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StrictlyVC: October 27, 2017

Friday! [Tom Cruise-style-sock slide.] Hope you have a terrific weekend, everyone.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Whoa. According to the WSJ, CVS is in talks to buy Aetna for more than $66 billion as the drugstore giant scrambles to fortify itself against looming competition from Amazon. (You may have heard: Amazon has quietly received pharmacy-wholesaler licenses in a dozen states.) More here.

Also somewhat shocking: Amazon is now the second-largest U.S. employer after Walmart.

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Peter Thiel Thinks Focus on Self-Driving Misses an Important Shift: Telecommuting

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel doesn’t like investing in trends, he’s fond of saying. It’s a mantra he repeated this week at the Future Investment Initiative, an investment forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he took the stage with journalist Maria Bartiromo.

Asked about where he’s investing, he noted that he’s looking outside of Silicon Valley largely, but he suggested he doesn’t put much stock in “buzzwords” like SaaS software or virtual computing or augmented reality or artificial intelligence. “Even though these trends may or may not happen, as investments, they’re dangerous,” he said. In fact, “when you hear buzzwords, you should run away as fast as you can,” he added. Otherwise, there are “many companies of that kind, and many competitors.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Thiel feels the same way about self-driving technologies —  even while his venture firm, Founders Fund, is an investor in the ride-sharing company Lyft, whose future would seem to depend on its ability to become a self-driving company at some point.

Thiel did say, however, that he will make one exception to his own rule; he said that he’s willing to “look at trends that aren’t on anybody’s radar.”

In fact, one trend that he said he thinks merits far more attention that it receives today, perhaps because it doesn’t challenge the mind in the same way as self-driving cars or flying planes might, is good-old telecommuting and how the inevitable rise of it will change the landscape.

Indeed, asked about the future of transportation, Thiel seemed to suggest there might not be much need for it, at least, not by individuals needing to get to the jobs.

More here.

New Fundings

&pizza, a five-year-old, Washington D.C.-based pizza chain, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from RSE VenturesMore here.

Carousell, a five-year-old, Singapore-based mobile listing service for secondhand goods and services, has raised between $70 million and $80 million in Series C funding, including from RakutenSequoia CapitalGolden Gate Ventures and500 Startups. TechCrunch has more here.

City Cloud International, a Hangzhou, China-based cloud computing startup, has raised $30 million in Series B funding co-led by Cisco Investments and Country Garden Holdings. DealStreetAsia has more here.

SoundAI, a 1.5-year-old, Beijing, China-based developer of acoustic technologies, has raised $15 million in equity and debt funding, including from BaiduAplus CapitalFrees FundLinekong Interactive Group and the Bank of Beijing. China Money Network has more here.

Templum, a months-old, New York-based blockchain startup, has raised $2.7 million in seed funding, including from Raptor GroupGalaxy Investment PartnersBlockchain Capital and firstminute.capitalMore here.

New Funds

The Hong Kong-based investment firm China Everbright, and the international venture firm Walden International Group, are jointly launching a $500 million fund that will target investments in enterprises along the semiconductor and electronic information supply chain, including microchips and artificial intelligence. China Money Network has more here.

IPOs

ForeScout Technologies, an Internet of Thing security company, saw its shares spike 16 percent during intraday trading today after going public this morning. After pricing at the top of the range at $22 per share, the stock is hovering above $25. TechCrunch has more here.

Razer, the U.S. and Singapore-based gaming hardware maker that’s backed byIntel and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, plans to launch an IPO on Monday in Hong Kong that could raise up to $550 million. Reuters has more here.

Zscaler, a nine-year-old, San Jose, Calif.-based company, has filed confidentially for an IPO, reports TechCrunch. The cloud security outfit is aiming to go public before the end of the year. More here.

People

Foundation Capital is adding two new entrepreneurs-in-residence: Natalia Burina, previously a director of product at both Salesforce and Parable, is joining to work with companies focused on enterprise AI, consumer mobile, and marketplaces; Nick Soman, previously a product lead at Gusto, will be working on blockchain-related projects.

John Gaeta, a visual effects supervisor on The Matrix and the creator of Lucasfilm’s immersive entertainment division ILMxLab, is joining low-flying, Florida-based augmented reality start-up Magic Leap.

Chris Leavy, a former Blackrock executive, is raising one of the biggest marijuana funds yet.

Alibaba Group’s Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai is buying 49 percent of the Brooklyn Nets from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov in a deal that values the NBA team club at a record $2.3 billion.

