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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: 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.


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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.)

StrictlyVC: March 9, 2018

Friday! Hope you have a terrific weekend, everyone!

Also, thanks very much to Spark PR for showing some SVC love. That color suits you! (Tim, you especially.) We like the added touch of the unicorn piñata.


Top News


Bird, the young Santa Monica, Ca.-based electric scooter company that we profiled less than a month ago, is raising as much as $100 million in new funding at a $300 million valuation, according to TechCrunch. More here.


Lloyd Blankfein is preparing to step down as Goldman Sachs CEO as soon as the end of the year, capping a more than 12-year run that has made him one of the longest-serving bosses on Wall Street. According to the WSJ, Goldman isn’t looking beyond the firm’s two co-president to replace him.


Sponsored By . . .


LawTrades provides vetted corporate attorneys — each of whom have been General Counsel or senior in-house counsel — to provide on-demand assistance at a remarkably low monthly subscription. The platform provides clear transparent prices with low fixed hourly rates of below $200 per hour, and there is no minimum use requirement. Companies get the benefit of a dedicated project manager to monitor their progress and ability to work with the same LawTrades lawyer over time. For a limited time, you can sign up for one month free. Learn more here.


Another New Survey Underscores That Skilled Workers Can Live Pretty Much Wherever They Want


If want to live outside an expensive city like San Francisco or New York, it pays to have specialized knowledge. So suggests a new survey out of Upwork, the freelancing platform created from the 2013 merger of Elance and oDesk that connects businesses and independent contractors.

According to feedback from more than 1,005 workforce hiring decision-makers conducted on Upwork’s behalf by the company Inavaro, skilled workers can pretty much live wherever they want and employers will come to them. The reason: companies say they are struggling to find talent, with the average position open for 36 days and some engineering jobs vacant for up to 45 days.

In fact, though the majority of organizations surveyed — 57 percent — don’t support a work-from-home policy, those that do say they’ve become increasingly inclusive of people who work outside the office, and five times as many hiring managers expect more of their team to work remotely in the next decade than expect less. Put simply, they say the most skilled person for the job outweighs that person’s ability to work in the same location as the rest of the team.

The survey’s findings aren’t a huge surprise for a number of reasons, including that it’s in Upwork’s interests to promote the idea that freelancing is where it’s at. (The more freelancers it has to choose from, the better for its platform.)

It’s also the case that mobility has slowed dramatically, with slightly more than one in ten Americans (11.2 percent) moving between 2015 and 2016 — roughly half the rate that it was 60 years ago, when the Census began tracking American mobility. In some situations, people simply can’t move, particularly in cases where their homes act as a kind of tether. But many more are choosing not to move, including because the cost of living is higher elsewhere and because they are finding job opportunities where they are.

That’s especially true if they’re more educated.


More here.


New Funds


Allegion, an Ireland-based publicly traded global security products and software company, has launched a $50 million corporate venture fund, after partnering with the corporate venture capital firm Touchdown Ventures, which will help manage the effort. More here.


The high-end audio technology company Bose is getting into the augmented reality game with a new product and a $50 million fund devoted to startups that will develop services for its new platform. TechCrunch has more here.


Mars Petcare, a pet nutrition and healthcare company based in Brussels, Belgium, has created a $100 million venture capital fund called Companion Fund in partnership with Digitalis Ventures, an investment firm with offices in L.A., New York, San Francisco, and London. The fund will provide capital and support to startups that are addressing the needs of pets, pet owners and vets. More here.


Multicoin Capital, a new, Austin, Tex.-based cryptofund that invests in blockchain tokens, says that David SacksMarc AndreessenChris DixonElad GilVy Capital and Passport Capital are among its investors and that it expects to close its debut fund with $250 million by the end of the second quarter of this year. As CoinDesk notes, Civic founder Vinny Lingham joined the fund as a general partner last December. More here and here.




Boxed, a 5.5-year-old, New York-based bulk-buying site for food and household items, reportedly rejected a $400 million acquisition offer from grocer Kroger. The company has raised more than $130 million in funding from firms that includeEniac VenturesGGV CapitalDST Global and FJ Labs. Bloomberg has the story here. (And more here in TechCrunch.)




Twitter says it has appointed a new chief technology officer, Parag Agrawal. Agrawal had joined the company in 2011 as an ads engineer. The role was previously held by Adam Messinger, who left in late 2016. CNBC has more here.


Longtime tech journalist Cory Johnson says he has left Bloomberg TV to join the crypto company Ripple as its chief market strategist. Johnson, who helped found and has worked for CNBC, among other media organizations, had also logged a bit of time as a hedge fund manager and private investor earlier in his career.


Former President Barack Obama is in advanced negotiations with Netflix to produce a series of high-profile shows that will provide him a global platform, according to the New York Times.


Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical industry’s enfant terrible, was sentenced today to seven years in prison.


Essential Reads


Billionaire investor Peter Thiel just landed a fresh victory in Washington. His data-mining startup, Palantir Technologies, has won a much-contested contract to provide software to the U.S. Army.


The FCC says tiny satellites from a still-in-stealth-mode startup called Swarm Technologies could endanger other spacecraft.




The lucrative art of chicken sexing.


The Sopranos are coming back.


A college student explains modern dating to his mother.


Retail Therapy


No. Sorry. This should be illegal.


StrictlyVC: March 7, 2018

Thursday! Hope yours has been going well. (New York readers, we’re thinking of you. We know it must be a slushy mess over there.)



Top News


Snap CEO Evan Spiegel just told employees in a company-wide directive that he wants the company to work toward break-even this year, an ambitious goal that could require Snap to aggressively cut costs, notes The Information. It reports that Snap last year lost $720 million, before interest, taxes and charges like stock compensation expenses, due mostly to heavy spending on R&D and marketing. More here.


JPMorgan Chase co-president Daniel Pinto warned today that equity markets could fall as much as 40 percent in the next two to three years. Bloomberg has more here.



This Startup Just Raised $5 Million to Automate the Clunky Real Estate Appraisal Process


When Noah Isaacs and John Meadows were best friends, growing up in Berkeley, Ca., they dreamed of remaining friends for life. What they didn’t imagine was living together in New York and starting a company together, yet they have. It’s called Bowery Valuation, and it’s aiming to bring commercial real estate appraisals — currently an $8 billion market — into the modern era at long last.


Investors certainly see the need for an upgrade. The nearly three-year-old outfit just raised $5 million in seed funding, including from Cushman & Wakefield. In fact, the real estate giant is now using the startup’s technology to automate and optimize the entire appraisal process, allowing its appraisers to provide multi-family valuation services (meaning for apartment complexes) for the first time.


For Cushman & Wakefield, that’s a big deal. The valuation and appraisal piece of real estate has remained largely unchanged over time. Appraisers trudge through properties, scribble down details, snap pictures, and complete a painstaking analysis afterward that includes visiting more than a dozen sites to collect information about taxes, zoning, and land use. It’s sufficiently onerous that until Bowery came along, Cushman employees would only appraise bigger commercial buildings — a missed opportunity given that in New York, apartment complexes make up the majority of the buildings.


Yet Isaacs and Meadows say they understood well Cushman’s pain — as well as that of all appraisers. As a University of Pennsylvania undergrad, Meadows knew he wanted to get into real estate development and figured there was no better place to start than by doing appraisals, which is often a building block toward a career in lending or with a brokerage. But when he began work at a large independent appraisal firm in New York, he was horrified by the industry’s antiquated ways of doing things. He plugged along, making mental notes, while Issacs, who’d attended McGill University in Montreal, was working as a statistician for the Toronto Blue Jays. (“Reading the book Moneyball in high school, I thought it would be the coolest job in the world,” says Isaacs. “But it wasn’t all I’d dreamt it would be.”)


Soon, Meadows and Isaacs, whose family worked in real estate, were talking about getting Isaacs to New York.


More here.


New Fundings, a seven-year-old, Beijing, China-based online education platform, has raised $200 million in Series E funding led by Toutiao. DealStreetAsia has more here.


