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StrictlyVC: October 20, 2017

Hi, happy Friday, everyone.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Chariot, the commuter shuttle bus network that Ford Smart Mobility acquired in 2016, has halted its increasingly ubiquitous services in San Francisco. The California Public Utilities Commission has suspended its operating permit after it failed three consecutive California Highway Patrol inspections.

Fair.com, an all-digital car marketplace that was co-founded by car industry vets and has been operating under the radar, is roaring into the open today, revealing it has raised upwards of $1 billion — and not from Softbank, for a change. Investors instead include BMW’s iVenturesPenske Automotive Group, and others. More here.

Nearly two dozen major companies in tech and other industries are planning to launch a coalition to demand legislation that would allow young, illegal immigrants a path to permanent residency. Reuters has more here.

Sponsored By . . .

Treble was founded on the premise that PR is directly connected to exits. And with six exits to-date including StackEngine (acquired by Oracle), Boxer (acquired by VMware) and Joyride (acquired by Google), Treble wins as an immersive partner for VC firms across the spectrum of your portfolio investments. For startups, we align early and scale to drive brand differentiation, strategic partnerships and revenue. Click here to elevate your PR game.

Madison Reed Raises $25M to Open “Color Bars” Across the U.S.

You get to a certain age, and if you’re remotely vain (and let’s face it, you are), you need to have your hair colored fairly frequently. You’re hardly alone. Roughly 75 percent of women in the United States color their hair, which today adds up to an $18 billion opportunity for brands like L’Oréal and Clairol.

It used to look that way, anyway. Eating into a growing percentage of these giants’ market share is Madison Reed, a four-year-old, 85-person, San Francisco-based maker of affordable “prestige” hair products. These include 45 shades of permanent hair color, 8 shades of hair “gloss,” 6 shades of liquid-based root touch-up (for in between coloring sessions), and 6 shades of powder for root touch-ups. The company also more recently began making shampoos and conditioners for color-treated hair.

Now Madison Reed is working on what could become its biggest product of all: a chain of real-world “color bars” that it expects will accelerate its business further. Toward that end, the company just raised $25 million in new funding led by Comcast Ventures, an earlier investor, with participation from other previous backers, including Norwest Venture Partners, True Ventures and Calibrate Ventures.

Yesterday, we phoned CEO and founder Amy Errett in Hawaii, where she’s attending the high-wattage, low-flying Lobby conference. We asked her about the company’s newest round of funding, its color bars, and much more. If you care about consumer packaged goods more generally, keep reading.

You’ve quietly closed on $25 million that brings your funding to $70 million. Why go with Comcast, which is already an investor?<

Comcast was a very small shareholder previously and they just kind of watched our progress. Also, for us, Comcast adds enormous value; our investors there have been super helpful with TV and connections into other media.

How much are you spending on TV? And how else are you marketing Madison Reed?

We spend money on marketing four ways. First, Facebook and Instagram continues to be great for us and we work hard at [cultivating our image on both]. Radio is the fastest-growing channel, including satellite, local, and more recently national. We measure ROI by asking people how they’ve heard of us and through promo codes. The third is TV, which has been super effective. Fourth are referrals, which is an important part of our business. We put referral cards in boxes, and a lot of people give them out to friends who then get their first box for free. We’ve been doing it long enough to measure that it’s not just that first box (that they use).

What percentage of your business is recurring, and are people buying one-offs or subscriptions?

More here.

New Fundings

Amenity Analytics, a two-year-old, New York-based text analytics platform startup, raised $7.6 million in Series A funding. Investors include Intel Capital and State of Mind VenturesMore here.

Constructor.io, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based SaaS company providing search services to sites to help them learn from their users and boost conversion rates, has raised $5 million in Series A funding. Zetta Venture Partners led the round, with participation from Signia Venture PartnersMore here.<

Contrast Security, a three-year-old, Los Altos, Ca.-based company whose security technology enables software applications to protect themselves against cyberattacks, has raised $30 million in Series C funding. Battery Ventures led the round; earlier backers Acero Capital and General Catalyst also participated. Technical.ly Baltimore has more here.

Horizon Robotics, a two-year-old, Beijing, China-based maker of robotics chips, is raising up to $100 million in new funding, including from Intel CapitalHarvest InvestmentsHillhouse CapitalWu CapitalLinear Ventures and Morningside Venture Capital. DealStreetAsia has more here.

SafeTraces, a two-year-old, Pleasanton, Ca.-based company that makes edible, invisible, odorless, tasteless, FDA-approved barcodes in order to trace the travels of fresh or processed foods, pharmaceuticals, and other commodities, has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding. Omidyar Network led the round and was joined by UL VenturesS2G VenturesMaumee VenturesCity Light Capital and Tuscan ManagementMore here.

Spoke, a San Francisco-based internal request management platform, has raised $28 million in funding from Accel Partners and Greylock Partners. CNBC has more here.

IPOs

Stitch Fix, the mail-order clothing service, has filed to go public. The numbers look good. The IPO will be the first test of investor reception to the newest breed of online shopping companies.

WatchGuard Video, a 15-year-old, Allen, Tex.-based manufacturer of law enforcement video systems (it says it supplies in-car and body worn cameras, along with evidence management software, to nearly one-third of all law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Canada) has filed to go public. The plan is raise $75 million and trade on Nasdaq. More here.

Exits

Quest Diagnostics is acquiring Cleveland HeartLab, a Cleveland, Oh.-based diagnostic services company, from investors that include the Cleveland Clinic. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed.

People

Prominent Stanford leader and donor John Freidenrich, an alumnus who was involved with the university for more than 40 years, died last week at Stanford Hospital. He was 80. More here.

Uber’s U.S. chief Rachel Holt said at a conference hosted today by The Information that “mistakes” have been made at the company, but the business is “sound.”

Rebecca Kaden has announced that she’s leaving Maveron to join Union Square Ventures as a general partner on its investment team. She’ll be the first female partner at USV. TechCrunch has more here.

Ben Metcalfe has joined San Francisco-based Ridge Ventures (f.k.a. IDG Ventures USA) as a principal. Metcalfe was most recently a senior product manager at Uber and before that, had cofounded the managed hosting platform company WP Engine. TechCrunch has more here.

Snap has been hit with more layoffs as management evaluates trimming headcount across different teams, reports Business Insider.

Lockhart Steele, Vox Media’s Editorial Director and former Curbed CEO and founder, has been fired for “engaging in conduct that is inconsistent” with the company’s “core values.” More here.

Jobs

Nationwide’s year-old corporate venture capital unit, Nationwide Ventures, is looking to hire an in-office consultant to screen potential investments in financial and insurance startups. The job is in Columbus, Oh.

Essential Reads

Designer-founder Tony Fadell gets a big wet kiss from Wired. (Despite being sycophantic, it’s a fun read.)

CoinList, a provider of financial services for staging and managing initial coin offerings (ICOs), is spinning out of AngelList as a standalone company that will be led by former Sidewire CEO Andy Bromberg, it tells Axios.

You can now PayPal friends in Messenger.

Detours

Art can be an investment. But is it a good one?

Why the current best treatment for sleeplessness is psychological (not pharmacological).

Retail Therapy

Kidrobot bookends.




StrictlyVC: October 19, 2017

And it is Thursday! Hi, everyone.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Ride-hailing company Lyft has raised a new $1 billion funding round, putting its post-money valuation at $11 billion. The financing was led by Alphabet’s CapitalG, its growth-focused investment fund, with CapitalG partner David Lawee joining Lyft’s board as part of the transaction. More here.

Assa Abloy, the $23 billion Swedish lock giant that owns Yale and many other brands, announced this morning that it’s buying smart lock maker August Home to double down on new technology. Terms aren’t being disclosed, but August had raised $73 million from a whole lot of investors, including Cowboy VenturesMaveron, and Bessemer Venture PartnersMore here.

Sponsored By . . .

Treble was founded on the premise that PR is directly connected to exits. And with six exits to-date including StackEngine (acquired by Oracle), Boxer (acquired by VMware) and Joyride (acquired by Google), Treble wins as an immersive partner for VC firms across the spectrum of your portfolio investments. For startups, we align early and scale to drive brand differentiation, strategic partnerships and revenue. Click here to elevate your PR game.

Tony Fadell’s Newest Product? An Investment Firm Called Future Shape

Tony Fadell is starting yet a new chapter.

Fifteen months after leaving Nest Labs, a maker of digital thermostats and smoke detectors that Fadell cofounded and sold to Google for $3.2 billion in 2014, Fadell is taking the wraps off a new investment and advisory firm that’s working with engineers and scientists called Future Shape.

The firm’s site, which appears to have gone live very recently, explains that Future Shape is not relying on outside investors for its capital. It also states that the idea is to provide “seed funding, and sometimes A” to companies no matter where they are.

In fact, it says its portfolio is already based mainly in Europe, as well as the U.S., and that it has some “great companies in Asia and the Middle East, too.”

Fadell, who is living at least part time in Paris, has already funded more than 100 companies over the years, including Rohinni,  a four-year-old, Idaho-based startup that makes LED Lighting products andreportedly pitched Fadell while he was still managing Nest. Others of his investments include CashShield, a nine-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based online fraud risk management company, and Turvo, a three-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based logistics management startup.

Future Shape appears to be a way for Fadell to create more structure around these bets.

More here.

New Fundings

Coda, a 3.5-year-old, Bay Area-based startup whose next-generation spreadsheets aim to make Excel a thing of the past, has quietly raised $60 million across two rounds of fundraising. Its investors include Greylock PartnersGeneral CatalystKhosla VenturesNew Enterprise Associates, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers. The Verge has more here.

Feather, a 10-month-old, New York-based company aiming to rent modern furniture to millennials from 3 to 12 months to accommodate their itinerant lifestyles, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding from Kleiner PerkinsBain Capital VenturesSV Angel and others. TechCrunch has more here.