The AI ambitions of tech giant Baidu just suffered another blow as Lin Yuanqing, head of its Institution of Deep Learning (IDL), has left the company.

Data

U.S. iPhone users will spend an average of $88 per year on paid apps and in-app purchases by 2020, according to a new forecast out this week from Sensor Tower.More here.

How Americans really feel about FacebookApple, and more (survey).

Essential Reads

The SEC has for the first time taken action against a privately held Silicon Valley “unicorn” startup — Zenefits — for misleading its investors. Buzzfeed has more here.

WhatsApp is finally allowing users to recall messages sent by mistake.

Waymo says it’ll begin testing its self-driving cars in snowy Detroit.

Meet the high schooler shaking up artificial intelligence.

Detours

Oh. My. Gourd.

Things that should come with trial periods.

Fair accusation of sexual harassment or witch hunt?

Retail Therapy

A “Stranger Things” Christmas sweater. Buying.




StrictlyVC: October 26, 2017

Thursday (already!).

Top News in the A.M.

COME. ON.

Twitter said today it could turn its first-ever profit, and its shares surged on the news.<

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Women of DFJ Push Back on Claims that “Predatory Behavior” is “Rampant”

Several women who either work at venture firm DFJ or have worked for the 30-year-old outfit in the past are pushing back against new allegations that founders should be wary of approaching the firm owing to “predatory behavior” that is “rampant.”

Yesterday, The Information reported that Steve Jurvetson, a cofounder of DFJ, is being investigated for sexual harassment, as told to it by the Menlo Park-based firm. DFJ says it launched an investigation in August after rumors began swirling about him.

Said longtime DFJ employee Carol Wentworth to the outlet, “[E]arly this summer we became aware of indirect and secondhand allegations about Steve Jurvetson and we immediately opened an independent investigation, which is ongoing at this time,” she added.

Asked for comment earlier today, Wentworth would only share the same statement.

It isn’t clear if the investigation is tied — or tied exclusively — to Keri Kukral, founder of a company called Raw Science. But she wrote on Tuesday on Facebook post that “women approached by founding partners of Draper Fisher Jurvetson should be careful. Predatory behavior is rampant.” She added that “silencing behavior ranges from security w/in the firm creating files on women, to potential violations of revenge porn laws, to grotesque threats.”

Kukral also wrote, somewhat cryptically, that “women have been banned by heads of TED from attending conferences. I have experienced some (not all) of these things along with many others. The situation I found myself in is personally atypical and I’ve not been in any other situation remotely like it. I was not seeking investment or trying to further my career. My investment rounds have occurred entirely outside of Silicon Valley both before and after this experience. I will not step foot in SV for investment.”

Kukral had a personal relationship with Jurvetson a couple of years ago, a source tells us. Kukral had added in subsequent comments to her post that her experience was not in a professional context.

The founding partners of DFJ are Tim Draper, who left the firm two years ago, Steve Jurvetson, and John Fisher, who remains on DFJ’s growth team.
In the meantime, writing on her personal site this morning, Heidi Roizen, who has been a partner with the firm since early 2012, didn’t mince words about the firm’s culture, saying that “[S]imply put, I would not work for DFJ if I felt the culture was not one of high integrity and opportunity for all — including women.  Including me.”

Two other women — Annie Hazlehurst, a former DFJ employee who today runs her own science and software-focused venture firm in New York, and another former DFJ employee named Courtney McColgan, who is today the cofounder and CEO of Runa, a Mexico City-based HR software startup — have also weighed in to come to DFJ’s defense, and that of Jurvetson.

More here.

New Fundings

Amastan Technologies, a three-year-old, North Andover, Ma.-based company whose microwave plasma tech aims to disrupt traditional chemical processes for producing advanced powders and materials, raised $13.85 million in Series B funding. Anzu Partners led the round, with participation from Material Impact,RKS VenturesKLP Ventures and LaunchCapitalMore here.

Amperity, a year-old, Seattle-based company using machine learning to create customer profiles for global brands, has raised $28 million in Series B funding. Tiger Global Management led the round, and was joined by Madrona Venture Group. GeekWire has more here.

Brainly, an eight-year-old, Kraków, Poland-based peer-to-peer learning platform for students, has raised $14 million in new funding led by Kulczyk Investments, with participation from earlier backers NaspersGeneral CatalystPoint Nine Capital, and Runa Capital. VentureBeat has more here.