Ancient Nutrition, a 1.5-year-old, Nashville, Tn.-based protein supplement and meal replacement brand, has raised $103 million in fresh funding from VMG PartnersHillhouse CapitalICONIQ Capital, among others. More here.


Bandura Systems, a 5.5-year-old, Columbia, Md. and St. Louis, Missouri-based developer of a threat intelligence gateway, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding, including from Blu VenturesGula Tech Adventures, the Maryland Tech Development Corp.Prosper Women EntrepreneursSixThirty, and UMB Financial Corporation. Baltimore has more here.


Camera IQ, a two-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based company whose ambition seems to be helping marketers take advantage of user-generated photos to boost their brands, has raised $4.3 million in seed funding led by Shasta Ventures, with participation from BetaworksHomebrew and WndrCo. A little more here.


Carsome, a three-year-old, Malaysia-based car-trading platform that lets consumers sell their cars to dealers online, has raised $19 million in Series B funding led by Burda Principal Investments. Earlier backers Gobi Partners,InnoVen Capital and Lumia Capital also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.


CryptoMove, a three-year-old, Walnut Creek, Ca.-based security startup that breaks data into pieces and continually moves it around, making it virtually impossible for hackers to do anything with it should they get ahold of one of the pieces, has raised roughly $8 million in new funding.  Social Capital appears to have led the round, judging by an SEC filing. More about the company here.


Eight, a nearly four-year-old, New York-based maker of a “smart” mattress that tracks 15 sleep factors, has raised $14 million in Series B funding led by Khosla Ventures, with participation from Y Combinator and Yunqi Partners. The company has now raised $27 million altogether. More here.


ELSA, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based developer of a language-learning app, has raised $3.2 million in seed funding led by Monk’s Hill Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


The Fabric, a 5.5-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based startup foundry focused primarily on cloud and IoT infrastructure deals, has raised $15 million for its third funding vehicle. Investors include Verizon Ventures and March Capital Partners. TechCrunch has more here.


Netsparker, an 8.5-year-old, London-based developer of web application security scanning software, has raised $40 million in funding led by Turn/River Capital.More here.


Poka, a five-year-old, Quebec-based training and knowledge platform for manufacturers, has raised $10 million in funding from Caisse de dépôt et placement du QuébecRobert Bosch Venture Capital and the Leclerc family, along with earlier backers iNovia Capital and Uncork CapitalMore here.


Prevail Therapeutics, a year-old, New York-based company that was launched last year by OrbiMed’s co-head of private equity and is developing a general therapy for Parkinson’s disease, has closed on $75 million in first-round funding. OrbiMed participated, as you might imagine. So did Pontifax FundRA Capital ManagementEcoR1 CapitalOmega FundsBVF PartnersBoxer Capital,Adage Capital Management and Alexandria Venture Investments. FierceBiotech has more here.


Revolution Foods, a 12-year-old, Oakland Ca.-based company that delivers ready-to-eat meal kits for school children and families, just raised roughly $46 million in fresh capital, shows an SEC filing that lists earlier investor Steve Case as a director. More here.


Senic, a 5.5-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based smart home technology startup whose products include a smart home device controller and an Alexa-enabled light that includes speech control, has raised $4 million in seed funding. Investors include Birchmere VenturesTarget Partners, and the home appliance maker GiraMore here.


SolarisBank, a two-year-old, Berlin-based banking platform that lets companies offer their own financial products, has raised €56.6 million ($69.7 million) in Series B funding from investors that include the Spanish bank BBVA (which just yesterday upped its investment in the U.K. challenger bank Atom Bank), VisaLakestarABN AMRO and earlier backers Arvato Financial Solutions and SBI Group. TechCrunch has more here.


Starsky Robotics, a year-old, San Francisco-based autonomous trucking company, has raised $16.5 million in Series A funding led by Shasta Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


ViewPoint Therapeutics, a nearly four-year-old, San Francisco-based biotech company that’s developing crystallin stabilizers to prevent and treat cataracts and presbyopia, has raised $35 million in Series B funding led by The Rise Fund, with participation from Novo Holdings A/S and other investors. More here.


Wingly, a three-year-old, Paris-based flight sharing platform connecting pilots and passengers, has raised €2m in seed funding, including from Howzat Partners and angel investors Philipp Rösler and Stephane Mayer. has more here.


New Funds


Lavrock Ventures, a 1.5-year-old, McLean, Va.-based venture capital firm, raised $25 million for its first fund. It expects to invest more than $50 million, however, through the help of special purpose vehicles. VentureBeat has more here.


Prime Venture Partners, a seven-year-old, Bengaluru, India-based seed-stage venture firm, has closed its third fund with roughly $60 million. Started by three serial entrepreneurs – Sanjay Swamy, Shripati Acharya and Amit Somani — the firm’s newest fund is its largest. It closed its previous fund with $46 million in 2015. TechCrunch has more here.


Turn/River Capital, a nearly six-year-old, San Francisco-based growth equity and buyout firm, raised $168 million for its third fund, according to a new press release that says the vehicle was raised in less than 90 days. More here.




Fantasy sports site FanDuel is reportedly in advanced talks to go public via a reverse merger with Platinum Eagle Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company formed earlier this year by veteran media executive Jeff Sagansky. Axios has the story here.




Publicly traded health insurer Cigna has agreed to buy the publicly traded pharmacy benefit giant Express Scripts for $52 billion in cash and stock, or $96.03 per share — a 30 percent premium to yesterday’s closing price. Axios has more here on the deal.


Rolling Stone magazine owner Penske Media has acquired SheKnows Media, a network of female-focused sites and the BlogHer conference business. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, but SheKnows is profitable and grew its revenue by 30 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared with the same period a year earlier, according to its CEO. The company was owned by the private equity firm Great Hill Partners. The WSJ has more here.


Stripe, the $9 billion payments processing startup, has purchased Index, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based startup provides software for in-store payments systems, like the PIN pads that you probably already use to pay with a debit or credit card at your local Target or pharmacy. According to Business Insider, the company’s biggest claim-to-fame is that its software for PIN pads can read a chip card in under a second, making for faster checkouts. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed but Crunchbase shows that Index had raised $26 million from investors, including General Catalyst Partners and Innovation Endeavors.




Airbnb has poached Greg Greeley, formerly Amazon’s VP of Prime & Delivery Experience, Greeley will head up company’s Homes unit, as well as Airbnb Collections. TechCrunch has more here.


Joining the number of early Facebook execs who’ve been publicly acknowledging the platform’s serious downsides, cofounder Chris Hughes acknowledged before a small audience in San Francisco today that Facebook has played a “negative role” in politics. Its “algorithms are not neutral,” he said.


Travis Kalanick, the cofounder and longtime CEO of Uber, is launching a new investment fund called the 10100 Fund. According to an announcement on his Twitter account, the new fund will focus on “large-scale job creation.”


Uber has hired Assaf Ronen, a top Amazon voice exec, as its new head of product. Recode has more here.


Coinbase, the cryptocurrency trading platform, has hired Eric Scro as its VP of finance. Scro joins the company from the NYSE, which he was the head of finance. Business Insider has more here.





Wells Fargo is looking to hire a venture capital associate to work with its healthcare and tech divisions. The job is in Palo Alto, Ca.




A comprehensive new study from MIT looks at a decade of tweets, and finds that not only is the truth slower to spread, but that the threat of bots and the natural network effects of social media are no excuse: we’re doing it to ourselves.


Essential Reads


Some early owners of Tesla’s Model 3 are reporting quality problems (though they seem willing to look past these).


The fringe idea of universal basic income could be going mainstream.




New York Times have long been dominated by white men. Now, it’s adding the stories of 15 remarkable women.


The massive prize luring miners to the stars.




Retail Therapy


Please no one show this to our eight-year-old.


StrictlyVC: March 6, 2018

What? You say you’ve been wanting to see a new picture of StrictlyVC’s mascot, Brodie the Wonder Dog, who is now seven months old! You’re in luck, thanks to our friend of many years, photographer Bart Nagel. We would like to make clear that this was taken at a social outing, not a formal photo shoot of Brodie. We aren’t that crazy.

