|Hello! Happy Monday.:) |
A few quick notes: StrictlyVC will *not* publish next week. We’re always reluctant to shut things down but as longtime readers know, this happens about two weeks out of the year for our sanity’s sake.:) Also, our striplings will be just out of school and we want to see them before they get sucked into the world of summer camps. (Btw, we’ll probably mention this a few more times this week, so please bear with us.)
Also, a quick reminder that our just-drinks event is coming up fast, co-hosted with our friend, investor Semil Shah. We’re excited! Giant thanks again to Lightspeed Venture Partners for partnering with us on this.
|At Apple‘s annual conference for developers, which kicked off earlier today, execs are looking to both wow the audience with new features but also shore up confidence that the company can deliver quality software. It sounds like the company is delivering on the first front, as of this writing. |
Here’s what else you may have missed.
After a week of rumors, Microsoft today confirmed that it has acquired GitHub, the popular Git-based code sharing and collaboration service. The price of the acquisition was $7.5 billion in Microsoft stock. GitHub had raised $350 million; during its last private fundraising round in 2015, it was valued at $2 billion. The deal looks like an especially big win for venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, which astonished the industry when in 2012, it wrote a $100 million check to GitHub, making what was then the firm’s biggest investment ever. TechCrunch has more on the deal here. Recode has more on AH’s return here. And here’s more on GitHub’s new CEO, Nat Friedman.
U.S. stocks just reached a 12-week high.
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|Y Combinator’s Plan to Help More of Its Companies Lock Down Series A Funding|
|Y Combinator, the popular startup accelerator program, has never been shy about experimenting. Now, in its latest trial, the outfit is launching what it’s calling a Series A program. The idea is to help alums that maybe picked up seed funding after one of YC’s famous Demo Day presentations but that could use some help thinking through how much to raise in Series A funding, and from whom. |
We talked Friday with the YC partner who is leading the program, Aaron Harris, about how it will work, why YC deems it necessary, and what it signals about the 15 companies that will be accepted into each of these batches, where they will meet every other week over a two-month period to discuss (in part) business models, forecasts, pitch decks, and how to approach meeting with different types of investors.
For readers who don’t know you, how did you wind up at YC and how long have you been involved with the organization?
I’ve been a partner for five years. I cofounded a [since shuttered] company, TutorSpree, which went through YC in 2011 and was funded by Sequoia Capital. Before that, I worked at a hedge fund in New York.
Why create programming around Series A rounds?
As YC has gotten bigger, we’ve had more companies reaching Series A level funding, and what I noticed was that we didn’t have great advice to give them. The advice was sort of scaled up from seed [round discussions] and while that works for some, it doesn’t work for others. It became apparent that founders don’t have a great sense of who they should be talking with and about what.
In 2017, 62 of our alums raised $550 million across their Series A rounds. That’s more than in any other portfolio in the world as far as I’m aware, so we should know more than others. But we hadn’t established best practices around this, so I started advising companies on a one-off basis about six months ago; now, we’re formalizing the process.
How long after companies graduate from YC and close their seed rounds do they raise Series A rounds typically? And what are some of the things you learned by looking across your portfolio?
|Babytree, an 11-year-old, China-based pregnancy and new parent e-commerce site, has raised $219 million from Alibaba in exchange for a 10 percent stake in its business. China Money Network has more here. |
Bext360, a year-old, Denver, Co.-based traceability SaaS platform that’s focusing on critical supply chains like coffee, cocoa, seafood, palm oil, cotton, and timber, has raised $2.2 million in seed funding, bringing its total funding to roughly $3.4 million. SKS Ventures led the round, with participation from Plug and Play Ventures and individual angel investors. More here.
Boxbot, a two-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based startup focused on self-driving delivery vehicles (though it isn’t being more specific than that yet), has raised $7.5 million in seed funding led by Artiman Ventures, with participation from Toyota AI Ventures, Pear Ventures, Afore Capital, Ironfire Ventures and The House Fund. The company has now raised $9 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
Cast, a 28-year-old, New York–based security outfit, has raised $12 million in funding from DevFactory, CM-CIC Investment, Keren Finance and the Boston Consulting Group. More here.
CMR Surgical, a four-year-old, Cambridge, U.K.-based surgical robotics company, has closed on $100 million in Series B funding, including from Zheijiang Silk Road Fund and earlier investors Escala Capital Investments, LGT, Cambridge Innovation Capital and Watrium. More here.
Hyperchain Technologies, a two-year-old, Hangzhou, China-based enterprise blockchain platform, has raised around $234 million in Series B funding from Xinhu Zhongbao and China SDIC Gaoxin Industrial Investment Corp, among others. China Money Network has more here.
Lendix, a four-year-old, Paris-based lending platform, has raised $37 million in new funding led by Idinvest and Allianz, with participation from CIR SpA and earlier backers Partech, CNP Assurances, Decaux Frères Investissements and Matmut. TechCrunch has more here.