Connatix, a four-year-old, New York-based video tech provider and syndication platform for content publishers, has raised $15 million in growth equity funding led by Volition CapitalMore here.

Credit Sesame, a seven-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based personalized credit service, has raised more than $42 million in equity and venture debt, including from new and earlier backers Menlo VenturesInventus CapitalGlobespan Capital,IA Capital, and SF Capital. Crowdfund Insider has more here.

Current, a two-year-old, New York City-based startup selling a debit card and companion smartphone app for teens, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by QED Investors, with participation from Cota Capital and ExpaMore here.

Genus AI, a London-based artificial intelligence startup (that hasn’t been super specific about what it’s working on), has raised $1 million in funding led by Picus Capital, with participation from numerous angel investors. Tech.eu has more here.

Homelyfe, a year-old, London-based insurance product purchase manager, has raised $2.8 million in seed funding co-led by Talis Capital and Peterson VenturesMore here.

JazzHR, an eight-year-old, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based recruiting software startup for small and medium-size businesses, has raised $6.6 million in funding led byVolition Capital, with participation from Birchmere Ventures and Rincon Venture PartnersMore here.

Ninebot, a five-year-old, Beijing-based short-distance electric transportation maker, has raised $100 million in Series C funding, including from SDIC Fund Management Company and the China Mobile Fund. In 2015, Ninebot merged the Segway, the U.S. company. China Money Network has more here.

Menusifu, a four-year-old, New York-based restaurant software startup, has raised $3 million in Series A funding led by Amino Capital and joined by Jubilee Capital Management. DealStreetAsia has more here.

Orchid Labs, a months-old, San Francisco-based developer of a new blockchain-based protocol, has raised $4.7 million in seed funding from an investor group that includes Sequoia CapitalAndreessen HorowitzDFJPolychain Capital,MetastableBlockchain CapitalCrunchfundStruck CapitalCompound andOpen Ocean (a newer European VC fund). Axios has more here.

Pollen Metrology, a Moirans, France-based maker of smart process-control software to accelerate the manufacturing high performing materials, has raised £2.4 million ($3.2 million) in funding, including from XAnge and KREAXIMore here.

Scoutible, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based video game-based artificial intelligence for hiring, has raised $5 million in seed funding led by Learn Capitaland Mark Cuban, with participation from Great Oaks, New Enterprise AssociatesStanford StartX Fund, and Mindset VenturesMore here.

Skybox Security, a 15-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based cybersecurity analytics company, has raised $150 million in new funding led by CVC Capital Partners. Reuters has more here.

Snapcart, a two-year-old, Indonesia-based cashback app, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Vickers Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers Wavemaker Partners and SPH Ventures and new investors Social CapitalKickstart Ventures and Endeavor Catalysts. Tech in Asia has more here.

Stardog Union, a 12-year-old, Arlington, Va.-based enterprise data unification platform, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Grotech Ventures, with participation from Core Capital and Boulder Ventures.

Umbo Computer Vision, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based AI startup and maker of autonomous video security products, has raised $6.8 million in Series A funding led by CDIB Venture Capital Corp, with participation from AppWorks VenturesMesh Ventures, and Substance CapitalMore here.

Ursa Space Systems, a three-year-old, Ithaca, New York-based satellite analytics-as- a-service company, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Paladin Capital Group, with participation from New Enterprise AssociatesRRE VenturesS&P Global, and other strategic investors. Space News has more here.

New Funds

GSR Ventures, a firm set up by Chinese tech entrepreneurs in 2004, is looking to raise up to $325 million for its sixth fund, shows an SEC filing.

ING Ventures has raised €300 million ($354 million) for its fourth, fintech focused, fund. Banking Technology has more here.

Fifteen-year-old, L.A.-based Kayne Partners says it has closed its fourth growth equity fund with $385 million in capital commitments. More here.

IPOs

Legacy Acquisition, a blank check company formed by former Proctor & Gamble executives, filed for an IPO yesterday. The Cincinnati, Oh.-based company plans to raise $300 million. Nasdaq has (a little) more here.

scPharmaceuticals, a three-year-old, Burlington, Ma.-based company behind a subcutaneous delivery device and drug candidate, intends to raise $100 million in an IPO according to an S-1 filing. The company is part of a new trend around repurposing existing drugs for easier delivery. 5AM VenturesLundbeckfond Invest, and OrbiMed are among its biggest outside shareholders.