Happy Tuesday, everyone.:)


Top News


The NYSE and its sister markets were just fined $14 million by U.S. securities regulators for a series of infractions including missteps in dealing with a three-and-a-half hour trading halt in July 2015 and a wild trading session that roiled exchange-traded funds a month later. Bloomberg has the story here.


Sponsored By . . .


LawTrades provides vetted corporate attorneys — each of whom have been General Counsel or senior in-house counsel — to provide on-demand assistance at a remarkably low monthly subscription. The platform provides clear transparent prices with low fixed hourly rates of below $200 per hour, and there is no minimum use requirement. Companies get the benefit of a dedicated project manager to monitor their progress and ability to work with the same LawTrades lawyer over time. For a limited time, you can sign up for one month free. Learn more here.


A Tale of Two Superstores with Superstore Ambitions: Robinhood and Cadre


The buzzy startups Robinhood and Cadre are known for different things. Five-year-old Robinhood has established its reputation by offering commission-free stock trading, while three-year-old Cadre burst onto the scene with a real estate investing platform. Yet both have developed similar ambitions to become financial “superstores,” using the Amazon playbook of starting in one place, and quickly expanding into other terrain.


“If you think about Amazon, they took the book model, built brand equity, trust, credibility, and now they are a superstore for any retail product,” Cadre’s cofounder and CEO Ryan Williams told attendees at a StrictlyVC event in San Francisco last week. “We’re doing the same for the investments world.”


Robinhood’s cofounder and CEO, Vlad Tenev, speaking at the same event later in the evening, had much the same messaging. “Five years from now,” Tenev told the crowd, Robinhood will be a “full service financial institution” with every product one can find at a “local bank branch and more.”


Whether either startup or both will realize their dream is something we won’t know for years, but certainly both are already being watched closely by competitors, many of which find themselves playing catch-up these days. In fact, throwing the old guard off balance is largely the modus operandi of both companies.


It’s something they share in common with the company they are most trying to emulate — yet could ultimately find themselves competing against. As the WSJ reported just yesterday, Amazon is now in talks with big banks, including JPMorgan Chase, about building a checking-account-like product.


You can guess it would be just the first of many financial products to come.


More here.


New Fundings


The Athletic, a two-year-old, Bay Area-based subscription-based sports media startup, has raised $20 million led by Evolution Media, the growth-stage investment company founded by TPG Growth and Creative Artists Agency. Before this round, the Athletic raised $10 million in two rounds led by Courtside Ventures. The WSJ has more here.


Automox, a three-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based patch management and cybersecurity company whose cloud-based platform aims to help its customers gain more control and visibility into their client and server infrastructures, has raised $2 million led by Blue Note Ventures, with participation from individual investors. More here.


Corvus, a year-old, Boston-based commercial insurance startup, has raised $4 million in funding led by Bain Capital Ventures. The Boston Globe has more here.


Grabr, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based peer-to-peer community marketplace for travelers needing extra storage space in others’ luggage (it’s all explained here), has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Foundation Capital, with participation from individual investors, including Square’s engineering lead, Gokul Rajaram.


HQ, the nearly three-year-old, New York-based live trivia game-show app, has raised $15 million in new  funding at a $100 million valuation led by Founders Fund and joined by earlier investor Lightspeed Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here.


Kr Space, a four-year-old, Beijing, China-based co-working space company, has raised $94.6 million in funding from undisclosed investors. DealStreetAsia has more here.


Mighty, a New York-based outfit that makes software for personal injury litigation finance companies, says it has raised $114 million in funding. It isn’t naming its investors. More here.


Nubank, a nearly five-year-old, São Paulo, Brazil-based digital finance company that received regulatory approval to become a bank last month, has raised $150 million in Series E funding led by DST Global, with participation from Founders FundRedpoint VenturesRibbit CapitalQED Investors, and Dragoneer. Reuters has a bit more here.


Snyk, a three-year-old, London-based based company whose product aims to help developers and enterprise security to continuously find and fix vulnerable dependencies without slowing down, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led byBoldstart Ventures and Canaan Partners, with participation from Heavybit,FundFire, and individual investors. The company has now raised $10 million to date. More here.


TeraPore Technologies, a five-year-old, South San Francisco, Ca.-based developer of advanced nanofiltration membrane systems for bioprocess and other applications, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Anzu Partners, with participation from RA Capital Management and Artiman Ventures, as well asWilson Sonsini Goodrich & RosatiMore here.


UiPath, a 13-year-old, New York-based maker of robotic process automation software, has raised $120 million in Series B funding, including from Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers. TechCrunch has more here.


Upskill, an eight-year-old, Herndon, Va.-based company that makes enterprise augmented reality software, has raised $17.2 million in funding from Accentureand Cisco Investments, as well as earlier backers Boeing HorizonXGE VenturesNew Enterprise Associates, and other unnamed investors. DC has more here.


Wecash, a four-year-old, Beijing, China, and Freemont, Ca.-based online credit rating platform, has raised $160 million in Series D funding co-led by ORIX Asia Capital and SEA Group, with participation from Sagamore InvestmentsSIG AsiaForebright CapitalLingfeng Capital and Hongdao Capital. DealStreetAsia has more here.


Whoop, a Boston-based maker of a fitness tracker for serious athletes, has raised $25 million in Series C funding led by UAE71 Capital, with participation from theNational Football League Players Association, (Kevin) Durant Company,Thursday Ventures, and earlier backers. The latter includes Two Sigma VenturesAccomplice, Mousse PartnersPromus Ventures and NextView Ventures. Bloomberg has more here.


New Funds


Liquid 2 Ventures, a three-year-old, seed-stage firm that was cofounded former football great Joe Montana, is raising up to $50 million for its second fund, shows an SEC filing that states fundraising began last year. More here.




Co-working juggernaut WeWork is acquiring Conductor, a 13-year-old, New York-based company that’s best known for search engine optimization. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed but reportedly, Conductor is a longtime customer of WeWork and its founder, Seth Besmertnik, went to college with WeWork CEO Adam Neumann. TechCrunch has more here.




ARTIS Ventures has named Vasudev (Vas) Bailey as its newest partner. He was formerly a senior VP at the software company Quid. It also promoted Austin Walne, who has been a venture partner with the firm for three years, to partner.


Sarah Cannon has joined Index Ventures as a partner. Previously, Cannon spent three-and-a-half years as a principal with CapitalG, Alphabet’s growth equity fund.




How Uber spent $10.7 million in nine years.


Traditional VC rounds — convertible notes seed, angel, Series A, Series B, etc. — now pale in comparison to ICOs in terms of dollar volume.


Essential Reads


Facebook‘s political nightmare is about to get worse.


When to report a cyberattack? For companies, that’s still a dilemma.




How to be lazy.


A complete guide to protein powder supplements.


Retail Therapy


The Cyclone V10. It’ll spiral around your house effortlessly, they say.

StrictlyVC: March 5, 2018

Hi! Welcome back. We’re publishing in between a bunch of meetings today, so having to keep things short(ish) and sweet. Hope your week is off to a great start.:)


Top News


U.S. stocks rose today and Treasuries fell as investors decided that President Donald Trump’s tough tariff talk probably won’t translate into severe protectionist policies after all. The market appears to be responding to House Speaker Paul Ryan, who broke with Trump over his decision to impose tariffs on imported aluminum and steel products, and who issued an implicit warning to the White House today to drop the plan.


Sponsored By . . .


LawTrades provides vetted corporate attorneys — each of whom have been General Counsel or senior in-house counsel — to provide on-demand assistance at a remarkably low monthly subscription. The platform provides clear transparent prices with low fixed hourly rates of below $200 per hour, and there is no minimum use requirement. Companies get the benefit of a dedicated project manager to monitor their progress and ability to work with the same LawTrades lawyer over time. For a limited time, you can sign up for one month free. Learn more here.



Tina Sharkey Has 300 Things to Sell You (You May Find Yourself Buying Them, Too)


Brandless is an usual company. A direct-to-consumer purveyor of food, beauty, and personal care products, it says that every item it makes is non-genetically modified, kosher, fair-trade, gluten-free, often organic and, in the case of cleaning supplies, EPA “Safer Choice” certified. They are also priced at $3 across the board. The idea, says cofounder and CEO Tina Sharkey, is to “democratize better.” She believes that Brandless — which is very much a brand — is selling items to people, often with dietary restrictions, who “couldn’t shop their values” before Brandless.