Forty Seven, a 1.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based immuno-oncology startup, has raised $75 million in new funding led by Wellington Management, with participation from earlier investors Clarus,Lightspeed Venture PartnersSutter Hill Ventures and GV. The company has now raised $150 million altogether. FierceBiotech hasmore here.

GuiaBolso, a five-year-old, Sao Paulo, Brazil-based personal finance management platform, has raised $39 million in funding led byVostok Emerging Finance, with participation from Ribbit Capital,IFCQED InvestorsEndeavor Catalyst and Omidyar Network. TechCrunch has more here.

Hiya, a 1.5-year-old, Seattle-based company that aims to provide customers with important context about the people they are calling (and from whom they receive calls), has raised $18 million in Series A funding led by Balderton, with participation from Nautilus Venture Partners and Lumia Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Meituan-Dianping, a seven-year-old, Beijing, China-based provider of a wide array of on-demand services, has raised a whopping $4 billion in new funding at an even more stunning $30 billion valuation. Earlier backer Tencent led the round and was joined by Sequoia CapitalGIC and Tiger Global. Tech in Asia has more here.<

Mya Systems, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based developer of an AI-recruiter, has raised $18 million in Series B funding led byFoundation Capital, with participation from Emergence Capital, among other investors. More here.

Movinga, a two-year-old, Berlin-based online relocation service company, has raised €22 million ($26 million) by Santo Venture Capital, the venture arm of the Strüngmann family office, with participation from earlier backers Earlybird Venture Capital andRocket Internet. The capital will be called over two tranches, reports TechCrunch. More here.

PayKey, a two-year-old, Tel Aviv-based company whose smartphone keyboard lets bank customers access financial services without having to log onto a banking app, has raised $10 million in Series B funding. MizMaa led the round, with participation from other investors that include SBI GroupSiam Commercial Bank’s financial tech subsidiary Digital Ventures, SixThirty and FinTech71. The company has now raised $16 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

Guardian Media Group is planning to launch a new, independent £42 million ($55 million) venture capital fund called GMG Ventures. The idea is to support the development of GMG’s core news business by funding early-stage startups focused on developing the next generation of media technology.  The Guardian has more here.

Plenty of investors have broken their picks, trying to find gold in education technology. That doesn’t seem to concern the limited partners of Owl Ventures, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based venture firm that’s focused only on edtech, and which just closed on $185 million — nearly twice the $100 million it raised for its debut fund in 2014. TechCrunch has more here.

SparkChain Capital is a new outfit that’s planning to raise $100 million in an ICO so it can invest in blockchain and cryptocurrency-related companies. (Expect to see a lot more of these, for good or bad.) More here.

IPOs

MongoDB made its public debut with a bang, jumping more than 25 percent today after spending the past several days revising expectations upward. TechCrunch has more here.

SendGrid, the eight-year-old, Denver-based email marketing platform (that happens to power StrictlyVC), has filed for a $100 million IPO. The company, which reported a $3 million net loss on $38 million in revenue for the first half of this year, has raised more than $80 million from VCs, including Foundry GroupBessemer Venture PartnersHighway 12 Ventures, and Bain Capital Ventures, each of which have sizable pre-IPO stakes in the bidness. The Denver Post has more here.

Exits

Atlas Informatics, a 1.5-year-old, Seattle-based encrypted personal search engine whose tool helps users quickly locate information within files, emails, and other sources, is somewhat abruptly shutting down for undisclosed reasons. It had raised more than $20 million in funding from investors, including Microsoft Ventures and Aspect Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Cisco said today that it’s acquiring Perspica, a machine learning-driven operations analytics firm that has raised $8.5 million. Terms aren’t being disclosed, but Cisco intends to fold Perspica’s team intoAppDynamics, the company it purchased earlier this year for $3.7 billion. TechCrunch has more here.

Hearst is buying publisher Rodale, the family-owned publisher of magazines like Women’s Health, Men’s Health and Prevention. The deal is priced at roughly one times revenue — which is roughly $225 million these days (down from $600 million in 2008). The WSJ has more here.

Jinn, a London-based startup that offers a same-hour “shop on your behalf” delivery app that operates similarly to Postmates in the U.S., has shut down. TechCrunch has more here.

People

Meal-kit seller Blue Apron said yesterday that it’s laying off 6 percent of its staff as part of “a company-wide realignment of personnel to support its strategic priorities.” The company went public four months ago. TechCrunch has more here.

As far as Jeff Bezos is concerned (apparently), there are some things you’ve just gotta do yourself.

Comcast Ventures has named Gil Beyda as a managing director and promoted Daniel Gulati to partner. Beyda previously founded a seed venture fund called Genacast Ventures. Gulati, who joined Comcast Ventures in 2014, was previously an analyst with Boston Consulting Group.

Benjamin Erhart has joined Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners as a partner. Previously, Erhart was an investment director at High-Tech Gruenderfonds, a seed fund in Europe.

Tom Willerer, who has spent the last four years with the online education company Coursera — the last two as its chief product officer — is joining the venture firm Venrock to seek out consumer deals. More here.

Jobs

Trident Capital Cybersecurity, a sector-focused, early-stage venture capital firm, is looking to hire an associate. The job is in San Mateo, Ca.

Essential Reads

Everyone’s mad at Google, and Sundar Pichai has to fix it.

Detours

From assistants to executives, at the Weinstein Co., everyone is playing the grim Hollywood parlor game of who knew what, and when.

Retail Therapy

Tiny shipping container house. (If you’d otherwise be living in someone’s backyard in Palo Alto right now, this doesn’t look so terrible.)




StrictlyVC: October 18, 2017

Wednesday!

Top News in the A.M.

SoftBank has been making waves in Silicon Valley since announcing its Vision Fund earlier this year. Now, one of SoftBank’s besties — the sovereign wealth fund of the United Arab Emirates, called the Mubadala Investment Company — is also making a splashy debut onto the scene. TechCrunch has more here.

Facebook and Google helped an anti-refugee campaign in swing states, reports Bloomberg.

Sponsored By . . .

Treble was founded on the premise that PR is directly connected to exits. And with six exits to-date including StackEngine (acquired by Oracle), Boxer (acquired by VMware) and Joyride (acquired by Google), Treble wins as an immersive partner for VC firms across the spectrum of your portfolio investments. For startups, we align early and scale to drive brand differentiation, strategic partnerships and revenue. Click here to elevate your PR game.

How More Than 3,000 Tech Workers Are Trying to Turn the Political Tables

There have always been outliers, people in tech who are willing to volunteer to help certain candidates. An even smaller percentage of techies quit their jobs to join campaigns. Still, it’s probably safe to say that most tech employees, who are also U.S. citizens, have long viewed the extent of their obligation as Americans to vote for their preferred candidate — then get back to work.

The surprising rise of Donald Trump has changed that stance in largely liberal Silicon Valley. In fact, more than 3,000 skilled tech workers have now signed on to help a nonprofit called Tech for Campaigns that injects tech talent into the campaigns of centrist and liberal candidates who need advice and tools to better make use of Facebook and Twitter, craft individualized emails for segmented voters, and much more.

More people are signing up to help every day, too, particularly now that the low-flying organization is raising its profile a bit to further that momentum.

It has been writing explainers, for example, including this one in Quartz, on the importance of focusing on so-called down-ballot (non-presidential) state races. Tech for Campaigns also recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $250,000 to hire additional full-time employees who can help its three cofounders — entrepreneurs Jessica Alter, Pete Kazanjy and Ian Ferguson — run the organization. (It has 23 days remaining to reach its goal.)

We talked recently with Alter about that campaign, as well as to get a better understanding of the specific candidates Tech for Campaigns is aiming to help, as well as how. Our chat, following, has been edited for length.

You’d previously started a founder dating company that was sold. How did you end up starting this nonprofit?

Peter and I and our other cofounder, Ian, are all tech founders, and the election last year woke us up. After the inauguration, there was one alarming executive order after another. I like posting on social media, but saying, “I can’t take this anymore” wasn’t helping, and we were seeing the same from many people we know who wanted to do more but weren’t sure how.

“60 Minutes” recently aired a segment with Trump’s digital head, who said Facebook employees embedded themselves with the campaign, trying to provide it expert help. He also said the Clinton campaign was offered some of the same help and declined it. Is your organization trying to get the job done for Democrats that they aren’t getting done themselves?

We’re not saying that tech is coming in to save politics.

More here.

New Fundings

Bespoke Post, a six-year-old, New York-based lifestyle subscription club for men that sends themed boxes to its customers each month, has raised $6 million in Series A funding, including from Walden Venture CapitalScout Ventures, and Kiwi Partners. The company has raised $8 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Bluevine, a four-year-old, Redwood City Ca.-based fintech company that provides online loans to small and medium-size companies, has raised $130 million in debt funding from Silicon Valley Bank,SunTrust BankBank Leumi and TriplePoint Venture Growth BDC Corp. Globes has more here.

BuddyGuard, a three-year-old, Berlin, Gernany-based startup that makes an AI-powered home security camera, has raised €3.4 million ($4 million) in funding led by Bachmann Group. TechCrunch hasmore here.

Cydan, a four-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based orphan drug accelerator, has raised $34 million in funding from Longitude CapitalNew Enterprise Associates, Pfizer Venture InvestmentsAlexandria Venture Investments andLundbeckfond Ventures. FierceBiotech has more here.

Duo Security, a seven-year-old, Ann Arbor, Mi.-based cyber security company, has raised $70 million in Series D funding, at a valuation of $1.17 billion. Meritech Capital Partners and Lead Edge Capital led the round, which also includes Index Ventures,Workday, and earlier backers Redpoint Ventures and True Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Feedzai, a six-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based startup whose machine learning tools help banks and merchants spot payment fraud, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by an unnamed venture firm, with additional capital from Sapphire Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Fingerlix, a 1.5-year-old, Mumbai, India-based ready-to-cook food brand that makes a range of products, including batters and parathas, is reportedly raising $7 million in Series B funding fromAccel Partners and Zephyr Peacock. The Economic Times hasmore here.