Unraveling the world’s largest IPO, Saudi Aramco (video). And more here, in the New York Times.

Exits

Apple acquired PowerbyProxi, a New Zealand-based company that designs wireless power products for consumers and industry, for undisclosed terms. PowerbyProxi had raised approximately $9 million in venture funding, including fromSamsung VenturesMovac, and TE Connectivity. Reuters has more here.

The publicly traded cloud service provider ServiceNow is acquiring SkyGiraffe, a five-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based enterprise mobility platform that had raised at $10.5 million, shows Crunchbase. Its backers include SGVC and Trilogy Equity Partners. ZDNet has more here.

Smith & Nephew, the London-based multinational medical equipment company, is buying Rotation Medical, an eight-year-old, Plymouth, Mn.-based sports injury business, for up to $210 million. Rotation Medical had raised $56 million in funding, including from New Enterprise Associates, Pappas Ventures, and Life Sciences Partners. Seeking Alpha has more here.

People

David DeWalt, former CEO of the cybersecurity software company FireEye, has joined Allegis Capital as its newest managing director. Allegis is also changing its name to Allegiscyber and opening up an office in Maryland, where it can more actively invest in East Coast companies.

The plot thickens: Hong Ge, the vice president of Airbnb’s China division, who resigned earlier this week after just four months on the job, appears to have left owing to allegations about an inappropriate personal relationship between him and a subordinate, reports The Informatiion.

The California Supreme Court yesterday declined to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that determined billionaire Vinod Khosla must allow public access to Martins Beach in San Mateo County. (Thank you, judges. Khosla should have ended this fight a long time ago. What a PR disaster.)

Keith Noreika, the first banking regulator installed by the Trump administration, is reportedly undoing consumer protections to help his former, and future, clients. The agency chief is a “temporary employee,” an unprecedented twist that protects him from scrutiny over conflicts of interest. The WSJ has more here.

Billionaire Peter Thiel said earlier today at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that people are “underestimating” bitcoin, which he sees as a reserve form of money. “[I]t’s like gold, and it’s just a store of value. You don’t need to use it to make payments,” Thiel said. “If bitcoin ends up being the cyber equivalent of gold it has a great potential left.”

Essential Reads

A new lawsuit claims that Uber pays female engineers, and some engineers of color, less than male, white, and Asian-American counterparts. The complaint states that Uber’s biannual “stack ranking” system is invalid, arbitrary, and forces different outcomes between employees “regardless of whether there are meaningful performance differences between individual employees within a particular peer group.” Ars Technica has more here.

More on how FacebookGoogle and Twitter employees helped Donald Trump win the U.S. presidential election.

Now you can buy a car on Facebook.

Detours

Couples’ costumes so bad, they’re good.

Director James Toback is now being accused of sexual harassment, too.

Retail Therapy

$1.3 million bathtub, when you have more money than you know what to do with, evidently.




StrictlyVC: October 25, 2017

Wednesday!

Top News in the A.M.

Steve Jurvetson, a cofounder of DFJ, is being investigated for sexual harassment, according to The Information. A spokeswoman tells that outlet that it has “never received a complaint about the professional conduct of any of our partners or investment professionals” but based on “indirect and second-hand allegations about Steve Jurvetson” opened an “independent investigation, which is ongoing at this time.” It isn’t clear if the investigation is tied to founder Keri Kukral, but she wrote yesterday https://www.facebook.com/keri.kukral in Facebook post that “women approached by founding partners of Draper Fisher Jurvetson should be careful. Predatory behavior is rampant.” Kukral had a personal relationship with Jurvetson, a source tells The Information. She added in subsequent comments to her post that her experience was not in a professional context.

Tesla just fired hundreds more workers, this time at SolarCity, citing performance reviews. But the workers say planned performance reviews never happened. CNBC has more here.

Donald Trump does not intend to appoint National Economic Council Director (and former Goldman Sachs president) Gary Cohn to lead the Federal Reserve, three people tell Bloomberg this morning. In fact, says Bloomberg, Trump has remarked in at least one private meeting that Cohn has no chance. (So, who knows, basically.)

Sponsored By . . .

You can have it both ways. Work with a PR partner that delivers high-level results without the B.S. or fluff. At FLIGHT, we build long-term relationships with our clients and focus on smart visibility that grows their business. Visit us at www.flightpr.com or say hello@flightpr.com. Woman-owned and operated, with offices in Silicon Beach and Austin.