That’s no small thing to Sharkey, who cares very much about Brandless’s customers, as anyone who has seen her speak publicly can attest. In fact, Sharkey, appearing at a StrictlyVC event last week, spoke about the importance of shared principles in sweeping language that elicited fervor in many of the gathered listeners — and some fatigue in others.


She talked of Brandless users who didn’t have access before to affordable gluten-free and organic products or “who had to drive 100 miles round trip” or who “didn’t know things existed like tree-free toilet paper, made with sugar cane and bamboo grasses.” (This last product was news to us, too.)


Sharkey — who has led a number of consumer-facing companies in her career, including cofounding iVillage and later serving as president and CEO of BabyCenter — said she sees in Brandless users “all of America,” not just those who “live in such a frickin’ bubble on the coasts.” Elites in East and West Coast cities are “not our country” alone, she said. “Our country is filled with extraordinary people, and we have bifurcated and sliced and diced and segmented people to such a degree that we’ve forgotten that we’re all awesome Americans, and American deserve better, no matter your politics.”


If it was hard to remember at times that she was talking about a company that sells nearly 300 household items, from maple syrup to fluoride-free toothpaste, the crowd didn’t seem to notice, nodding along in agreement.


More here.


New Fundings


Jscrambler, a three-year-old, Lisbon, Portugal-based web security startup, has raised roughly $2.3 million in Series A funding from Sonae IM and Portugal VenturesMore here.


Luminoso, a nearly eight-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based natural language company that helps its customers discover value in their unstructured text data (think product reviews, call center and chatbot transcripts), has raised $12.6 million in Series A1 funding led by SD Porter Holdings and Raptor HoldcoMore here.


Owlstone Medical, a 14-year-old, Cambridge, England-based diagnostics company that’s developing a breathalyzer to detect disease, has raised $15 million in funding co-led by Horizons Ventures and earlier backer Aviva VenturesMore here.


Paro, a nearly three-year-old, Chicago-based platform that matches businesses with freelance bookkeepers, accountants, financial analysts, and CFOs who provide on-demand, hourly support, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led byRevolution Ventures, with participation from Global Founders Capital and Tom Williams, a prolific venture investor. TechCrunch has more here.


Redeam, a three-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based company whose technology enables tours and activities companies to more easily do business with third parties that resell their tickets, has raised $7.7 million in Series A funding led by Vertical Venture Partners, with participation from Thayer VenturesJetBlue Technology VenturesTallwave Capital and Peninsula VenturesMore here.


RedDoorz, a three-year-old, Singapore-based budget hotel startup focused on Southeast Asia, has raised $11 million in new funding to expand its presence. Investors include DeepSky CapitalFengHe Group and Hendale Capital, along with earlier backers Sushquehanna International Group , IFCInnoVen Capitaland Jungle Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


Starcity, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that’s building community-based housing akin to dorm rooms to make cities more affordable, has raised $16.45 million in Series A funding from Bullpen Capital, Y CombinatorInvest AGAlrai Capital and a number of earlier investors. The New York Times takes alook here.




Google, which acquired Zagat for $151 million nearly seven years ago, is now selling the company to The Infatuation, an upstart restaurant review company that has “harnessed smartphone apps, an Instagram hashtag and a texting recommendation service as parts of its path to growth,” says the New York Times. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed.


Amazon has confirmed its acquisition of the U.K.- and Ireland-based cloud gaming platform GameSparks, a “backend as a service” for game developers to build various features like leaderboards into games and then manage them, all in the cloud. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.




Europe is on course for its busiest start to the year for IPOs since 2015 but a jump in stock market volatility and a few IPO flops have made investors more discerning of where they put their cash.


Bilibili, China’s leading video streaming platform specializing in animation, is headed for a North American share sale, shows a new SEC filing. The company aims to raise some $400 million in fresh capital, says Variety. The disclosure comes only days after iQIYI, one of China’s leading video streamers, revealed details of its IPO on the NASDAQ.


Homology Medicines, a three-year-old, Bedford, Ma.-based venture-backed biotech startup that’s developing a gene therapy delivery platform for rare diseases, has filed with the SEC to raise up to $100 million in an IPO. FierceBiotech has more here.


Zscaler, a 10-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based venture-backed company that sells a cloud-based network security service to enterprises, announced terms for its IPO today, revealing plans to raise $110 million by offering 10 million shares at a price range of $10 to $12. At the midpoint of the proposed range, Zscaler would command a fully diluted market value of $1.4 billion. More here.




Emilie Choi, who did more than 40 deals at LinkedIn as its head of mergers and acquisitions for eight years, has joined the digital currency exchange Coinbase as its VP of corporate and business development. Recode takes a look at what Coinbase might buy.


David Fialkow is a Boston-based cofounder and managing director of General Catalyst. He also helped produce “Icarus,” a documentary that uncovered proof of widespread doping at the Olympic level by the Russian government, and which won the Oscar last night for best documentary feature.


Ilya Fushman, a former Dropbox executive who headed to Index Ventures as a general partner in the summer of 2015, is now joining Kleiner Perkins as a general partner and managing member. Fushman joins another notable industry exec who’s trying to restore Kleiner’s reputation as a top venture firm; as readers might recall, Mamoon Hamid left Social Capital for Kleiner last August.




Kairos VC is looking to bring aboard an associate with a strong physical sciences background. The job is in Pasadena, Ca.




Coastal elites are catching the heartland bug, says a new report in the New York Times, which says that in the last three months of 2017, San Francisco lost more residents to outward migration than any other city in the country. More here.


Essential Reads


Apple‘s AirPods earphones have been a surprise hit. Now, the company is planning a push into the high end of the market, says Bloomberg. (Interestingly, it notes, they’re likely to compete with Beats, a company Apple acquired just a few years ago.)


Watch out, Apple and Samsung? Xiaomi could sell smartphones in the U.S. as early as this year, extending the Chinese company’s Western expansion as it plans a highly anticipated IPO.






The best looks from last night’s Oscars and, of course, all the rest of the red carpet looks, too.


The 30 most outrageous, scandalous, and memorable moments in Oscars history.


How to raise a boy.


Retail Therapy


Carpe F**king Diem notebook, because everyone needs a plan.


StrictlyVC: March 2, 2018

Friday! For those of you who made it out to the event Tuesday night, we now have pictures, courtesy of photographer Dani Padgett (who we pretty much adore; she shoots at most of our events). Check them out here.


Hope you have a fantastic weekend, everyone.:)


Top News


YouTube last year stopped hiring white and Asian males for technical positions because they didn’t help the world’s largest video site achieve its goals for improving diversity, according to a civil lawsuit filed by a former recruiter for the company. The suit could embolden other critics of Google’s efforts to promote workforce diversity. The WSJ has more here.



Sponsored By . . .


What do EvenEARNEarnUpEverSafe, and Everlance have in common? ALL are alumni of the Financial Solutions Lab virtual accelerator (and ostensibly, all like the letter E), which is now accepting application for its next class. Selected companies get $250,000 plus access to resources that can help them find their way through fintech regs and consumer pain points, helping them to scale and thrive. Check out FinLab’s Impact Report, and apply now.


Despite Uber Debacle, HackerOne’s CEO Argues Why Every Company Should Be Working with Hackers


In November, Uber disclosed that a year earlier, in 2016,  hackers had stolen 57 million driver and rider accounts and that it paid them a $100,000 ransom to delete the information. The breach was reportedly part of Uber’s bug bounty program, wherein it pays hackers to test its software for vulnerabilities. But the amount was exorbitant by typical standards, and the episode has fueled criticism over the bug bounty practice, which is seen by some as funding criminal activity.

At our StrictlyVC event in San Francisco this week, Marten Mickos, the CEO of HackerOne — which runs Uber’s bug bounty program — answered questions about Uber’s hacking, which is now the subject of at least four lawsuits. His interviewer, cybersecurity reporter Kate Conger, also pressed him on the definition of a good versus bad hacker — and whether there’s much of a difference.