Gemini Therapeutics, a two-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based precision medicine company focused on genetically-defined, dry age-related macular degeneration, has raised $42.5 million in Series A funding. Atlas VentureLightstone Ventures and OrbiMed led the round. FierceBiotech has more here.

Lightspeed, a 12-year-old, Montreal-based point-of-sale system, has raised roughly $166 million in Series D funding led by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, with participation fromInvestissement QuébeciNovia Capital, and Silicon Valley Bank also participated in providing funding. BetaKit has more now.

Magic Leap, the six-year-old, Dania Beach, Fla.-based augmented reality startup (that has yet to release a product but keeps attracting investor capital in the meantime), has officially closed on a $502 milion Series D round led by Temasek. Other participants in the round include EDBIGrupo GloboJanus HendersonAlibaba GroupFidelity Management and others. TechCrunch has more here.

Prenetics, an eight-year-old, Hong Kong-based genetic testing startup, has raised $40 million in Series B funding led by Beyond Ventures and Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund. The round also includes capital from Yuantai Investment Partners,mFund and eGarden Ventures, and brings Prenetics’ total funding to $50 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Revelo, a three-year-old, Brazil-based job recruitment marketplace, has raised $4.6 million in funding led by Valor Capital, with participation from the online Australian recruiting company Seek. TechCrunch has more here.

SelfMade, a two-year-old, New York-based professional photo editing service, has raised $11 million in funding, including fromPrimary Venture Partners, FirstMark CapitalBoxGroup,Founder CollectiveCrunchFundSV Angel and GGV. TechCrunch has more here.

Veo Robotics, a 1.5-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based startup that says it’s building a smarter, more intuitive robotics system for industrial applications, has raised $12 million in funding co-led byLux Capital and GV, with participation from existing investor Next 47, which is a venture firm created by Siemens. VentureBeat has more here.

Torch 3D, a months-old, Portland, Ore.-based augmented and virtual reality prototyping platform, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding co-led by The Venture Reality Fund and Silicon Valley Data Capital. Other investors in the round include Seven Peaks VenturesGVR FundPresence CapitalAntipodean VenturesJerome Capital and TWB Investment Partnership. VentureBeat has more here.

XMOS, 12-year-old, Bristol, U.K.-based outfit that earlier this month became the first European chip company to release a qualified Amazon Alexa Voice Service (AVS) development kit, has raised $15 million in Series E funding led by Infineon Technologies. Earlier backers also joined the round, including Amadeus Capital PartnersDraper EspritFoundation Capital and Robert Bosch Venture CapitalMore here.

Zype, a three-year-old, New York-based cloud video distribution service for OTT that aims to make it easy for content owners to connect directly with audiences on every screen, has raised $4.9 million in Series A funding. Runa Capital led the round; other participants include Revel PartnersPoint Nine CapitalAlpine Meridian Ventures and Entrepreneurs Investment Fund. Newscenter.io has more here.

New Funds

Blockchain Capital, one of the first venture firms to specialize in bitcoin and crypto projects, is setting out to raise $150 million in two funds, with plans to invest in companies and emerging cryptocurrencies. The firm, based in San Francisco, said in SEC filings yesterday that each fund is targeting $75 million. CNBC has more here.

Quantopian, a “crowdsourced” hedge fund backed by Point72’sSteven Cohen and Andreessen Horowitz, has launched its first fund for outside investors that want to tap into its community of data scientists and programmers, shows an SEC filing flagged yesterday by The Financial Times. The Boston-based company provides a platform for computer scientists to try their hand at coding trading algorithms, awarding prizes to and licensing the best strategies. More here.

Airbnb’s former head of data science, Riley Newman, has quietly formed a venture firm with David Rosenthal, formerly of Madrona Venture Group, according to Axios. The outfit is reportedly calledWave Capital and is raising between $35 million and $50 million for its debut fund, which will focus on early-stage marketplace startups.

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Online classes to build your dream career. With more than three million members and more than 17,000 classesSkillshare is basically Netflix for online learning. Learn everything from photography and marketing, to technology, design, and more. The first 500 StrictlyVC readers can try them free for two months for free here.

Exits

One small ad company has acquired another for undisclosed terms.AdHawk, incubated at Techstars Boulder, has acquired Y Combinator-backed Automate Ads. Both offer products for running Facebook and Google ad campaigns, but where AdHawk has focused on providing data to optimize existing campaigns, Automate’s tools help advertisers create those campaigns in the first place. TechCrunch has more here.

Adobe today announced that it has acquired KyleBrush.com, a service that offers digital brushes for Adobe’s Creative Cloud tools, and hired the service’s creator, Kyle Webster. Other financial terms were not disclosed. More here.

Jobs

The early-stage venture firm Libertus Capital is looking to bring aboard an associate. If you speak Mandarin or a European language, all the better. The job can be based in San Francisco, London, or Shanghai.

Essential Reads

Smartphones are killing Americans, but no one is counting.

General Motors’ autonomous vehicle unit, Cruise, is in discussions to launch fully self-driving cars for customers in San Francisco by next year, reports The Information. As readers may recall, GM is also an investor in Uber rival Lyft.

Snap and NBCUniversal are creating a Hollywood studio dedicated to the future of app-centric entertainment, and they’ve already signed their first deal with indie filmmakers, the Duplass brothers.

Detours

David Letterman rips Jimmy Fallon again.

Retail Therapy

Surprise! It’s a speaker.




StrictlyVC: October 16, 2017

Happy Monday!:)

Quick, before we jump into things: if you live in or near San Francisco, do go check out “South of Market, The Musical” before it ends its run next Sunday afternoon. We had a quick cameo in the show yesterday, which was extremely fun (thank you, Sam O’Keefe). More to the point, we realized what we might have missed otherwise — an incredible cast and hilarious writing. Get thee there. You’ll thank us. (A portion of the proceeds goes to the vital Center for Investigative Journalism, another bonus.)

Also, we have to share some nice feedback (largely for marketing purposes, which is not one our strong suits). From one our most recent advertisers, who wrote us this morning: “Checking in now that our 2 weeks with StrictlyVC have ended. For starters, we wanted to first say thanks again for having us. We got plenty of positive feedback from both new and old users who mentioned our spot in your newsletter. More importantly though, our returns have been phenomenal! We’re thrilled with the results and we’d love to immediately start looking ahead to our next sponsorship slot with StrictlyVC. When you can, please let us know what opportunities you have open for the next few months.”  (Very happy to have you back and if you’ve written us recently about advertising and we haven’t responded, we will; we’re just a little behind on all at the moment.)

Top News in the A.M.

Zoinks. A new exploit can allow attackers to read Wi-Fi traffic between devices and wireless access points, and even modify it to inject malware into websites. More here.

Sponsored By . . .

Sporting a senior-laden team with expertise in B2B tech spanning across AI, IoT, big data, SaaS and cybersecurity combined with a growing B2C practice, Treble crushes funding news, reverse engineers our clients into the news cycle, and ideates timely content. Click here to elevate your PR game.

Eric Ries to Big Companies: Turn Every Unit into a Cash-Strapped Startup

All companies are startups until they aren’t. Many struggle to find their way back, too. It’s not the days of constrained resources or terrible pay or the heart-stopping uncertainty that they’re missing, of course. Instead, the problem is that it’s a lot harder to implement change at an “established” organization, particularly one that’s making money. Yet the smartest companies know change is crucial. As journalist Alan Deutschman wrote a dozen years ago, including in a book of the same title: “Change or die.”

Because that’s easier said than done, CEOs are always seeking out new ideas. Enter the brand-new book of engineer and entrepreneur Eric Ries, whose last tome, The Lean Startup, became an instant best-seller when it was first published in 2011.

In his latest effort, The Startup Way, Ries says the way to stay on top can be traced to two things: treating employees like customers, and treating business units like startups — replete with their own constrained budgets, and even their own boards. Ries offers fairly concrete suggestions regarding how to implement both, too. “A lot of people write manifestos and basically say, ‘Do what I say,’” says Ries. “I try to get away from that. The details matter a lot.”

We caught up with Ries on Friday to learn more about the book, which will be available to buy beginning tomorrow.

More here.

New Fundings

Blue Hexagon, a months-old, Bay Area-based startup at work on machine learning-based threat-detection software, including for mobile phones, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led byBenchmark. The company’s cofounders include Nayeem Islam, who spent the previous eight years with chipmaker Qualcomm, where he founded its Silicon Valley-based R&D facility. TechCrunch has more here.

The Chope Group, a six-year-old, Singapore-based restaurant booking platform, has raised $13 million in new funding led bySquare Peg Capital, with participation from C31 VenturesMoelis Australia and earlier investors NSI VenturesSusquehanna International GroupDSG Consumer Partners and Singapore Press Holdings. DealStreetAsia has more here.

Compeon, a five-year-old, Dusseldorf, Germany-based business finance platform, has raised $14 million in Series B funding led byTengelmann VenturesMore here.

Court Buddy, a three-year-old, Miami-based company that matches consumers with solo attorneys for on-demand legal services, raised $1 million in seed funding led by LDR Ventures, with participation from XFactor VenturesGingerBread CapitalLSS Fund,Uphonest CapitalEquipo Ventures, and 500 StartupsMore here.

InflaRx, a 10-year-old, Thuringia, Germany-based drug startup focused on chronic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, has raised $55 million in Series D funding from Bain Capital Life SciencesCormorant Asset Management and RA Capital Management.

JustCo, a two-year-old, Singapore-based co-working space startup, has closed an undisclosed amount of funding from one of Thailand’s largest property developers, Sansiri, reportedly growing its valuation to $200 million in the process. Digital News Asia has more here.

Lefit, a two-year-old, Hangzhou, China-based startup that provides membership-based access to fitness clubs and instructors, has raised $45 million in Series C funding led by Hillhouse Capital. China Money Network has more here.