Social Capital is Now Investing in Startups Sight Unseen

There’s little question that former Facebook executive and venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya thoroughly enjoys challenging the way that startups are funded. Because he has the hot hand, so to speak, he’s able to get away with it, too.

Last month, for example, Palihapitiya’s firm, Social Capital, took the unusual step of raising $600 million in an IPO for a SPAC called Social Capital Hedosophia. The shell company will use the money to acquire all or part of a privately held tech company, thereby taking it public and circumventing what Palihapitiya sees as the unnecessarily long, expensive and distracting process of going public.

Now, Social Capital has another trick up its sleeve. It’s beginning to invest in far-flung startups, sight unseen.

Entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world can fill out a questionnaire, then submit revenue figures and either raw engagement or transaction logs (or both) to Social Capital, including sometimes by granting the firm direct access to the cloud services they use. It’s entirely self-serve. If Social Capital likes what it sees, it will write a check of up to $250,000. If it doesn’t, it will at least deliver feedback to the startup regarding tweaks it might make to its business model. (Entrepreneurs interested in applying can let the firm know here.)

How can Social Capital possibly know how to improve a company’s business model when it hasn’t even met its founders?

More here.

New Fundings

AMOpportunities, a four-year-old, Chicago-based platform that brings international medical trainees to the U.S. for short-term medical training, has raised $1.1 million in financing led by OCA Ventures and HealthX VenturesMore here.

ChowNow, a seven-year-old, L.A.-based online food ordering service, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Catalyst Investors. The round brings ChowNow’s total funding to nearly $40 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Convargo, a 1.5-year-old, Paris-based marketplace for shippers and carriers that enables both sides to connect and send goods across France more efficiently, has raised $19 million in Series A funding led by Inventure Partners and Earlybird, with participation from numerous individual investors, including Nest Labs cofounderTony Fadell. TechCrunch has more here.

Deserve, a 4.5-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based company that makes credit products for international students and college-age teeneagers, has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Accel Partners, with participation from Aspect VenturesMission Holdings and others. The company was formerly called SelfScore. TechCrunch has more here.

Echo, a two-year-old, London-based startup whose app helps users manage their medication and order repeat prescriptions for delivery, has raised £7 million in Series A funding led by White Star Capital, with participation from MMC VenturesLocalGlobe, and Rocket Internet’s Global Founders CapitalMore here.

GuestReady, a year-old, London-based service for Airbnb hosts wanting to manage their property, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Impulse VC (a Russian fund that’s backed by billionaire Roman Abramovich), with participation from Australia’s Xponova and Boost Heroes, a VC led by Lastminute founder Fabio Cannavale. Existing backers also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.

Jiko, a 1.5-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based debit card banking startup, has raised $7.7 million in Series A funding from Upfront VenturesRadical ImpactSocial Capital and others. TechCrunch has more here.<

Klook, a three-year-old, Hong Kong-based travel startup that specializes in helping travelers book trip activities and logistics for when they are overseas, has raised $60 million in Series C funding led by earlier backer Sequoia Capital, with participation from Matrix Partners (also an earlier backer). The money comes just six months after Klook closed its Series B round with $30 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Reflektion, a five-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based marketing startup that uses predictive analytics to increase conversion rates on e-commerce sites, has raised $12 million in additional Series B fund. SAP founder Hasso Plattner led the round, with participation from returning investors Battery Ventures and Clear Ventures. Reflektion has now raised $41.3 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

Draper Espirit, the publicly listed venture firm in London, has said it planned to invest in other early-stage venture firms in Europe. Now it has taken those plans a step further, buying outright the first two funds of Seedcamp, an investing outfit in the U.K., for $23.6 million. It will manage out the assets from both, reports TechCrunch. More here.

Not a new fund exactly, but it’s worth noting that Weibo, the Beijing-based, Twitter-like Chinese social network, is raising $700 million as it looks for acquisitions to continue the growth its business has seen this year. The publicly traded company, which is majority owned by Alibaba and the media company Sina, is listed on Nasdaq and currently enjoys a $21 billion market cap. TechCrunch has more here.

People

DoorDash CFO Mike Dinsdale has left the company less than a year after he joined, TechCrunch has learned. The food ordering and delivery startup is actively looking for a replacement. More here.<

Ronnie Gurion — whose LinkedIn profile states that he has been leading Airbnb’s international business development efforts since April of last year — has quietly stepped down to become the chief strategy officer at the competing vacation rental platform HomeAway. More here.