Excerpts from their sit-down follow, edited for length.

KC: For those who don’t know, what does HackerOne do?

MM: The simple truth today is that every single system will get hacked. And the only question is, who do you want to get hacked by? People you trust or criminals? If you choose the former, you swallow that pill, you come to us. We have 160,000 ethical hackers in our network who will hack you within 24 hours. They’ll tell you how they broke in and you’ll pay them a lot of money, but it’s much, much less than if you swallow the other pill.

KC: You were in the news recently and maybe not for the most positive reasons: You administered Uber’s bug bounty program and it got wrist-slapped for [losing the data] of 57 million people and paying out $100,000 to the hacker to keep him quiet. Do you think that behavior muddies the water between ethical hackers and bug bounty programs and bribery?

MM: I’m not here to comment on any particular case. I can note, however, that it hasn’t been shown than 57 million records have been lost forever. They might have been lost for a short time only, but we’ll leave that to others to figure out. But it’s clear that in the world of hacking, if there is intrusion and data exfiltration or extortion, it has nothing to do with ethical hacking or bug bounty programs.

The line there is very clear. We’re very fortunate to run Uber’s bug bounty program and many other really large programs [including for the U.S.] Air Force, Army, and Pentagon. So sure, with technology always, it’s the same technology used for good and bad purposes, and technology itself doesn’t have an opinion about what it’s being used for.

KC: So is that the ethical line between a good and bad hacker — data exfiltration? You can break in as long as you don’t take anything?

MM: The difference between the hacker and the criminal is intent. If you’re an ethical hacker and you’re looking for vulnerabilities in order to report them, you must break in. If you have a neighborhood watch and you ask your neighbors to see if they can break into your house, they have to break in to show you that they can do it. Once inside the house, they shouldn’t take anything, though.

The same idea applies [with bounty programs]. [Hackers] have to show that it’s possible to break in. That’s where you get to the question of authorized versus unauthorized conduct, and then again, it’s the owner of the house who decides which is which. When you break into the house, how much do you need to do? Do you need to bring something outside to show it was possible or not? And that’s an individual decision for every customer of ours, who determines what they need as proof. The more proof you need, the deeper the hackers need to go to find it.

KC: In the security industry in particular, a lot of things that are considered best practices seem from the outside sketchy, for lack of a better word.


More here.



New Fundings


Ascent Technologies, a three-year-old, Chicago-based regulatory technology company, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Alsop Louie Partners, with participation from individual investors, including Randall Kroszner, who previously served as a governor of the Federal Reserve. More here.


C2FO, an eight-year-old, Kansas City, Ks.-based online marketplace where buyers – including Amazon, Costco, and Nordstrom — can negotiate with suppliers, has raised a whopping $100 million in fresh capital. Munich-based Allianz X and Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Investment Company co-led the round, with participation from earlier backers TemasekUnion Square Ventures and Mithril Capital. Regional outlets believe it’s the largest venture-backed funding round the region has seen.More here.


Chehaoduo, a Bejing, China-based online car-trading platform, has closed on nearly $820 million(!) in its latest round of fundraising from a consortium led by internet giant Tencent Holdings. Other investors in the Series C round include Sequoia CapitalYunfeng CapitalICBC International and IDG Capital. China Money Network has more here.


EnsoData, a three-year-old, Madison, Wi.-based artificial intelligence company that caters to the sleep medicine community, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding led by Colle Capital, with participation from HealthX VenturesSternhill AssociatesWisconsin Investment Partners, and M25 GroupMore here.


FreshAddress, a 19-year-old, Newton, Ma.-based email marketing database services company, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from TZP Growth PartnersMore here.


Finch Therapeutics, a four-year-old, Somerville, Ma.-based microbiome therapeutics company that uses machine learning algorithms to reverse engineer successful fecal transplantations and other clinical datasets, has raised $36 million in Series B financing. Investors included Shumway CapitalWillett Advisors,Morgan Noble and Avenir Growth CapitalMore here.


Magazino, a four-year-old, Munich, Germany-based maker of mobile warehouse robots, has raised $24.8 million in funding. Körber Group led the round, with participation from other investors, including CellcomZalando and Fiege LogisticsMore here.


NestAway, a nearly four-year-old, Bengaluru, India-based home rental startup, has raised $51 million in Series D funding from Goldman Sachs and UC-RNT Fund. Earlier investors IDG India and Tiger Global Management also participated in the round. The Hindu has more here.


Saturas, a nearly five-year-old, Israel-based agricultural startup whose sensing system collects real-time data and transmits it to farmers’ automated irrigation control systems, has raised $4 million in funding. Investors include Hubei Forbon Technology Co., Gefen Capital and the Israeli collective farm Ramat Magshimim. AgFunder News has more here.


Scalefast, a four-year-old, Manhattan Beach, Ca.-based direct-to-consumer digital commerce platform that helps lifestyle brands with everything from design to customer service to back-office accounting, has raised $8 million in Series A funding. BGV led the round; other participants included Adara Ventures, B&YFrench Partners and CIC CapitalMore here.


Tagnos, an eight-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based company whose SaaS platform analyzes data from clinical systems to facilitate patient flow through the hospital, has raised $5 million in funding, including from Benhamou Global VenturesMorpheus Ventures and Zebra VenturesMore here.


TickX, a three-year-old, Manchester, U.K.-based startup behind a search engine and discovery platform for events and other “attractions” tickets, has raised £3 million ($4.1 million) in Series A funding. BGF Ventures led the round, with participation from earlier backers Ministry of Sound and 24Haymarket. TechCrunch has more here.


Trizic, a 5.5-year-old, San Francisco-based cloud based platform that enables its wealth management clients to interact with financial firms, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. Sorenson Ventures led the round, and was joined by investorsFISFreestyle CapitalBroadhaven Capital PartnersPEAK6 and Commerce VenturesMore here.





ABC News and The Atlantic are among several finalists interested in purchasing Nate Silver’s statistics and data analysis blog FiveThirtyEight from ESPNsays the WSJ.


An investor group led by former Obama official Maria Contreras-Sweet and billionaire Ron Burkle has agreed to an eleventh-hour $500 million takeover of The Weinstein CoMore here.





Publicly traded storage company Box fell 23 percent yesterday, after giving weak revenue guidance for the coming year. Its decline could dampen the prospects for competitor Dropbox, which is right now planning its IPO, says Seeking Alpha.




Garrett Camp, best known for being a co-founder of Uber and founder of the accelerator and venture fund Expa, is launching his own cryptocurrency.


Industry Ventures has promoted Lindsay Sharma and Ira Simkhovitch to principals on its secondaries investment team. Sharma joined the firm three-and-a-half years ago after working in corporate development at Intuit. Simkhovitch joined around the same time after working as an associate with the Carlyle Group.


Uber cofounder and former CEO Travis Kalanick is joining the board of his friend’s medical office software company, Kareo.


Brian Koo’s offshoot of Formation 8 is done investing out of its debut fund and doesn’t plan new fundraising.


China is using a recent tweet from Elon Musk as a propaganda tool to promote its infrastructure development.


Terminator-style artificial intelligence scenarios are just “one to two decades away,” former Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt told a terrified audience at a security conference in Munich this week.


Zenreach, a WiFi marketing startup that has raised $80 million from high-profile investors, including Joe Lonsdale, Peter Thiel and Marc Andreessen, just laid off 20 percent of its employees. Its CEO has also been replaced.





Touchdown Ventures, the nearly four-year-old outfit that partners with corporations and helps them manage their own venture capital platforms, is hiring a venture capital analyst in Philadelphia and an associate in San Francisco. It’s also looking for an MBA intern to help it out this spring and summer. (That role is in San Francisco, too.)


Essential Reads


Instagram might add video and voice calling.


Ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft are delivering pitiful levels of take-home pay to the hundreds of thousands of U.S. independent contractors, according to an MIT CEEPR study.


Last week, three-year-old social network Vero had fewer than 150,000 downloads. Now it has nearly 3 million. But as the app has grown in popularity, the company and its founder have come under scrutiny.