LimeBike, a nine-month-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based dockless bike sharing company, has raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Coatue Management, with participation from other new and earlier backers, including Andreessen HorowitzDCMGGV CapitalSection 32Yuri MilnerThe Durant Company, and others. TechCrunch has more here.

onQ, a 1.5-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based video technology company, raised $7 million in funding. The investors were not named. More here.

Qtshe.com, a China-based site for students looking to temp, has raised $9.1 million in Series B funding led by Anche Capital, with particpation from the classifieds platform Baixing.com, and Liang Weiping, founder of property listings platform Anjuke, which was acquired by 58.com in 2015. More here.

RenewBuy, a two-year-old, Gurgaon, India-based online insurance aggregator, has raised $9.2 million from Amicus Capital. The Economic Times has more here.

SidelineSwap, a three-year-old, Boston-based online marketplace for sports gear and equipment, has raised $2 million in new seed funding from Global Founders CapitalHaystack PartnersRiverpark VenturesFullstack Sports Ventures and The Players’ ImpactMore here.

New Funds

Venture capital firm Draper Esprit plans to funnel $100 million (£75 million) into European seed funds over the next five years, helping to fill a funding hole exacerbated by Brexit. Business Insider has more here.

Precursor Ventures, a San Francisco-based seed and early-stage venture firm founded by Charles Hudson, looks to be targeting $25 million for its second fund, shows an SEC filing. We talked with Hudson about his young firm earlier this year, when he closed his debut fund with $15.3 million.

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IPOs

Four Seasons Education, a seven-year-old, Shanghai, China-based math education company, filed for an IPO of $120 million. It plans to list on the NYSE. Nasdaq has more here.

A second China-based company also announced plans to go public on the NYSE: Sogou, a Beijing -based company that has grown into China’s third-biggest search engine. It disclosed in a filing that it’s looking to raise $600 million in an offering. Tencent Holdings is among its biggest outside shareholders, with a 43.7 percent stake. Investors Business Daily has more here.

One Madison, a SPAC based out of New York formed to acquire a consumer-facing business, has filed for an IPO of $300 million. One of the outfit’s biggest shareholders is Jonathan Soros of JS Capital Management, which holds a 21 percent pre-IPO stake. Nasdaq hasmore here.

Vincom Retail, a mall operator, today launched Vietnam’s largest-ever initial public offering, in a deal that could be worth up to $680 million. Warburg Pincus and Credit Suisse are among its biggest shareholders. Bloomberg has more here.

Exits

L.A.-based Fandango is acquiring MovieTickets.com, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based site for movie ticketing and news. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.

Publicly traded, Israel-based NICE, which specializes in telephone voice recording, data security, and surveillance, has acquiredWorkflex, a Cincinnati, Oh.-based company that makes workforce engagement software, for undisclosed terms. Workflex had raised  $4.5 million in venture funding, including fro CincyTechMore here.

That was fast. Weinstein Co. has reportedly entered a negotiating period with Thomas Barrack’s Colony Capital for a potential sale of all or a significant portion of the company’s assets. Variety has more here.

People

Renowned tech journalist Walt Mossberg, who recently retired from Recode, is writing a book about people and products that changed the world.

Investor Steve Schlafman has left RRE Ventures after a four-year run, he announced on Twitter late Friday. Schlafman says he plans to remain in venture but to take some time off for now. (We think that’s probably code for, “I’m raising money for my own fund like everyone else right now,” but we’ll see.)

Tesla fired hundreds of workers last week, including engineers, managers and factory workers, even as the company struggles to expand its manufacturing and product line. It said the dismissals were the result of a company-wide annual review, and not layoffs. The SJ Merc has more here.

Jobs

Lyft is looking to add a financial analyst to its corporate development team. The job is in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, Facebook is reportedly looking for employees with national security clearances (if you happen to fall into this camp). Bloomberg has more here.

Essential Reads

Another day, another industry-rattling move by Amazon. This time it’s making a foray into private-labeled sportswear.

Bitcoin’s seemingly unstoppable surge to record highs isn’t deterring competitors. Former Silicon Valley developers are working on at leasttwo new versions of the digital currency.

Richly-funded Docker turned down an opportunity to work with Google. It may regret it, suggests a new report by The Information.

Detours

Woody Allen warned over the weekend that revelations about Harvey Weinstein could lead to a “witch hunt atmosphere.” LOL.

Police in Dubai are getting some crazy-looking hovercrafts.

A penguin that fell in love with a cardboard cutout has died next to it.

Retail Therapy

Nerf’s tennis ball blaster for dogs.

Chairs for paranoid startups.




StrictlyVC: October 13, 2017

Friday! [Breaks stack of wooden slabs with elbow.] Hope you have a terrific weekend, everyone.:)

(No column today. We have a few things cooking but none are done yet.)

Top News in the A.M.

Qualcomm just filed lawsuits in China seeking to ban the sale and manufacture of iPhones in the country, the chipmaker’s biggest shot at Apple so far in a bitter legal fight.

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New Fundings

Beauty Bakerie, a six-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based cosmetics brand, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Unilever Ventures, with participation from 645 Ventures and Blue Consumer CapitalMore here.

CastBox.FM, a 1.5-year-old, Beijing, China-based audio platform that allows users to listen, create, and share their favorite podcast content, has raised $12.8 million in new funding, including from IDG Capital and GSR Ventures. Bloomberg has more here.

Flont, a one-year-old, New York-based online platform that lets users rent fine jewelry via a membership model, has raised $5 million in funding, including from C VenturesMore here.

Groupize, a six-year-old, Boston-based company whose tech helps its customers manage their meetings, has raised $3.25 million in funding led by Thayer Ventures, with participation from Golden SeedsLaunchpad VenturesWayfare VenturesNTX Venture Fund and the Ace FundMore here.

ICX Media, two-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based video data intelligence platform, has raised $6.6 million in Series A funding led by Grotech Ventures, with participation from NRVPoint Judith Capital and Avonlea CapitalMore here.

Meesho, a two-year-old, Bangalore, India-based e-commerce platform that enables small businesses to create an online shop quickly, has raised $3.4 million in Series A funding led by SAIF Partners. Earlier backers, including Venture Highway and Y Combinator, also participated in the round, which brings Meesho’s total funding to $3.7 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Omnyway, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose tech helps retailers stay connected to consumers through their phone during in-store shopping experiences,  has raised $12.75 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Nyca;CommerzVentures, the venture arm of Commerzbank Group of Germany; and CEFIF, the CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund. TechCrunch has more here.

Supersolid, a five-year-old, London-based mobile games maker, has raised $4 million in funding led by Index Ventures. VentureBeat has more here.

Visual Vocal, a two-year-old, Seattle-based immersive productivity platform for team collaboration, has raised $3.6 million in seed funding led by Eniac Ventures, with participation from Scout VenturesSpider Capital, and the Alliance of Angels. GeekWire has more here.

VY Esports, a months-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based matchmaking platform for esports and brands, has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding led by Raine Ventures, with participation from Courtside Ventures and Elysian Park Ventures. VentureBeat has more here.

New Funds

M33 Growth, a Boston-based outfit founded by cofounded by former General Catalyst partner Brian Shortsleeve, has closed on $180 million in capital commitments for the firm’s debut fund, which will invest in growth-stage companies that are generating at least $5 million in revenue. More here.

The 13-year-old, Singapore-based, early-stage venture capital firm Wavemaker Partners, has closed its second Southeast Asia-focused vehicle with $66 million in commitments. Temasek Holdings, World Bank Group’s IFC, as well as prominent companies and family offices from the region have reportedly invested in the vehicle. DealStreetAsia has more here.

People

Hayley Barna reportedly dropped almost $14 million on a Manhattan apartment, says WWD. Her new neighbors include Ben Stiller and Bon Jovi.

Apple CEO Tim Cook seemed to address Google’s August firing of software engineer James Damore  while talking with a room full of students and would-be entrepreneurs in the U.K. yesterday. Asked how Apple encourages employees to challenge each others’ ideas, Cook said, “If you’re in a position where you’re deciding people’s future and you’re deciding in a biased way, you need to leave. But I think we have to allow for disagreement.” More here.

Roy Price, the head of Amazon Studios, has been suspended after disturbing allegations of sexual harassment were leveled at him (again). More here.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg told lawmakers from the Congressional Black Caucus this week that the company will be adding an African-American to its board of directors.

Apple co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak today announced the formation of Woz U, a world-class digital institute to help fill the employment gap for high-paying technology jobs across the U.S. TechCrunch has more here.

Data

Samsung is killing it.

Google‘s biggest acquisitions, dating back to its 2006 decision to acquire Youtube. (Thank you, CB Insights.)

Essential Reads

Facebook just announced a new feature that allows users to order food from local restaurants using its app. It’s partnering with startups like DoorDash for now.

Baidu expects to be in the business of mass producing autonomous cars by 2021, thanks to a partnership with BAIC Group, a Chinese automaker. TechCrunch has more here.

Tech giants, once seen as saviors, are now viewed as threats.

Detours

How norms change.

Reporter Jodi Kantor on breaking the Harvey Weinstein story.

Crying.

Retail Therapy

Qvest, in Cologne.




StrictlyVC: October 12, 2017

Hi, happy Thursday, everyone!

We’re still thinking of everyone just north of us and sending love to the many friends who live there and have either evacuated or may need to shortly. Puerto Rico. Texas. Florida. Now this? We’ll be very happy when this annus horribilis comes to a close.

Top News in the A.M.

Bitcoin recorded a new high this morning, racing past the $5,000 mark.

Mysterious Magic Leap may be raising as much as $1 billion more to fund its vision of a future filled with augmented reality glasses. TechCrunch has more here.

Equifax has pulled one of its customer service webpages, after another possible attack.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said this morning that the company is fully committed to helping U.S. congressional investigators publicly release Russia-backed political ads that ran during the 2016 U.S. election. But she sidestepped repeated questions about what Facebook knew about the extent of Russia’s use of its platform.