Locus, a three-year-old, Bengaluru, India-based logistics mapping startup, has raised $4 million in new funding from Rocketship.vc, Recruit Strategic Partners,pi Ventures, Blume Ventures, Exfinity Venture Partners, BeeNext and growX. TechCrunch has more here.
Innoactive, a five-year-old, Munich, Germany-based provider of VR/AR enterprise software, has raised € 4.4 million (about $5.1 million) in funding. Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners led the round, with participation from Capnamic Ventures. More here.
PlayVS, a year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based startup that’s developing software to formalize high school gaming competitions, has raised $15 million in Series A funding round led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation fromScience, CrossCut Ventures, Cross Culture Ventures, funds affiliated with theSan Francisco 49ers, and numerous individual investors. TechCrunch has more here.
Systum, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based cloud-based, digital operating platform for small to medium-sized businesses that was founded by a former president of both SAP and NetSuite, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding led by Underscore VC and Hearst Ventures. More here.
Tamara Mellon, a 1.5-year-old, L.A.-based direct-to-consumer women’s luxury footwear brand, has raised $24 million in Series B funding led by earlier investor New Enterprise Associates, with participation from new investor Quadrille Capital. The company has now raised $37 million altogether. More here.
WhereTo, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based AI-based travel platform that aims to simplify business travel planning for corporations and their employees, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Emergence Capital. More here.
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|Sequoia Capital Partner Matt Huang will leave the firm to start a new cryptocurrency fund with Fred Ehrsam, co-founder of Coinbase, according to the WSJ. Sequoia will continue to invest in blockchain-related technologies and is making a substantial commitment to Huang and Ehrsam’s new fund, says the report. |
LG Group, the Seoul, Korea-based conglomerate that makes chemicals, electronics and telecom products, says it has set up LG Technology Ventures in the U.S. in the latest effort to find promising start-ups engaging in robots, artificial intelligence and auto parts. The corporate venture unit will reportedly manage four separate funds worth a total of $400 million. BusinessKorea has more here.
Meritech Capital Partners, the 19-year-old, late-stage, Palo Alto, Ca.-based venture firm, has raised $630 million for its sixth venture fund, shows an SEC filing. The firm is led by Paul Madera, George Bischof, Max Motschwiller, Craig Sherman, and Robert Ward. More here.
Moneta Ventures, a four-year-old, Folsom, Ca.-based early stage venture firm focused primarily on startups in (relatively underserved) Sacramento and the broader Bay Area, has closed its second fund with $50 million. It also opened a second office in Austin, Tex. and promoted investor Sabya Das to partner. More here.
Global venture capital firm White Star Capital has closed a second fund of $180 million, money it plans to invest in “transatlantic” companies that need help to go international, it says. White Star had closed its debut fund with $70 million in 2015 and has backed around 26 startups since. TechCrunch has more here.
China just launched a RMB100 billion ($15.57 billion) fund to support economic integration and development in the Yangtze River Delta Economic Zone, according to the country’s official state-run press agency. Launched in Shanghai, the Yangtze River Delta Collaborative Advantage Fund will invest in “hard technologies,” with a focus on artificial intelligence, smart logistics and biotech. China Money Network has more here.
Zeev Ventures, a Palo Alto, Ca.-based seed-stage venture firm operated by sole general partner Oren Zeev, is looking to raise a fourth fund, shows an SEC filingthat doesn’t list a target. Zeev previously spent a dozen years with Apax Partners.More here.
|Domo, an eight-year-old, Utah-based developer of cloud-based enterprise software launched by Omniture founder Josh James, filed for an IPO on Friday. The number of shares that will be sold as well as the stock’s pricing terms have yet to be set. CNBC has more here.|
|Lyft is in discussions to acquire Citi Bike operator Motivate for $250 million, says The Information, though nothing has been finalized. More here.|
|The publicly traded security vendor Palo Alto Networks has announced that Nikesh Arora will take over as CEO and executive chairman. Arora left his post as chief business officer at Google in 2014 to join SoftBank as its president and COO, though he abruptly resigned in 2016. Recode has more here. |
Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting is happening this week, and there’s a growing movement to boot four members — including Elon Musk’s brother Kimball Musk — from Tesla’s board. Business Insider has more here.
Some 10 years ago, Nathan Myhrvold, the former chief technology officer of Microsoft, raised nearly $3 billion for two private equity funds from financial investors and tech companies. They were designed to invest in patents and innovations over a lifespan of 20 years and halfway into their run, they are deep in the red, reports Forbes. More here.
|Facebook has reached data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers — including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung — over the last decade, providing them with vast amounts of their users’ data without their explicit consent, says the New York Times. |
Worried About big tech? China’s giants make America’s look tame.
|Detours The dating game. |
In conversation: Conan O’Brien.
Dancing FBI agent does backlip, loses gun, accidentally shoots someone.
|Too bad Michael Cohen didn’t have one of these.|