Seth Meyer takes a closer look at Jared Kushner.


Retail Therapy




StrictlyVC: March 1, 2018

Well, hello! Great hearing from so many of you yesterday.:) We’re sorry to say our T-shirts are all gone (well, they are accounted for; we’ll be shipping them out this weekend). But we promise to keep the rest of you in mind for future spillover swag.


We also have photos from the event coming soon and some coverage below, with much more on the way. Hope you’re having a good Tuesday.


Top News


U.S. stocks plunged today after Donald Trump promised to impose substantial tariffs on foreign metals.


DoorDash has gotten the Softbank Vision Fund treatment. The San Francisco-based food delivery company just sealed up $535 million in Series D funding at a whopping $1.4 billion post-money valuation, says TechCrunch. (Recode says it was only looking for a measly $200 million.) Along with Softbank, earlier backers Sequoia CapitalGIC and Wellcome Trust also joined the round.


Here’s where else Softbank has invested its $100 billion fund so far.


Sponsored By . . .


Fintech startups, how does $250K sound? What about unparalleled access to the banking, financial services, and nonprofit areas where your customers are? Yes? Then be sure to apply for the next class of the Financial Solutions Lab. This highly influential virtual accelerator (today’s StrictlyVC sponsor) has helped the likes of Dave.comPoint, EarnUp, Nova Credit and more to scale their products and navigate the complicated side of fintech. Apply now!



Caterina Fake on Turning Down VC Role a Decade Ago: “I Just Kind of Didn’t Fit In”


Ten years ago, not long after Yahoo had acquired Flickr,  its cofounder, Caterina Fake, bounded up and down Sand Hill Road taking meetings with venture firms that were interested in hiring her. She knew most of them. In fact, she already knew a lot of investors at that point. Flickr was created out of a photo-sharing feature for another product that Fake and cofounder Stewart Butterfield had been working on that she calls “an abysmal failure.” And “when you have a failed pitch,” says Fake, “you meet many more venture capitalists than you really want to.”


When Flickr was acquired — as Fake told an audience of founders and investors at a StrictlyVC event earlier this week —  “I figured I’d have a sniff around and see, Is this my world? Would I like it? Is venture for me? I never really considered this as a career opportunity.” The answer became apparent pretty quickly. “I’d go in and it was like, ‘One of these things is not like the other.’ I’d look around at all of these dudes and I was like, ‘I don’t know if this is for me. I’m feeling like this is not my place. . .  I don’t dress like ya’ll. I have an English degree.’ I just kind of didn’t fit in.”


It’s because “everything has changed since then — everything,” she says, that Fake, who has cofounded four companies altogether, is now jumping into the venture game full time. As we reported in January, after years of investing as an individual —  including in Etsy  (whose board she chaired for many years), Kickstarter, and Coursera  — Fake and partner Jyri Engeström are currently raising up to $50 million from institutions and family offices, including that of Nokia’s chairman Risto Siilasmaa.


She has largely been inspired by the growing numbers of women in both entrepreneurship and venture capital, suggested Fake. But her interest in turning pro, so to speak, seems even more rooted in the faith that Fake has in her own instincts. It paid off with Etsy, for example, which she recognized early as part of a burgeoning social movement toward craftsmanship and away from big-box retail, whereas “people in the Valley” that she introduced to the deal “were like, ‘So this is a bunch of people knitting and selling scarves?’”


Right now, Fake said she sees an opportunity to get in front of the next parade.


More here.


New Fundings


Astranis, a nearly three-year-old, San Francisco-based company that’s building wine-cooler-size satellites that are capable of delivering broadband internet services around the globe, has raised $13.5 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. Other participants in the round include Y CombinatorRefactor CapitalIndicator Fund, and Fifty Years. Forbes has more here.


Blueprint Income, a four-year-old, New York-based fintech startup that’s building a way for consumers to more easily buy what has notoriously been a hard sell — annuity contracts, has raised $2.75 million in seed funding co-led by NextView Ventures and Green Visor Capital. Other participants in the deal include the Center for Financial Services Innovation FinLabCore Innovation Capital,Kairos VenturesJean Chatzky, and Plug ’n PlayMore here.


Bugcrowd, a 5.5-year-old, San Francisco-based bug bounty platform, has raised $26 million in Series C funding led by Triangle Peak Partners. Other investors in the round include HostplusFirst State Super and earlier backers Blackbird VenturesCostanoa VenturesIndustry VenturesPaladin Capital Group,Rally VenturesSalesforce Ventures and Stanford. TechCrunch has more here.


Coalition, a year-old, San Francisco-based cyber insurance startup, has raised $10 million in Series A funding, including from Vy CapitalRibbit CapitalValor Equity Partners, and Y Combinator’s Sam AltmanMore here.


Cota, a New York City-based oncology-focused startup that relies on real-world evidence to deliver precision medicine, has closed on $40 million in Series C funding led by IQVIA. Other participants included EW Healthcare PartnersMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterBoston Millennia PartnersHorizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New JerseyHackensack Meridian Health and Atoc Holdings. MedCity News has more here.


Credy, a year-old, Bengaluru, India-based online lending platform that graduated from Y Combinator’s winter class last year, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding from YCKhosla VenturesVy Capital and numerous individual investors. Inc. 42 has more here.


Helix, a three-year-old, San Carlos, Ca.-based startup focused on personal genomics, has raised $200 million in Series B financing led by DFJ Growth, with participation from other investors that include IlluminaKleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersMayo ClinicSutter Hill Ventures and Warburg PincusMore here.



Hi Guides, a three-year-old, China-based ride-hailing and tour-guide company, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by Sequoia Capital China, with participation from Concord Investments and Matrix Partners China. China Money Network has more here.


Perfect Day, a four-year-old, Berkeley, Ca.-based animal-free dairy, has raised $24.7 million in new funding led by Temasek, with participation from Continental GrainIconiq CapitalHorizons VenturesLion Ventures and Verus International. Forbes has more here.

Rubius Therapeutics, a four-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based biotech that’s trying to turn our own red blood cells into new medicines, has raised $100 million in new funding from unnamed mutual funds and institutional investors. The company had raised $120 million last summer, with only Flagship Pioneering — which incubated the company —  as its only disclosed investor. Business Insider has more here.


Smartcar, a 4.5-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based under-the-radar connected car platform, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz, which had previously given the company $2 million in seed funding. VentureBeat has more here.


TCGplayer, a 19-year-old, Syracuse, N.Y.-based online marketplace for collectible gaming items (rare Pokemon and Magic cards, etc.), has raised $10 million from Radian CapitalMore here.


Virtualitics, a 1.5-year-old Pasadena, Ca.-based company that’s developing data visualization and analytics tools for AR/VR developers, has raised $7 million in Series B funding led by Centricus, with participation from earlier investor The VR Fund. TechCrunch has more here.


Woebot Labs, a year-old, San Francisco-based startup whose chatbot who helps monitor moods, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from the AI FundMore here.


Zomato, a 10-year-old, Gurgaon, India-based food delivery company, has raised $150 million from Alibaba at a valuation north of $1 billion. Your Story has more here.





German carmaker Daimler has been steadily investing in a stream of new transportation services as it positions itself for the next generation of car ownership and travel, reports TechCrunch. Today, it consolidated its position in one of those business, paying €70 million ($85 million) to buy the remaining 25 percent of car-sharing company car2Go that it didn’t already own. The deal values car2Go at €280 million ($342.5 million). More here.


LittleThings, a 4.5-year-old, New York-based digital publisher focused on inspirational and how-to content for women, shut down yesterday, a move it traces to an algorithm change at Facebook. The startup had raised an undisclosed amount of debt funding from City National Bank. TechCrunch has more here.


Venture-backed has acquired for undisclosed terms a Chicago-based company called SIM Partners that specializes in location marketing technology. SIM Partners’s backers included River Cities Capital Funds and Jump Capital. Reputation, which tries to track and improve online reviews, social media and more for its clients, is backed by Bessemer Venture Partners, August Capital, and Icon Ventures, among others. More here.