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Atomic, a Startup Studio Backed by Thiel and Andreessen, Ups Its Ambitions

Atomic isn’t a household brand, but Peter Thiel and Marc Andreessen know it fairly intimately. The two billionaire investors, along with the venture firm Felicis Ventures, were among the earliest investors in the four-year-old, San Francisco-based startup studio, which closed its debut fund with $20 million.

Now Atomic is looking to raise five times that much capital for its follow-on effort, shows an SEC filing.

The company declined our request for an interview earlier today, but given its traction so far, don’t be surprised if it lands there quickly.

First, what it does: Atomic, which has 15 employees, judging by LinkedIn, essentially comes up with its own ideas for companies, then seeks out individuals who it thinks could steer these companies. After that, it seeks out larger investments from conventional venture capital firms to build them into sustainable businesses.

So far, Atomic — which is headquartered a stone’s throw from Thiel’s firm Founder Fund, in San Francisco’s verdant Presidio national park, and has a sales office in Phoenix and a small engineering campus in Waterloo — has come up with 10 companies, six of which are listed at its website, and at least four of which have raised significant funding, shows Crunchbase.

Among them are the Wi-Fi marketing startup Zenreach, which has now raised $80 million altogether, including from Founders Fund, Formation 8 and others; a consumer photo service called Ever that last month raised $16 million in Series B funding led by Icon Ventures, with participation from Felicis Ventures and Khosla Ventures (it has raised $29 million altogether); and the voice-powered sales startup TalkIQ, which closed on $14 million in Series A funding last month, led by Scale Venture Partners.

Atomic itself writes checks typically of between $200,000 and $2 million.

More here.

New Fundings

250ok, a six-year-old, Indianapolis, In.-based email analytics and deliverability company, has raised $2.6 million in Series A funding led by Arthur Ventures. MediaPost has more here.

Allume, a 1.5-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based on-demand personal shopping service, has raised $3 million in seed funding from True Ventures and unnamed angel investors. VentureBeat has more here.

Appear Here, a four-year-old, London-based online marketplace for short-term retail space, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from the real estate-focused venture firm Fifth Wall VenturesMore here.

CloudZero, a 1.5-year-old, Boston-based site reliability management platform for cloud computing, has raised $5 million in Series A funding co-led by Matrix Partners and Underscore VCMore here.

CoverWallet, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based company that aims to make it easy for small businesses to buy and manage their insurance, has raised $18.5 million in Series B funding led byFoundation Capital, with participation from earlier backers Union Square VenturesIndex VenturesCV Starr, and Two Sigma VenturesMore here.

Creative Market, an online marketplace for ready-to-use design assets from independent creators, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Accomplice. The company was spun out of publicly traded Autodesk. VatorNews has more here.

EazyDiner, a three-year-old, Gurgaon, India-based restaurant reservation startup, has raised $4.6 million in Series B funding led byBeenext, with participation from an undisclosed family office and earlier backers DSG Consumer Partners and Saama Capital. DealStreetAsia has more here.

Grover, a two-year-old, Berlin-based startup that enables people to subscribe to tech products monthly instead of buying them, has raised $11.7 million in debt funding from Varengold BankMore here.

HappyOrNot, an eight-year-old, Tampere, Finland-based feedback data analytics company, has raised $14.5 million in Series A funding led by Northzone. Tech.eu has more here.

Janpix, a new, Massachusetts-based startup that’s developing selective small molecule inhibitors of STAT proteins as a cancer treatment, has raised C$22 million ($17.6 million) in  funding fromMedicxi, a European venture firm. BioSpace has more here.

Knowbox, a three-year-old, Beijing, China-based mobile app startup that helps teachers and students manage their homework, has raised $30 million in Series B-plus funding led by Bertelsmann Asia Investments, with participation from HaoweilaiBaidu Ventures and New World Development Co. The company had raised $15 million in Series B funding last November. More on the company here.

Kobalt, a 17-year-old, New York-based music rights and publishing company, has added $14 million in fresh funding to a Series D round that brings the company’s total funding to $80 million. The round was led by VC Bill Maris, who is now joining the company’s board of directors. Variety has more here.

SecurityScorecard, a four-year-old, New York-based grading service that helps organizations identify and manage key risks of their cloud-based information systems and those of their partners, has raised $27.5 million in Series C funding led by Nokia Growth Partners. Other investors in the round include Moody’s CorporationAXA Strategic VenturesIntel Capital, and earlier backers Sequoia CapitalGVBoldstart VenturesTwo Sigma Ventures, and Evolution Equity Partners. VentureBeat has more here.

ShiftLeft, a year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based startup promising to protect developers’ code (even when companies ignore security threats), has raised $9.3 million in Series A funding co-led by Bain Capital Ventures and Mayfield, with participation from numerous individuals. TechCrunch has more here.

Tooshlights, a 4.5-year-old, Tarzana, Ca.-based smart restroom traffic management system (so you know if a stall is occupied without crumbling to your knees first), has raised $3 million in Series A funding from the Texas-based convenience store chain Buc-ee’s. Internet of Business has more here.

True Link Financial, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based financial services firm focused on seniors, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by QED Investors, with participation from Radicle Impact and Initialized CapitalMore here.

IPOs

It’s been a good day for three companies that just went public after toiling away at their businesses for a number of years:

CarGurus, an 11-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based car marketplace that had never raised venture capital, raised $150 million in an IPO before hitting the market this morning, where it shares soared 72 percent before the market’s close. The company is the first Boston-based tech company to go public this year.

OrthoPediatrics, an 11-year-old, Warsaw, In.-based company that makes pediatric orthopedic implants, raised $52 million in an IPO. Its shares, available to the public for the first time this morning, ended the day 47 percent higher than where they started.

Restoration Robotics, a 16-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based company whose robots assist doctors in hair transplant surgery, raised $25 million in an offering before hitting the market this morning. Its shares traded up 41 percent before the market’s close.

Exits

Bessemer Venture Partners and Fifth Wall Ventures has acquired the majority share of WiredScore  a real estate tech firm — of Jared Kushner. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Forbes has more here.

People

Vijay Sondhi has joined Financial Technology Partners a managing director. He’d spent the previous five years with Visa, leaving as an SVP.

Scale Venture Partners just promoted three of its colleagues. Alexander Niehenke is now a partner with the firm, Susan Liu to principal, and Jeremy Kaufmann has been bumped up to senior associate.

Jobs

LaunchCapital, a seed and early-stage VC firm, is newly hiring for an investment associate to help source and evaluate new deals. The job is in New Haven, Ct.

Essential Reads

Twitter is infuriating users again today, having temporarily blocked (without explaining more quickly why) the account of actor Rose McGowan. She has been speaking out in recent days against producer Harvey Weinstein. Twitter now says it blocked the account because a tweet of McGowan’s included a private phone number. Many are asking why the company has been so comparatively lenient when handling more serious and provocative missteps on the platform, including those of Donald Trump.

Amazon‘s second headquarter bid has ignited a “sadistic” frenzy across North American cities that want a shot at the prize.

A Chicago-based company that’s backed by Goldman Sachs andAlphabet and reportedly worth $5.5 billion, has misled advertisers with manipulated info, reports the WSJ.

“South Park” just slammed Facebook for selling fake news.

Detours

Why tech companies should hire English majors.

pet furniture collection, by Ikea.

Jerry Rice, wedding crasher.

Retail Therapy

Noise-cancelling headphones. All of them.:)




StrictlyVC: October 11, 2017

Hi, happy Wednesday! Hope yours is going well.:)

Top News

Alibaba Group said today that it plans to invest more than $15 billion over the next three years into a global, moonshot-idea-building R&D initiative called Alibaba DAMO Academy. TechCrunch has more here.

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Icon Ventures Raises Its Biggest Fund (By a Smidgen)

Funds have been ballooning in size as more money continues to flood into Silicon Valley, looking for higher returns than can be found elsewhere. VCs also like raising progressively bigger funds because doing so gives them bragging rights. In fact, over the last 24 months, the narrative has been much the same: So-and-so team has raised more money than ever before.

Some of these so-and-sos have included Accel Partners, which raised a record $2 billion last year; Canaan Partners, which raised a record $800 million in July; and Institutional Venture Partners, which closed its biggest fund yet last month, with $1.5 billion.

Now Icon Ventures, a 14-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based venture capital firm, has closed its sixth fund with $265 million in commitments — its largest fund to date, if just by a smidgen, having closed it last fund with $260 million in 2014.

Some profitable bets surely helped. Icon began helping to fund the cybersecurity company FireEye at its Series B round; the company went on to raise three more rounds of funding before going public in 2013. It has performed solidly, if not spectacularly, since. Its shares debuted at $36 apiece; they currently trade at $17 per share, giving the company a market cap of roughly $3.2 billion.

Icon also invested in the Series C round of network security firm Palo Alto Networks, which has soared as a publicly traded company. When it IPO’d in 2012, its shares debuted at $42 apiece. Today, its shares trade at $147 dollars, and the company is valued at $13.7 billion.

More here.

New Funds

Attivo Networks, a six-year-old, Fremont, Ca.-based maker of so-called deception-based detection technology, has raised $21 million in Series C funding led by Trident Capital Cybersecurity, with participation from earlier backers Bain Capital Ventures andOmidyar Technology Ventures. The company has now raised $45.7 million altogether. More here.

Brilliant, a two-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based startup whose tech aims to give consumers voice and touch control over lighting, music, climate, and other smart home products, has raised $21 million in Series A funding led by August Capital, with participation fromMiramar VenturesThe Box Group, and the Stanford-StartX FundMore here.