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is claiming that his Vision Fund has already bagged $3 billion in profit. It’s  all on paper at this point, but hey, no one likes a stickler.

Grab, Uber’s chief rival in Southeast Asia, finally has a new CTO more than two years after its previous one departed. Today the company introduced Theo Vassilakis, a former Googler who also spent time with Microsoft, as its second ever CTO. TechCrunch has more here.<

Jobs

Foundry Group, the Boulder, Co.-based early-stage venture firm, is hiring a general counsel. This individual will be responsible for all legal activities of the fund and work with portfolio companies on select issues. More here.

Data

The Silicon Valley executive search firm Lonergan Partners has just published a new “Who Runs the Valley” type survey, focused on C-suite execs at the biggest publically traded companies in the region. It has some interesting info, including the average age of incoming CEOs, how long CEOs who were replaced last year had been in their roles, and what percentage had previous experience running public companies. One alarming observation: all incoming CEOs were male. You can check it out here.

Essential Reads

Uber just launched a credit card.

Square, the Twitter boss’s other company, could soon pass it in value.

Detours

The art world star you’ve never heard of.

“Tiny House Hunters” and the shrinking American dream.

The surprising history of “OMG.”

Retail Therapy

Smallbirds, for those too young to work in tech (for now).




StrictlyVC: October 24, 2017

Hi, all, happy Tuesday!

Top News

Over the summer, two women filed complaints with the state of California against Uber for allegedly paying them less than men in similar roles. The previously unreported claims just came to light through a public records request by The Information. More here.

Sponsored By . . .

You can have it both ways. Work with a PR partner that delivers high-level results without the B.S. or fluff. At FLIGHT, we build long-term relationships with our clients and focus on smart visibility that grows their business. Visit us at www.flightpr.com or say hello@flightpr.com. Woman-owned and operated, with offices in Silicon Beach and Austin.

Airbnb Just Lost the Exec It Hired to Lead Its China Biz

China is a tough nut to crack, no matter how much money U.S.-based companies have to throw at it.

That was the overarching takeaway last night, given the news — first reported by Bloomberg — that Hong Ge is abandoning his post as the head of Airbnb’s China business for a new, as-yet-undisclosed opportunity.

Why does the departure matter? For starters, Ge was appointed to the role just four months ago. Further, Bloomberg says the company had struggled since 2015 to recruit a business chief, finally turning within and hiring Ge. He’d originally joined the company at its Bay Area headquarters last year, and earlier spent more than four years at both Facebook and Google as an engineer.

Kum Hong Siew, the current president of China operations, will take over the role in an interim capacity. Last week, the company also announced that co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk would become chairman of Airbnb’s China arm, spending half his time on business there and making monthly trips to the country from the U.S.

Airbnb, which goes by the name of Aibiying (it means “welcome each other with love”), faces fierce competition from local startups, including Tujia.com, which is backed by China’s largest online travel agent, and fast-growing Xiaozhu.com.

All are further dealing with tough regulatory challenges in China, where, as Reuters notes, movement between cities is watched closely and people must register temporary stays with local police.

We were unable to reach Ge for comment for this story, but this looks like a setback on its face.

More here.

New Fundings

Averon, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based developer of a mobile identity verification standard, has raised $8.3 million in Series A funding led by Avalon VenturesMore here.

Blickfeld, a 1.5-year-old, Munich-based startup developing a LiDAR system to let autonomous vehicles “see,” has raised $4.25 million in seed funding. The round was led by Fluxunit (the corporate venture arm of lighting company Osram), High-Tech GründerfondsTengelmann Ventures, and Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Derq, a 1.5-year-old, Dubai-based startup aiming to reduce vehicle accidents by improving how cars and infrastructure talk to each other, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from Techstars Mobility Accelerator. TechCrunch has more here.

Doctorlink, a 1.5-year-old, U.K.-based startup that provides surgeons with a clinically approved digital triage and advice tool, has quietly raised an undisclosed amount of funding over the last 12 months, including £20 million from Eight Roads, the proprietary investment arm of Fidelity International. TechCrunch has more here.

Gro Intelligence, a three-year-old, New York-based agricultural data analytics startup, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A2 funding led by TPG Growth, with participation from Data CollectiveMore here.