China wants one of its biggest tech unicorns to go public at home, says the WSJ. Authorities have reportedly asked smartphone maker Xiaomi, which is already planning a Hong Kong IPO, to list its shares on the mainland, too. More here.




With some smartphone models pushing $1,000, people aren’t upgrading their phones nearly as quickly as they once did. “Smartphones now resemble the car industry very closely,” a spokesman for B-Stock Solutions, the world’s largest platform for trade-in and overstock phones, tells the WSJ. “I still want to drive a Mercedes, but I’ll wait a couple of years to buy the older model. Same mentality.”



Essential Reads


The SEC “has issued dozens of subpoenas and information requests to technology companies and advisers involved in the red-hot market for cryptocurrencies,”reports the WSJ. Digital tokens are rising in price anyway.


Uber just launched a new business line called Uber Health to provide ride-hailing services specifically to healthcare providers wanting to more easily assign rides for their patients and clients from a centralized dashboard, whether or not these rider have the Uber app or even a smartphone, says TechCrunch.


Morale at Snap isn’t so great, reports Bloomberg.




Cable TV at its finest.


How you wind up with a $1,635.93 Uber fare.


What the world’s largest family tree tells us about marriage and death in the West.


Retail Therapy


Porsche 911s. (Skiers not included.)


StrictlyVC: February 28, 2018

Last night was so fun! We loved seeing everyone who came (nice landscape shothere). Thanks again to our fantastic guest speakers Marten Mickos, Ryan Williams, Caterina Fake, Tina Sharkey, Vlad Tenev, Medha Agarwal and Kate Conger. Thanks to our brilliant volunteers from UC Berkeley: Sahar Afrakhan, Sahar Yousef, and Davey Bloom. Thanks to very generous staff at NEA who helped make the night possible, and thank you, Morrison Foerster and Anduin, for your much-appreciated support as sponsors.


We’re still playing catch-up but we’ll have coverage and photos for you soon. In the meantime, because we usually run out of StrictlyVC T-shirts at these things, we doubled the order and have about 20 sitting in a box at our feet. If you’d like one, let us know and we’ll ship it your way. (U.S. readers only please, unless you don’t mind paying for international shipping, in which case, we’re happy to send you a shirt, too.) First come, first served; just write us back at this address.:)



Top News


Amazon is buying the Santa Monica, Ca.-based smart doorbell company Ring for more than $1 billion in its continuing effort to make inroads into our homes. Here’s more on the deal and what motivated it. Meanwhile, here’s who is “ringing” the register this morning, thanks to the tie-up. (Had to.)


Grail, a two-year-old Menlo Park, Ca-based cancer detection startup that’s very well-funded and competing against a number of other, similarly well-funded rivals, may seek an IPO of up to $500 million in Hong Kong, says Bloomberg. The outlet observes that Grail could become one of the first companies to benefit from proposed new listing rules aimed at attracting early stage biotechnology firms to the Hong Kong bourse.


Music streaming service Spotify is going public, and it just revealed its S-1. Here’s much more about what it tells us.



Sponsored By . . .


Fintech startups, how does $250K sound? What about unparalleled access to the banking, financial services, and nonprofit areas where your customers are? Yes? Then be sure to apply for the next class of the Financial Solutions Lab. This highly influential virtual accelerator has helped the likes of Digit, Even, EarnUp, Nova Credit and more to scale their products and navigate the complicated side of fintech. Apply now (or before April 11, 2018).


Triplebyte Just Raised $10 Million for its “Background Blind” Tech Recruiting Platform


Triplebyte is a three-year-old, 25-person, San Francisco-based hiring platform that says it makes recruiting and technical screening for tech companies more efficient. It’s hardly alone in making this claim, of course. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a tech recruiting platform that claims to improve on the ways that companies identify and recruit talented engineers. Still, Triplebyte  makes a persuasive case for why hiring companies should give it a shot.


One of its biggest differentiators, it says, is that its process is “background blind,” meaning it’s ostensibly able to get engineers in front of companies that might not otherwise be interested in them based on their past employers or education. How? By operating like an applied research company, insists cofounder and CEO Harj Taggar — who, before launching Triplebyte, spent the previous five years as a partner with Y Combinator.


Triplebyte’s first steps involved extensively interviewing engineers in the YC alumni network, capturing every data point possible before applying machine learning to better understand both automated assessment tests and human technical reviews (which typically involve an engineer interviewing an engineering candidate).


Because it was limited to Y Combinator companies, that data set was fairly small to start, but it was enough to create an adaptive multiple-choice automated assessment test that began producing results. Over time, companies that aren’t affiliated with YC — including Apple, Stripe, Dropbox and Instacart — began trying out Triplebyte for their hiring needs.


Triplebyte smartly used the development to entice a broader pool of engineers to the platform, which broadened the data points it was collecting, making the platform smarter still. Now,  Taggar says, the company’s automated assessment test is so good that Triplebyte makes companies agree that the Triplebyte candidates with whom they engage will be fast-tracked through the application process and not given further phone screens or coding challenges.


It’s a bold demand and one that could presumably backfire on Triplebyte should it rack up enough unhappy customers.


More here.


New Fundings


Aurora, the nearly two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based self-driving startup cofounded by Chris Urmson (formerly the chief technology officer of Alphabet’s self-driving arm), has raised a whopping $90 million in Series A funding co-led by Greylock Partners and Index Ventures. Indeed, Urmson tells TechCrunch the most crucial part of the deal are the two, high-profile new board members now joining Aurora’s board: Greylock’s Reid Hoffman, who formerly foundedLinkedIn, and Index’s Mike Volpi, who previously ran Cisco’s routing business. More here.


ByteCubed, a 7.5-year-old, Arlington, Va.-based tech consultancy for commercial and federal government customers, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Enlightenment CapitalMore here.

Collective Health, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based developer of a workforce health management system, has raised $110 million in new funding from Sun Life FinancialMubadala Ventures and earlier investors NEAFounders FundGV and Maverick Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


Edgybees, a nearly two-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based startup whose technology enables augmented reality on high-speed platforms like drones and cars, has raised $5.5 million in seed funding, including from Motorola Solutions Venture CapitalVerizon Ventures8VCNFXAspect Ventures and Israeli crowdfunding platform OurCrowd. TechCrunch has more here.


Eko Devices, a 4.5-year-old, Berkeley, Ca.-based maker of an “intelligent” digital stethoscope that was cleared by the FDA nine months ago, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Artis Ventures, with participation from Strategic PartnersDreamlt Ventures1812 Ventures and Founder.orgMore here.


Gaana, a Noida, India-based music streaming app, has raised $115 million from Tencent and controlling shareholder Times Internet. (Tencent also backed India-based Flipkart and Ola last year.) Bloomberg has more here.


Inscripta, a three-year-old, Boulder, Colo.-based gene editing technology company, has raised $55.5 million in Series C funding co-led by Mérieux Développement and Paladin Capital Group. The Denver Post has more here on the company, which raised $23 million in Series B funding just last year.


Mist, a nearly four-year-old, Cupertino, Ca-based startup that’s designing self-learning wireless networks, has raised $46 million in Series C funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Other participants in the round include Lightspeed Venture PartnersNorwest Venture PartnersGVNTT DOCOMO Ventures and Dimension Data. SiliconAngle has more here.


Nomad Health, a three-year-old, New York-based online marketplace for healthcare jobs, has raised $12 million in Series B funding led by Polaris Partners, with participation from First Round CapitalRRE Ventures and .406 VenturesMore here.


Quentis Therapeutics, a two-year-old, New York-based biotech company that focuses on treating cancer patients, has raised $48 million in Series A funding, including from Versant VenturesPolaris PartnersAbbVie VenturesTaiho PharmaceuticalYonghua CapitalAlexandria Venture Investments and New York Ventures, the investment arm of Empire State Development. More here.


Viela Bio, a new Gaithersburg, Md.-based AstraZeneca spin-out that’s focused on inflammation and autoimmune diseases, has raised $250 million in Series A funding from Boyu Capital6 Dimensions CapitalHillhouse CapitalTemasek and Sirona Capital. FierceBiotech has more here.



