Bonatsos. “I started to wonder if I was in the right place at the right time — so, luck — or if I’m in the right information flows. I was curious: what if I’d been writing checks?”
She talked occasionally with venture firms, but the right job didn’t materialize. So she set to work on creating her own dream job. Her first move was to step down from her post at TechCrunch in 2015 to enter into an accelerated, one-year master’s degree program at Stanford University’s business school. (“I wanted to be able to communicate in the same language” as other VCs, she says with a shrug.) All the while, and in the year afterward, she was talking with founders about how tell their story and shape their editorial and convince people with large followings that they are worth tracking — skills Bonatsos had herself honed as a reporter.
She wasn’t building out her network merely to stay connected; she was also slowly piecing together checks from individual investors for a debut venture fund. Toward that end, last December, she registered her San Francisco-based firm, Dream Machine, with the SEC, listing the target amount at $25 million. If she has reached or is nearing that number, she won’t say out of an abundance of caution around securities regulations. (This is what happens when business journalists become VCs.)
Still, when we caught up with her recently, she disclosed that she has already made seven investments, including as part of one token sale. She also shared a bit about what they have in common, which seemingly centers on two things: they involve the ever-growing sharing economy, and they take advantage of an overarching trend toward decentralization.
|Albert, a three-year-old, L.A.-based startup that provides its customers access to on-demand financial advisors, has raised $5 million in Series A funding from investors including QED, American Express Ventures, and Portag3. The company has now raised $7.5 million altogether. Fortune has more here. |
Bright Cellars, a four-year-old, Milwaukee-based wine subscription service that uses algorithms to pair customers with wines they might like, has raised $2.8 million in financing, including from Cleveland Avenue, Northwestern Mutual‘s Cream City Venture Capital and CSA Partners. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has more here.
BRD, a three-year-old, Zurich, Switzerland-based bitcoin and cryptocurrency mobile wallet (BRD stands for Banking Reinvented and Decentralized), has raised $32 million in funding, including from East Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
Brii Biosciences, a months-old, Shanghai, China-based biotechnology company that says it is developing medicines exclusively for the China market, has raised $260 million in funding. Investors include ARCH Venture Partners, 6 Dimensions Capital, Boyu Capital, Yunfeng Capital, Sequoia Capital and Blue Pool Capital. Forbes has more here.
ICEYE, a three-year-old, Espoo, Finland-based Earth observation data company, has raised $34 million in Series B funding. True Ventures led the round, with participation from Draper Nexus, Draper Associates, Seraphim Capital, Space Angels, OTB, Tesi, Draper Esprit and Promus Ventures. SpaceNews has more here.
PACT Pharma, a recently launched, Hayward, Ca.-based biotech company that will be developing cell-based immunotherapy products for a wide range of cancers, has raised $95 million in Series B funding led by earlier investor GV. Other participants in the round include Canaan Partners, Casdin Capital, Abbvie Ventures and Wu Capital, along with earlier backers Taiho, DROIA, Invus, Pontifax and Foresite. GV general partner Blake Byers is leading the company as interim president while it recruits a permanent CEO. More here.
Phenom People, a seven-year-old, Ambler, Pa.-based talent relationship marketing platform, has raised $22 million in Series B funding led by AXA Venture Partners, with participation from Sierra Ventures, Sigma Prime Ventures and Omidyar Ventures. More here.
Porter Road, a seven-year-old, Nashville, Tn.-based online whole animal butcher shop, raised $3.7 million in seed funding, including from Max Ventures, Slow Ventures, BoxGroup, Tribeca Venture Partners, Collaborative Fund, andGreat Oaks VC. More here.
Riminder, a two-year-old, Paris-based maker of AI-driven HR software, has raised $2.3 million in funding from various business angels, including Xavier Niel. TechCrunch has more here.
Strata Oncology, a three-year-old, Ann Arbor, Mi.-based precision medicine startup, has raised $26 million in Series B funding led by Pfizer Ventures and theMerck Global Health Innovation Fund. Other contributors to the round includeDeerfield Management, Renaissance Venture Capital Fund, Arboretum Ventures, and Baird Capital. The company has now raised $38 million. Xconomy has more here.
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|DCM, the 22-year-old venture firm with offices in Silicon Valley, Tokyo, and Beijing, is raising up to $750 million for its ninth VC fund, according to an SEC filing. The firm had closed its eighth flagship fund with $500 million two years ago. |
Draper Esprit, a U.K.-based venture firm, has raised £176 million (€200 million) in fresh investing capital. The Irish Times has more here.
|Greensky, an Atlanta, Ga.-based online lending platform that enables consumer loans at the point of sale, priced its IPO at the high end of its expected range but saw virtually no movement in its share price once trading began yesterday. MarketWatch has more here. |
Magenta Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Ma.-based firm focused on bone marrow transplants, has filed for a $100 million IPO just weeks after bagging $52 million from venture capitalists. EndPoints News has more here.
Xeris Pharma, a Chicago-based developer of injectable hypoglycemia treatments, has filed for a $75 million IPO. FierceBiotech has more here.
|Essential, the phone company founded by Android co-creator Andy Rubin, is considering selling itself and has reportedly canceled plans to develop a new smartphone. Essential had raised around $300 million, including from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. |
Kaltura, a 12-year-old interactive video startup, is expanding its enterprise video platform with the acquisition of Rapt Media, a seven-year-old company that had raised $12 million in funding from investors, including Boulder Ventures. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. According to Crunchbase, Kaltura has raised roughly $166 million over the years, including from Avalon Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, and Goldman Sachs. TechCrunch has more here.
|Founder-investor Jonathan Abrams wonders what would happen if Didi acquired Lyft and much more in this week’s “Equity” podcast (we had fun recording this with him yesterday). |
Media darling Elon Musk is becoming less darling by the day.
When former Google CEO Eric Schmidt was asked about Elon Musk’s warnings about AI at the VivaTech conference in Paris yesterday, he answered, “I think Elon is exactly wrong. . . He doesn’t understand the benefits that this technology will provide to making every human being smarter.” (Of course he said this.)
Venture capital firm IDG Capital has fired a top investment manager in Chinafollowing leaked messages on social media purporting to show he had made sexual advances toward several women in the course of his work. Douglas Jianghad joined IDG in 2013 to lead the firm’s cryptocurrency investments.
|ORIX Growth Capital, the venture arm of the Japan-based financial services firm Orix Corp., is looking to hire an associate. The job is in San Francisco.|
|Augur, a prediction market system that runs on the ethereum blockchain and whose tokens have soared in value in the three years since the outfit orchestrated an initial coin offering, is now at the center of a lawsuit. Former employee Matthew Liston has brought the case, claiming that cofounder Joey Krug and investorJeremy Gardner were among others to make off with Liston’s stake in Augur’s distribution. Coindesk has more here.|
|A patent case that began back in 2011 has reached a conclusion, with Samsungordered to pay about $539 million to Apple over infringements of the latter’s patents in devices that are now long gone. TechCrunch has more here.|
|Pinterest may be growing into its valuation, sources tell Bloomberg. |
When it comes to the race to rent rooms outside of hotels, Airbnb is suddenly neck and neck with travel giant Booking Holdings, says The Information.
Amazon is listening to you, just as you suspected. (Here’s how to find out what it knows.)
|Robot Next Door: a photo series. |
Check out your Twitter timeline from 10 years ago.
This is your kid’s brain when you read them a story.
“She’s doing great. She’s looking at us right there.” Reporters turned to look at the spot he indicated, but there was no sign of the first lady.
|Be still, my beating heart.|