Diandian Yangche, a three-year-old, Hangzhou, China-based start up offering a range of painting and cleaning services for cars in more than 20 Chinese cities (it also more recently jumped into the auto nsurance business), has raised “tens of millions of dollars” of Series C+ funding, including from investors GGV CapitalGSR Ventures,Garden Ventures, and Magic Stone Alternative. The company had closed on $60 million in Series C funding in 2015. More here.

eShares, a five-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based company that’s trying to modernize the way private companies manage and interact with their shareholders and optionholders, has raised $42 million in Series C funding led by Menlo Ventures and Social Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Gaiya Environment, a young, Suzhou, China-based maker of environmental protection sensors and other tech, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Qiming Venture Partners. China Money Network has more here.

Honest Buildings, a five-year-old, New York-based maker of construction management software for landlords and developers — it helps them manage and solicit bids from contractors and oversee budgets — has raised $13 million in a Series B funding. Investors include Brookfield Property PartnersRudin ManagementC-III Capital PartnersNavitas CapitalGreensoil Building Innovation FundBienville Capital Management, and Riverpark Funds. Earlier backers The Westly GroupRockport Capital,Circle Ventures and Thrive Capital also joined the round. The RealDeal has more here.

Impossible Objects, a six-year-old, Northbrook, Il.-based company that says it has developed a completely new 3D printing technology, has raised $6.4 million in funding led by earlier investor OCA Ventures of Chicago. Other investors in the round include Idea Fund PartnersMason Avenue InvestmentsHuizenga Capital Management, and Inflection Equity Partners. Crain’s Chicago Business has more here.

Lalamove, a four-year-old, Hong Kong-based intra-city delivery company that connects hundreds of thousands of customers with tens of thousands of professional vans, motorcycles, and truck drivers, has raised  $100 million in new financing at a valuation that’s “just shy of the $1 billion mark,” reports TechCrunch.ShunWei Capital led the round, with participation from earlier backers, including Xiang He Capital and MindWorks Ventures.More here.

MioTech, a young, Hong Kong- and Shanghai, China-based financial tech startup that’s developing artificial intelligence-based software for investment managers, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Horizons Ventures, with participation from returning investor Zhenfund. TechCrunch has more here.

NumberAI, a year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based company whose technology enables small businesses to digitize their landline numbers and thus make interacting with customers easier, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding from DFJ. TechCrunch has more here.

Ola, a six-year-old, Bangalore-based ride-hailing company, has closed $1.1 billion in fresh financing. That’s the largest funding round in its history and its first major raise since November 2015, when it closed $500 million from investors. China’s Tencent is a new backer and the lead investor of the round. SoftBank, an existing Ola investor, also chipped into the round. TechCrunch has more here.

Ometria, a four-year-old, London-based AI-powered customer marketing platform, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led bySummit Action. TechCrunch has more here.

Ross Intelligence, a two-year-old, Toronto-based platform that helps legal teams sort through case law to find details relevant to new cases, has raised $8.7 million in Series A funding led iNovia Capital, with participation from Comcast Ventures Catalyst Fund,Y Combinator Continuity FundReal VenturesNextLaw Labsand angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Withlocals, a four-year-old, Netherlands-based startup that operates a marketplace for personalized travel experiences, has raised $4.2 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Inkef Capital, an Amsterdam-headquartered venture firm. TechCrunch has more here.

(Other) New Funds

Arab Angel Fund, a two-year-old, seed and Series A stage investment fund, says it has closed its debut fund with $25 million in capital commitments from 65 private family offices and individual investors from a wide swath of Middle Eastern countries. The outfit invests in tech startups that launch in North America but are interested in expanding into the Middle East. Entrepreneur has more here.

IPOs

HelloFresh, the Berlin-based cooking kit delivery company, says it plans to raise up to $353 million in an IPO on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The move would value HelloFresh at up to 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in the public markets — below the its private market valuation of 2 billion euros. More here.

People

Symantec CEO Greg Clark tells Reuters that company is no longer allowing governments to review the source code of its software out of fear they might compromise the security of its products.

Lightspeed Venture Partners has brought aboard a marketing and spiritual guru named Tara-Nicholle Nelson as an entrepreneur in residence to work on her next big project. VentureBeat has more here.

eBay founder Pierre Omidyar argues that social media has become a threat to democracy in six key ways.

Data

Mobile shopping is on the rise, with U.S. consumers now spending nearly 50 minutes in shopping apps per month, or 10 hours per year, according to a new report out this morning from App Annie. Digital-first shopping apps, like those from Amazon, Etsy, Wish and others, are also growing more quickly in terms of total sessions and monthly usage, compared to shopping apps from traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, the report also found. TechCrunch has much more here.

The venture investments of Yale University seem to be faring pretty well. The endowment said yesterday that it returned 11.3 percent for the fiscal year ended June 30, bringing its value to $27.2 billion. That’s up from 7.1 percent from the year before. By asset class, reports Pensions & Investments, Yale’s 20-year annualized returns were venture capital, 106.3 percent; natural resources, 15.2 percent; foreign equities, 14.1 percent; leveraged buyouts, 12.6 percent; domestic equities, 12.2 percent; real estate, 10.3 percent; and absolute return, 8.9 percent. More here.

Essential Reads

File-sharing giant Dropbox has signed the biggest lease in San Francisco history, an agreement for 736,000 square feet, the entirety of a new office complex under construction in the southwest corner of Mission Bay. (Expensive gamble. Good luck, Dropbox!)

A device that Google gave to reporters at a launch event almost constantly recorded them, owing to a “glitch.”

Detours

The science of spying: how the CIA secretly recruits academics.

What makes someone “most beautiful” is changing, suggests a new report.

Elliot and E Corp are coming back. (Yesss.)

Retail Therapy

$199 Oculus headset. It ships next year.




StrictlyVC: October 10, 2017

Hi, happy Tuesday, everyone! We’re on our fourth cup of coffee already. That’s probably okay, right? (We’re very tired. We blame our lovable mascot, Brodie the Terrier-orist.)

Great to see some of you last night at the swank offices of Jackson Square Ventures, where we had the pleasure of interviewing author Frans Johnanson on how organizations can better ensure their teams are diverse. For those who missed it, we’ll have more on that for you soon.

Top News

Apple is betting on Steven Spielberg for its first major foray into creating original video content, striking a deal with Spielberg’s Amblin Television and NBCUniversal to make new episodes of “Amazing Stories,” a science fiction series that ran in the ’80s. The WSJ has the story here.

Sponsored By . . .

EquityZen. We operate a secondary market for company-approved transactions in pre-IPO stock. Founded in 2013, EquityZen has already closed over 2,500 investments in 75+ companies. For as low as $10K on your first investment, you can gain access to proven private companies like Spotify, Lyft, and more! Join for free and begin investing in the private markets: equityzen.com.

A Movie About Former Uber Engineer Susan Fowler is Being Shopped Around

In all likelihood, when former Uber engineer Susan Fowler authored a now-famous post about her “very strange year” at Uber and the culture of sexism she witnessed first-hand at the company, she had no clue it would have such colossal ripple effects.

Yet, here with are, nine months later, and not only has Uber’s cofounder Travis Kalanick lost what once seemed like an iron grip on the role of CEO; not only has one of the company’s earliest investors and staunchest supporters filed suit against Kalanick, ostensibly for hiding problems at the company; not only has Kalanick seen his super-voting shares annulled; but now, according to a new report in Deadline Hollywood, Fowler’s story is being made into a film that’s being pitched to studios as you read this.

For Kalanick, that has to sting. For Fowler — who, reached for comment, pointed us to her agent — it must seem a sweetly surreal victory.

So what do we know so far about what’s cooking? According to Deadline, Fowler has “pledged her life rights” to a movie pitch that will be written by Oscar-nominated “Hidden Figures” screenwriter Allison Schroeder and produced by former Disney executive Kristin Burr in “what is being described as a potential ‘Erin Brockovich’ meets ‘The Social Network,’” says Deadline.

It isn’t clear how many studios the seven-year-old, L.A.-based talent agency representing her, called Verve, has approached. Fowler’s agent has not yet responded to our further questions about the project. But it’s certainly timely, particularly given that Hollywood is currently reeling from the fall of one of its own power brokers, film producer Harvey Weinstein, who has reportedly sexually harassed women in his orbit for decades, included the actors Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie.

Comparing Weinstein to Kalanick is comparing apples to bananas. Kalanick was accused of enabling a culture of sexism to thrive under his leadership; Weinstein’s crimes are far more serious.

Still, it was largely thanks to Kalanick’s forced resignation — the realization that speaking up about wrongdoings can actually help correct them — that other cases of harassment have come to light in Silicon Valley. 

More here.

New Fundings

Andela, a three-year-old, New York-based company connecting Africa’s top developers with global companies in need of tech talent, has raised $40 million in Series C funding. CRE Venture Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including DBL Partners,AmploSalesforce VenturesTLcom CapitalChan Zuckerberg InitiativeGV, and Spark Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Bigscreen, a three-year-old, Berkeley, Ca.-based startup creating an immersive virtual reality telepresence platform, has raised $11 million in Series A funding led by True Ventures, with participation from earlier backer Andreessen Horowitz. The WSJ has more here.

Bill.com, an 11-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based business payments network, has raised $100 million in funding co-led by JPMorgan Chase and Temasek. Reuters has more here.

HIPPEAS, a two-year-old, L.A.-based company that makes a range of organic chickpea “puffs,” has raised $10 million in funding fromCAVU Venture PartnersMore here.

Huishoubao, a Shenzhen, China-based smartphone recycling company, has raised $45 million in Series B funding led by Strait Capital, with participation from Source Code CapitalSMC Capital ChinaCITIC and Chengwei Capital. China Money Network hasmore here.

ImaginAb, a 10-year-old, Inglewood, Ca.-based immuno-oncology imaging company, has raised $8 million in funding led by Adage Capital. Other backers include the Parker Institute for Cancer ImmunotherapyNVFCycad GroupNextech Invest and Jim Pallotta. L.A. Business Journal has more here.