HashiCorp, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based datacenter management tools company,, announced $40 million in Series C funding from its earlier backers, including GGV CapitalRedpointMayfield and True Ventures. The company has now raised $74 million altogether. More here.

iAdvize, a seven-year-old, Nantes, France-based customer engagement platform, has raised another $37.6 million from IdinvestBpifrance and Quadrille Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Kindred, a 2.5-year-old, Vancouver-based company aiming to create human-like intelligence in machines, has raised $28 million in Series B funding led by Tencent, with participation from previous investors Eclipse Ventures and First Round Capital. The company has now raised $44 million altogether. Betakit has more here.

KnowBe4, a seven-year-old, Tampa Bay, Fla.-based security awareness training and simulated phishing platform, has raised $30 million in new funding led by Goldman Sachs Growth Equity, with participation from earlier investor Elephant. (Kevin Mitnick, an internationally recognized computer security expert, is the company’s chief hacking officer.) More here.

NeuroPace, an 18-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based developer of a neurostimulation system that can monitor and respond to brain activity with the aim of reducing seizure frequency, has raised $74 million in new  funding co-led by KCK Group and OrbiMed. Reuters has more here.

Nimble Pharmacy, a three-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based prescription drug delivery startup, has raised $28 million in new funding led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from Y CombinatorFirst Round CapitalDAG Ventures and Khosla Ventures. CNBC has more here.

OpenIO, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based object storage company, has raised $5 million from Elaia PartnersPartech Ventures and Nord France Amorçage. TechCrunch has more here.

Shift Technology, a four-year-old, Paris-based software-as-a-service that uses artificial intelligence to detect patterns and flag fraudulent insurance claims, is raising a $28 million Series B round from earlier backer Accel Partners, along with General Catalyst Partners. Other earlier backers, Elaia Partners and Iris Capital, are also participating in the round. TechCrunch has more here.

Trimian, a two-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based company whose app, mia Contacts, aims to make it easier for users to figure out that right person to connect with, has raised $3 million in funding led by Spark Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Unikrn, a three-year-old, Seattle-based e-sports betting startup, has raised roughly $31 million in an initial coin offering. Celebrity investor Mark Cuban had participated in a pre-sale for the offering. CoinDesk has more here.

Wibbitz, a six-year-old, New York-based startup that uses artificial intelligence to create short videos based on text news stories, has raised $20 million in Series C funding, including from Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments and participation from The Weather ChannelThe Associated Press and TF1. Previous backers NantMobilelool Ventures and Horizons Ventures also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.

People

AppDynamics co-founder Jyoti Bansal (you might remember he sold his company to Cisco in January for $3.7 billion) is back with a news startup called Harness. Its aim: to automate continuous code deployment. TechCrunch has more here.

And a switcheroo at Hulu: Mike Hopkins, the former 21st Century Fox executive who has been running the company since 2013, is leaving to run Sony TV. Randy Freer, another Fox executive who has been president and chief operating officer of that company’s TV business, is Hulu’s new top dog. Recode has more here.

Jobs

London-based venture firm Seraphim Capital is looking to bring aboard an investor director to help it source and lead deals for its new, $95 million space fund. Experienced applicants should write to info@seraphimcapital.co.uk.

Data

Since the beginning of 2015, U.S.-based fintech startups have pulled in roughly $18 billion across nearly 1,400 deals with venture participation, per PitchBook. Here are the 11 most valuable of them.

Essential Reads

Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Public Investment Fund is poised to become one of the world’s biggest investors. But the fund is troubled by disappointing investments, including in Uber Technologies, says the WSJ. In fact, says the report, the fund’s chairman has been pushing back against parts of a deal with the biggest PIF partner, SoftBank Group, that could cut Uber’s value, which would force the Saudi fund to take a loss. More here.

Snap‘s internal data shows that well under half of Spectacles owners continued to use the camera-equipped sunglasses after just four weeks, reports Business Insider. More here.

Detours

A grain that tastes like wheat but grows like prairie grass.

Quiz: Which Mexican border-wall prototype is the worst?

Retail Therapy

The iPhone X. It’ll be available for walk-in customers to Apple stores who get there early enough on Friday, November 3.




StrictlyVC: October 23, 2017

No column today. We’re too busy digesting all the super creepy happenings in Silicon Valley of late. At this rate, we’ll need to add a new section soon called “Police Blotter.”  Check out “People” for more.

Also, happy Monday.:)

Top News

Amazon just spent more than it ever has in a single quarter lobbying the federal government, at $3.41 million. The (Jeff Bezos-owned) Washington Post has more here.

Your Chariot awaits (again).