New Funds


Heuristic Capital, a 1.5-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based early-stage, hardware-focused venture firm, has raised $34 million for its debut fund, shows an SEC filing.


Kindred Capital, a new European-focused venture capital firm, has closed one of Europe’s largest-ever seed funds with £80 million ($110 million). Kindred is also operating what it’s calling an “equitable venture” model, in which every entrepreneur in its portfolio will also receive a stake in the fund. (It’s the same model or very similar to that employed in the U.S. by the venture firm Upside Partnership, which gives every founding team that it backs a piece of its own carry.) More here.


Sante Ventures, a 12-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based venture firm that invests in early-stage life sciences and healthcare companies, is looking to raise up to $200 million for its third fund, shows an SEC filingMore here.




Chorus, a year-old, San Francisco-based social fitness startup founded by former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, is shutting down. It had raised $9 million in venture funding, including from Index Ventures, where Costolo serves as a mentor. Business Insider talked with Costolo about what went wrong.





iQiyi, a nearly eight-year-old, Netflix-style service in China that was created and is still largely owned (70 percent) by Baidu, has filed for a $1.5 billion IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker IQ. Variety has more here.


NIO, the Shanghai, China-based electric car maker formerly known as NextEv, has hired eight banks, including Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, to work on a planned U.S. stock market listing this year worth up to $2 billion, reports Reuters.





Gun-control activists are demanding that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos do something he has carefully avoided: pick a side in a hot-button political debate


Frances Frei, who was hired to fix what ailed Uber’s broken culture and put its controversial CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick on the right path, is leaving the company, says Recode.


Asif Giga has joined Ericsson Ventures as an investment director. Giga was previously a director with Experian Ventures and, before that, an investor with Singtel.


Lindsey Maule, who became the head of cryptocurrency research at Precursor Ventures back in August, has left to focus full time on Luna Capital, a cryptocurrency-focused hedge fund where her title is CEO and general partner. Before joining Precursor, Maule was a growth strategist at the custom apparel startup Teespring.


Nick Nash is leaving his role as group president of Sea, the Singapore-based games and e-commerce company that went public in the U.S. last year, to start his own startup fund. Sea announced that Nash will exit the company at the end of 2018, giving it plenty of time to transition and find a replacement. TechCrunch has the story here.


Rodolfo Rosini, a U.K.-based serial entrepreneur, is becoming a venture capitalist, having joined the Hong Kong-based AI and machine learning-focused accelerator as a partner, says TechCrunch.



Essential Reads


Google has brought Hangouts Chat, its Slack competitor, out of beta.


Twitter is finally rolling out a “save for later” feature called Bookmarks.


LinkedIn wasn’t built for low-skilled job seekers, so Facebook is barging in.




Everything you never knew about “Sesame Street.”


This real-life Ray Donovan protects spurned lovers in high-profile divorces.


My Own Way,” sung by a teenage Amy Winehouse.


Retail Therapy


Transparent Speaker(s).


StrictlyVC: February 27, 2018

Tuesday! We are *so* excited to see those of you coming tonight to our first event of the year(!). One quick mention: There’s a bit of construction happening on the first floor of NEA’s South Park building. It sounds like things will be tidied up by the time the doors open for the event but you may see papered-over walls and windows. You’re still in the right place. Just head up the stairs.:)


Top News


Amazon is reportedly on track to become a $1 trillion company in 18 months.



Sponsored By . . .


Today, StrictlyVC is sponsored by the Financial Solutions Lab at the Center for Financial Services Innovation, which will unveil its 2018 class of startups at EMERGE in Los Angeles this June. Want to see who they’ll be — and mingle with all kinds of fintech and finserv influencers? Register now for EMERGE and save $150 off current rates with code: STRICTLYVC.



New Fundings


Citadel Defense Company, a two-year-old, San Diego-based drone system developer, has raised $12 million in Series A funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners (alone). More here.


Current, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based startup behind an app-controlled debit card aimed at tweens and teens, has added $1 million in funding to its Series A round. The newest investor is Fifth Third Capital, a direct equity investment subsidiary of Fifth Third Bancorp. The company had previously raised $5 million in Series A funding in October from QED Investors and Cota Capital. TechCrunch has more here.


CyberX, a nearly-five-year-old, Boston-based industrial control system security company, has raised $18 million in Series B funding in a round that brings its total funding to $30 million. Norwest Venture Partners led the financing, with participation from earlier investors Glilot Capital PartnersFlint Capitalff Venture Capital, and OurCrowd. (For what it’s worth, the company’s first check came from UpWest Labs, which we profiled last week.) More here.


Industrious, a five-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company that pitches itself as a premium alternative to WeWork and is aggressively chasing the same business customers, has raised $80 million in Series C funding co-led by Riverwood Capital and Fifth Wall Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


Niche, a four-year-old, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based platform that tries to make choosing a college, K-12 school, or place to live a more transparent process, has raised $6.6 million in Series B funding from Allen & Company and Grit Capital. More here and here.


Peakon, a nearly two-year-old, London- and Copenhagen-based online employee engagement platform, has raised $22 million in funding led by Balderton Capital, with participation from earlier investors EQT VenturesIdinvest Partners, and Sunstone. TechCrunch has more here.


Senti Biosciences, a two-year-old, South San Francisco, Ca.-based startup that says it has pioneered new technology platforms to design synthetic gene circuits for adaptive cell and gene therapies, just raised $53 million in Series A funding. NEAled the deal, and it was joined by 8VCAmgen VenturesPear VenturesLux CapitalMenlo VenturesAllen & CompanyNest.BioOmega Funds,Goodman Capital, and LifeForce Capital. Business Insider has more here.


New Funds


Blossom Capital, a new London-based venture firm cofounded by Ophelia Brown (formerly of LocalGlobe and Index Ventures), is in the process of raising between $75 million and $100 million for its debut fund. The capital will reportedly be used to fund European startups. TechCrunch has more here.




PhishMe, a seven-year-old startup that helps companies train employees to avoid phishing scams, announced today that it has been purchased by private equity firms BlackRock and Pamplona Capital Management for undisclosed terms, though a company spokesperson said the company was valued in the deal at $400 million. TechCrunch tries to parse what that means exactly here.





The job review website Glassdoor could go public in 2018, according to Bloomberg, which says the company is currently interviewing banks to advise on an IPO. Glassdoor has raised more than $200 million in venture capital, with its newest round (in 2016) done at a valuation north of $1 billion. More here.




Pinterest has hired its first COOFrancoise Brougher, who was most recently business lead at Square and, prior to that, VP of SMB global sales and operations at Google.


Trump just named Brad Parscale his campaign manager for 2020. We’d written about an interview with Parscale late last year, where he outlined how Facebook helped Trump win his 2016 campaign.


A look at gun-slinger Masayoshi Son and Softbank’s broader spending spree.


Craig Wright, the self-proclaimed inventor of bitcoin, is accused of swindling more than $5 billion worth of the cryptocurrency and other assets from the estate of a computer-security expert.




Here’s who owns everything in “big media” right now. (Graph.)


Google’s Bay Area real estate empire is reportedly equivalent to 14 Salesforce towers.




Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce giant, is looking to add an investment associate to its corporate development team. The job is in San Mateo, Ca.


Essential Reads


Speaking of Rakuten, it’s planning a new cryptocurrency called Rakuten Coin — built on blockchain technology and the company’s existing loyalty program, Rakuten Super Points — that it plans to use to encourage loyalty services globally and to help customers to buy goods across different Rakuten services and markets. TechCrunch has more here.


Earlier this month, Amazon began offering one- and two-hour Whole Foodsdeliveries through its Prime Now service. Now, Walmart fighting back. Its membership warehouse club, Sam’s Club, announced today a partnership with Instacart that allows shoppers to order groceries and other household goods for same-day delivery. More here.


Veteran Wall Street enforcers are landing new roles on a wild frontier: virtual currencies.





The afterlife of Pablo Escobar.


Barbra Streisand cloned her dog. Twice.


Twelve ways to kill your upstairs neighbors with their own bongos.


Retail Therapy


Ours, too.