Mapbox, a 7.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that provides developers and businesses with maps, location search, and direction services that are specific to mobile, AR/VR, and web applications, has raised $164 million in Series C funding round led by the SoftBank Vision Fund, with participation from earlier backers, including Foundry GroupDFJDBL Partners, and Thrive Capital. The New York Times has more here.

PanOptica, an eight-year-old, Bernardsville, N.J.-based developer of ophthalmology therapies, has raised $11 million in Series B funding, including from Third Rock Ventures and SV Health Investors. FierceBiotech has more here.

Petuum, a 1.5-year-old, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based company that’s building software to facilitate two components of machine learning development, has raised a whopping $93 million in Series B funding from Advantech Capital and Softbank (proper, not its Vision Fund). TechCrunch has more here.

Shockwave Medical, an eight-year-old, Fremont, Ca.-based company whose technology was designed to treat calcified cardiovascular disease, has raised $35 million in funding, including from Fidelity Management & Research Company and T. Rowe Price Associates. FierceBiotech has more here.

Standard Cognition, a months-old, San Francisco-based developer of automated retail checkout software, has raised $5 million in seed funding led by CRV, with participation from Initialized Capital andY Combinator. TechCrunch has more here.

Tongdun Technology, a four-year-old, Hangzhou, China-based fintech startup specializing in risk control, has raised $72.8 million in new funding from TemasekTiantu Capital and Xindahanshi Capital. China Money Network has more here.

Tujia, a six-year-old China-based short-term vacation home rental platform that competes with Airbnb, has raised $300 million in Series E funding, at a valuation of more than $1.5 billion, says China Money Network. Earlier backers All-Stars Investment and Ctrip led the round, with participation from China Renaissance’s New Economy Fund, Glade Brook Capital, and G Street CapitalMore here.

Verve, a 3.5-year-old, London-based startup that offers a sales platform to enable brands to easily run advocacy programs, has raised $18.5 million in Series B funding. Draper Esprit led the round, with participation from previous investors Kindred,Frontline Ventures, and Backed. TechCrunch has more here.

Visor, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based online tax filing and advisory startup, has raised $6.5 million in seed funding led byObvious Ventures. Other participants in the round include Social CapitalMaveronLux CapitalFika VenturesBox Group and individual investors, including Niklas ZennströmMore here.

New Funds

A former investor with New Enterprise Associates, Sheel Tyle, is planning to raise up to $100 million for his own fund, Amplo, reports Forbes. More here.

Singapore-based Vickers Venture Partners says it has closed on $230 million for its fifth fund, which includes a yuan-denominated vehicle of $40 million, making it the largest private fund in Southeast Asia. The new vehicle is more than three times larger than its predecessor, which closed with $81.1 million in 2012. DealStreetAsia has more here.

Sponsored By . . .

Let’s hope you have a flexible WFH policy. Because once you start showering with Parachute, you might never leave home again. These towels and bathrobes are so soft and absorbent, you’ll burn all your pants and cancel all your meetings. Shop now.

Exits

HandUp, a San Francisco-based four-year-old online platform where anyone can donate directly to homeless people and others in need, is selling itself to the Detroit-based South Oakland Shelter for an undisclosed amount in a deal that HandUp’s CEO describes as a “primarily philanthropic acquisition.” TechCrunch has more here.

People

After a twenty-something-year hiatus, Menlo Ventures has decided to dive back into the health care sector. The Sand Hill Road firm is adding Greg Yap as a partner to lead investments in health, medical, and life sciences technologies. The firm plans to invest 15 percent of Menlo XIV — a $450 million fund that the firm closed earlier this year — in early-stage companies at the intersection of biology and technology. VentureBeat has the story here. 

Essential Reads

How the Russians operated under our radar.

It’s hard to build something secret in LA or SF without anyone finding out. So Snap is building a new R&D office in the remote location of Lehi, Utah, 30 miles south of Salt Lake City.

Amazon is exploring ways to deliver items to your car trunk and the inside of your home. (You may recall that Walmart is also testing out a service that would allow delivery people to enter your home. So is Jet.com.)

Detours

Wildfires are still burning up thousands of homes and businesses in Northern California.

Inside an untouched Frank Lloyd Wright home.

Some pig!

Retail Therapy

Now you can drive a Porsche on the regular without actually owning one.




StrictlyVC: October 9, 2017

Hi, happy Monday, everyone.:)

We’re sure that some of you, like us, found it disconcerting to wake up to ashes and smoke in the air in San Francisco this morning. (As many readers may already know, multiple fires are raging right now in Napa and Sonoma counties.) Sounds like nothing is contained quite yet. In the meantime, we’re thinking of friends and their families across the bridge.

Top News in the A.M.

Google for the first time has uncovered evidence that Russian operatives exploited its platforms in an attempt to interfere with last year’s presidential election. The Washington Post has more here.

Sponsored by . . .

EquityZen. We operate a secondary market for company-approved transactions in pre-IPO stock. Founded in 2013, EquityZen has already closed over 2,500 investments in 75+ companies. For as low as $10K on your first investment, you can gain access to proven private companies like Spotify, Lyft, and more! Join for free and begin investing in the private markets: equityzen.com.

New Fundings

Ascendify, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based social recruitment for talent management platform, has raised $11 million in Series A funding led by Canaan Partners, with participation from GE Ventures and Cisco Investments. SiliconAngle has more here.

Docker, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based container software maker, is raising up to $75 million new funding, according to an SEC filing that shows the company has already raised at least $61.8 million. The company’s previous investors include Greylock PartnersInsight Venture Partners and Sequoia CapitalMore here.

GitLab, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based web-based open source Git repository manager, has raised $20 million in Series C funding led by GV. TechCrunch has more here.

Harmony Biosciences, a newly formed, Plymouth Meeting, Pa.-based biotech focused that was spun out of Paragon Biosciences and is focused on sleep and CNS disorders, has raised $270 million in new equity funding from Valor Equity PartnersFidelityHBM Healthcare InvestmentsVivo CapitalvenBio PartnersNovo Holdings and Nan Fung Life Sciences. Some of that capital is being used acquire the exclusive U.S. rights to a narcolepsy drug from France’s Bioprojet. More here.

Laundryheap, a three-year-old, London-based laundry on-demand startup, has raised £2 million ($2.6 million) million in angel funding, with an additional £1 million if equity crowdfunding via Seedrs planned for later this year. The round is being led by Simon Smith and QVentures. TechCrunch has more here.

Sight Sciences, an eight-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based commercial-stage ophthalmic medical device company, has raised $10 million in Series C funding led by Allegro Investment Fund, with participation from all previous investors. FierceBiotech has more here.

Sourcegraph, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that aims to make exploring code anywhere as painless as searching and browsing the web, has raised $20 million in Series A funding led byRedpoint Ventures and Goldcrest CapitalMore here.

Supreme, a 23-year-old, New York-based streetwear brand, has reportedly sold a 50 percent stake in its business to the Carlyle Group for roughly $500 million. Highsnobiety has more here.

TSC Apparel, a 17-year-old, Cincinnati, Oh.-based B2B distributor of imprintable apparel products and accessories, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from CenterGate CapitalMore here.

Veeba Food Services, a four-year-old, New Delhi, India-based condiments and sauce maker, has raised a little more than $6 million in Series C funding led by earlier backer Verlinvest, the Belgium-based investment holding company of Anheuser-Busch InBev founding families. Other investors in the round include DSG Consumer Partners and Sixth Sense Ventures. LiveMint hasmore here.

Wheels Up, a five-year-old, New York-based private aviation company, has raised $117.5 million in funding co-led by Fidelity Management & Research Company and T. Rowe Price Associates, with participation from New Enterprise Associatesand others. The Miami Herald has more here.

Zume Pizza, a two-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based store-less pizza company that uses robots to bake its pies, has raised $48 million as part of a venture round that looks to have targeted $50 million, per an SEC filing. The company previously raised over $23 million from AME Cloud VenturesMaveronSignalFire, andKortschak Investments. CNBC has more here.

New Funds

IvyCap Ventures, a 6.5-year-old, Mumbai, India-based firm, is planning to launch a $76 million debt venture in the next three months, according to a senior executive. The venture firm typically invests in early-to-growth stage companies. The debt fund will focus on mid-stage start-ups that are at the stage of seeking out Series B or Series C funding.  LiveMint has more here.

Vertex Ventures, the venture capital arm of Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings, says it has closed a new, $210 million fund to invest in southeast Asian and Indian startups, exceeding its original target size of $150 million. Reuters has the story here.

Holy IPOs!

Allena, a seven-year-old, Newton, Ma.-based company developing metabolic disorder treatments (and has recently experienced two Phase 2 flops), has filed to raise $92 million in an IPO. The company’s biggest outside shareholders include Frazier Healthcare PartnersThird Rock VenturesBessemer Venture Partners, and Fidelity, among others. FierceBiotech has more here.

Aquantia, a 13-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based Ethernet manufacturer, has filed to raise $86 million in an IPO. The company’s biggest outside shareholders include Pinnacle VenturesWalden InternationalRusnano, and Mubadala Investment Company, among others. MarketWatch has (slightly) more here.

Erytech Pharma, a 13-year-old, Lyon, France-based biotech that’s developing cancer treatments, has filed to raised $100 million in an IPO that will be used to help fund a Phase 3 pancreatic cancer trial. The company’s biggest outside shareholders include Baker Bros Advisors and Auriga Partners. FierceBiotech has more here.

Funko, a 19-year-old, Everett, Wa.-based company best known for its Pop! series of big-eyed, square faced vinyl figurines., has filed for an $100 million IPO, with plans to list on the Nasdaq. CEO Brian Mariottibought Funko from founder Mike Becker in 2005, and sold it to private equity firm Fundamental Capital in 2013. The company changed hands again in 2015, with the sale of a controlling stake toAcon Investments, another private equity firm. The Seattle Times has more here.

Loton, a seven-year-old, Beverly Hills, Ca.-based online network for streaming live music, has revealed plans to raise $100 million in an IPO. The company’s biggest outside investors include Robert Ellin, a managing member of Trinad Advisors; Sandor Capital; andPrimary InvestmentsMore here.

Sea, Southeast Asia’s most valuable startup that’s known for its Garena gaming and shopping platform, aims to raise as much as $696 million in a U.S. IPO. The Singapore-based company, formerly called Garena, is marketing 49.7 million American depositary shares for $12 to $14 apiece, according to a new regulatory filing. Bloomberg has more here.

Spero Therapeutics, a four-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based company seeking a treatment for drug-resistant bacterial infections, has filed to raise up to $86 million in an IPO. The company’s biggest outside investors include GlaxoSmithKlineAtlas Venture, andGV. More here.

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Exits

Cruise, the self-driving car startup that GM acquired last year, has acquired a startup of its own – Strobe, three-year-old, Pasadena-based LiDAR sensor maker that reduces an entire LiDAR array down to just one chip, which Cruise says will be instrumental in helping it reduce the cost of LiDAR on a per vehicle basis by nearly 100 percent. TechCrunch has more here.

The Belgian Post Group, a logistics and supply chain company that’s based in Brussels and also known as bpost, has acquired Radial, the fulfillment company formerly known as eBay enterprise, for $820 million. Why it matters: Radial is considered to be Amazon’s largest competitor for fulfillment in the U.S., tapping into deliveries not just from huge retailers but hundreds of smaller businesses and startups. TechCrunch has more here.

Guidewire Software has agreed to acquire Cyence, a four-year-old San Mateo, Ca.-based startup that helps insurers assess cyber risk. Cyence had raised $40 million in funding just last fall led byNew Enterprise Associates, with participation from IVP andDowling Capital Management. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. 451 Research has more here.

People

Uber’s HR chief Liane Hornsey talks with the WSJ about what steps the company has taken, and what’s still ahead.

Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, has let loose at critics on Twitter over the company’s algorithms.

Data

U.S. startup investors were good at putting capital to work this past quarter. They weren’t as good at getting it back. More here.

Essential Reads

How a Silicon Valley striver became the alt-right’s tech hero.

Detours

Jeff Koons’s augmented reality Snapchat artwork gets “vandalized.”

Comic Nathan Macintosh does not want to talk with robots.

This company says its software can pick soccer stars.

Retail Therapy

Jennifer Lopez has listed her New York City penthouse for $27 million, should you want to take a look.

Guess it’s a good time to buy that private jet.




StrictlyVC: October 6, 2017

Friday! [Jumping jacks.] Hope you have a terrific weekend, everyone.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Former Yammer and Zenefits CEO David Sacks appears to be raising a venture capital fund, according to an SEC filing flagged by Axios.

AOL is shutting down Instant Messenger on December 15.

Sponsored By . . .

EquityZen. We operate a secondary market for company-approved transactions in pre-IPO stock. Founded in 2013, EquityZen has already closed over 2,500 investments in 75+ companies. For as low as $10K on your first investment, you can gain access to proven private companies like Spotify, Lyft, and more! Join for free and begin investing in the private markets: equityzen.com.

Roivant Looks to Turn the Page, and Quickly

A new hormonal therapy designed to treat uterine fibroids called relugolix has finished a Phase 3 study in Japan, and the results are positive.

That’s welcome news for a SoftBank-based company based in Basel, Switzerland called Roivant Sciences that’s separately dealing with much lousier news.

But let’s back up a bit first.

The Phase 3 trial was one of several Phase 3 trials of relugolix that are ongoing, including in the U.S. and Europe, where the drug is also being tested as a means to treat endometriosis-associated pain and to help men with advanced prostate cancer by suppressing their testosterone levels. The result out of Japan isn’t enough to win it FDA approval, but Myovant, the biopharmaceutical company behind it, is expected to use the result from Japan to support its approval here in the U.S.

Why does it matter? Well, for one thing, a win would be meaningful for Myovant, which staged the biggest biotech IPO of last year, shortly after recruiting Lynn Seely as its CEO. (Seely was formerly the chief medical officer of Medivation, which sold to Pfizer last year for $14 billion). In other words, expectations are high.

Myovant is also a subsidiary of Roivant, a young holding company whose 32-year-old founder, Vivek Ramaswamy, believes will become a giant holding company for dozens of independent biopharmaceutical companies.

Ramaswamy sold SoftBank on that vision over the summer, in fact, with SoftBank leading a $1.1 billion investment in the company (and getting a steep discount on its privately held shares in the process, we’re told).

Then, disaster. More specifically, early last week, Axovant — another of Roivant’s holding companies that was taken public and itself wound up becoming the biggest biotech IPO of 2015 — received news that its much-hyped, experimental Alzheimer’s drug, interperdine, doesn’t work. (We wrote about that here.)

Now, to regain his place as a wunderkind of the biotech world, Ramaswamy — a Harvard-educated biology major with a law degree from Yale — needs some positive momentum.

More here.

New Fundings

Bioarray Genetics, an eight-year-old, Farmington, Cn.-based personalized medicine startup, has raised $4 million in Series B funding from Quark Venture, GF Securities, and Connecticut InnovationsMore here.

Butterfly, a nearly three-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based online platform that provides real-time leadership coaching, has raised $2.4 million in seed funding from DaphniTectonic VenturesPrecursor Ventures and numerous angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Gobble, a seven-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based 15-minute meal kit delivery service, has raised $15 million in Series B funding from Khosla Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

The Honest Company, a five-year-old, L.A.-based consumer product goods company that sells all-natural body and home care products, is reportedly raising a down round, and losing its “unicorn” status in the process. More here.

NearGroup, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based chatbot that connects people based on their proximity, personality and creative content, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding led by OpenOcean, with participation from Neotribe and BoostVC. TechCrunch has more here.

Netcapital, a two-year-old, Boston-based funding portal that connects private companies with retail investors, has raised an undisclosed amount of money from TechStars, along with a long list of individual investors, including DraftKings CEO Jason Robins, longtime tech operator George Bell, and former Intuit and Personal Capital founder and former CEO Bill HarrisMore here.

QuanticMind, a six-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based maker of predictive advertising management software, just raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Foundation Capital, with participation from other investors, including Safeguard Scientifics and Cervin VenturesMore here.

Shyftplan, a five-year-old, Berlin-based company that makes workforce management software for industrial enterprises and smart factories, has raised €3 million ($3.5 million) in Series A funding from Unternehmertum Venture Capital PartnersSenovocoparion and Kizoo Technology CapitalMore here.

Stellar Labs, a three-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based marketplace for private chartered flights, has raised $26.3 million in Series A funding from Global Jet Capital, Columbia Equity Partners, and ExpaMore here.

Vestagen Protective Technologies, an eight-year-old, Orlando, Fla.-based maker of advanced performance textile products, raised $9.5 million in fundind, including from Advent Life SciencesHealthQuest CapitalGreenline Ventures, Northwell Ventures and Mercy Health of CincinnatiMore here.

UrbanSitter, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based online childcare marketplace, just raised $17 million in Series C funding led by Advance Venture Partners, with participation from Canaan PartnersAspect VenturesDBL InvestorsFirst Round CapitalMenlo Ventures and Rustic Canyon Partners.

Visterra, a 10-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based biotech company focused on identifying and treating unique disease targets, has raised $46.7 million in Series C funding. Investors include the Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationMRL Ventures FundVertex Venture HoldingsPolaris PartnersFlagship PioneeringOmega FundsCycad Group and Alexandria Venture Investments. FierceBiotech has more here.

IPOs

HelloFresh, the meal-kit startup owned by Rocket Internet, aims to announce an IPO in the second half of October, as the German company tries to distance itself from the post-IPO flop of Blue Apron, says Bloomberg.

MongoDB, a 10-year-old, New York-based cloud company, plans to raise about $152 million in an IPO of eight million shares that are priced between $18 to $20, the company revealed in a new filing. The company’s biggest backers include Sequoia CapitalFlybridge CapitalUnion Square Ventures, and New Enterprise Associates.

On Wednesday, Rhythm Pharmaceuticals, a nine-year-old, Boston-based biotech company that’s developing obesity treatments, raised $120 million in an offering of 7 million shares priced at $17, above its previously stated range of between $14 to $16 a piece. Rhythm’s biggest outside shareholders include New Enterprise AssociatesThird Rock VenturesMPM BioVentures , OrbiMed Private Investments, and Pfizer. As of this writing, the shares are now trading at roughly $25 apiece. Xconomy has more here.

Switch, a 17-year-old, Las Vegas, Nev.-based data center company, raised $531 million in an offering of 31.3 million shares at $17, above its previously stated range of  $14 to $16 apiece. It began trading on the NYSE this morning and things are trending well right now.

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Exits

Boeing said yesterday that it plans to acquire Aurora Flight Sciences, a  550-person, Virginia-based maker of aerial drones and pilotless flying systems in a move that Boeing said could pave the way for fleets of small flying taxis. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. Fox Business News has more here.

People

Elon Musk finally gets the melancholy theme song he deserves.

Google News creator has called its coverage of the Las Vegas massacre “shameful and irresponsible.”

Data

Sovereign wealth funds are hoping early investments in small healthcare and biotech firms will yield big returns down the line. So suggests new data from the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute that shows such funds’ direct investments in privately held pharmaceutical and healthcare companies totaled $5.58 billion this year as of mid-September, up from $2.15 billin in the first three quarters of last year. Reuters has more here.

Essential Reads

Amazon is in the final stages of figuring out its strategy to get into the multibillion dollar prescription drug market. CNBC has more here.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau yesterday imposed tough new restrictions on so-called payday lending, dealing a potentially crushing blow to an industry that churns out billions of dollars a year in high-interest loans.

Here’s how a tender offer like Uber‘s would unfold.

Detours

Ancient viruses are buried in your DNA.

Ten bars to see before you die.

Retail Therapy

Apartment things to buy in your 20s. (We can attest that enamel mugs are forever.)

“So, I’ll just be downstairs, fixing something.”