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New Fundings

Abra, a three-year-old. Mountain View, Ca.-based bitcoin-based digital wallet app that’s primarily focused on foreign exchanges, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Foxconn, with participation from Silver8 Capital, Ignia and earlier backers Arbor Ventures, American Express, Jungle Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures and RRE Ventures.

ActionIQ, a three-year-old, New York-based marketing platform that aims to give marketers better audience insights in order to run their campaigns more effectively, has raised $30 million in Series B funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. Earlier backers Sequoia Capital and Firstmark Capital also joined the round, along with new strategic investor, Shutterstock.

ADC Therapeutics, a six-year-old, Lausanne, Switzerland-based biotech company that’s developing antibody drug conjugates that target cancer, has raised $200 million from investors, including AstraZeneca, Auven Therapeutics, Redmile and the Wild Family Office.

Automile, a four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based platform that’s connecting vehicle drivers and fleet managers with vehicle data, has raised $34 million in a Series B funding round led by Insight Venture Partners.

Blue Medora, a 10-year-old, Grand Rapids, Mi.-based company whose software helps administrator teams work collaboratively on a company’s infrastructure to avoid downtime and make predictive insights, has raised $8 million in Series B funding led by the Chicago-based venture capital firm First Analysis. Earlier backers Wakestream Ventures, Lewis and Clark Ventures, and eLab Ventures also joined the round.

CountingUp, a 5-month-old, London-based company aiming to merge banking and accounting software to make the lives of freelancers and sole-person enterprises easier, has raised £750k ($1 million) in seed funding from Frontline Ventures and others.

DeePhi, 1.5-year-old, Beijing, China-based AI startup at work on neural network compression technology and neural network hardware architecture, has raised an undisclosed amount of money from Samsung Group, according to Chinese media reports.

Eargo, a four-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based hearing aid maker, is raising $45 million in Series C funding led by Nan Fung Life Sciences, with participation from New Enterprise Associates, Maveron and Charles and Helen Schwab.

EchoPixel, a five-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based maker of interactive VR software for healthcare professionals, has raised $8.5 million in Series A funding led by Intel Capital, with participation from LAM Research, with participation from Aurus Capital, Runa Capital and Harris & Harris Group.

Equinom, a five-year-old, Israel-based seed breeding startup focused on developing specialized crops for the food industry, has raised $4 million from Fortissimo Capital.

Intezer, a two-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based company that makes malware analysis and detection software, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Intel Capital, with participation from Magma and Samung NEXT.

Mya Systems, five-year-old, San Francisco-based company that makes AI-driven recruiting software, has raised $18 million in Series B funding led by Foundation Capital, with participation from Emergence Capital.

Nested, a 1.5-year-old, London-based estate agent that provides a cash advance to help customers buy a new house before they’ve sold their old one, has raised £36 million ($47.5  million) in funding that brings its total capital raised to just shy of £50 million. The round was led by Rocket Internet’s Global Founders Capital.

Solvvy, a four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based machine-learning-driven customer service platform that aims to more efficiently and affordably improve customer satisfaction, has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Scale Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers Pear Ventures, Signatures Capital and True Ventures. The company has now raised $16.5 million altogether.

Winnow, four-year-old, London-based startup that whose smart kitchen tech helps commercial kitchens reduce food waste, has raised $7.4 million in new funding from Circularity Capital, as well as earlier investors Mustard Seed and D-Ax.

Zero, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose credit card acts like a debit card, has raised $8.5 million in funding led by ENIAC Ventures, with participation from New Enterprise Associates and Lightbank.

Zuzu Hospitality Solutions, a 1.5-year-old, Singapore-based startup that sells revenue management software and marketing services to small hotels, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Wavemaker Partners, with participation from other Southeast Asian venture capital firms Golden Gate Ventures, Alpha JWC and Convergence Ventures.

New Funds

CapHorn Invest, a seven-year-old, Paris-based venture firm, has closed on $150 million in capital commitments for its second fund. The outfit says it plans to focus on Series A rounds, investing anywhere from $600,000 to $6 million into its portfolio companies. TechCrunch has more here.

Dah Chong Hong Holdings, a Hong Kong-listed distributor and dealer of motor vehicles in Greater China, said it plans to partner with its parent company, a subsidiary of CITIC, to establish an investment fund to back consumer and healthcare companies. As China Money Network notes, the Asian market for consumer goods and healthcare products is large and growing rapidly, driven by rising demand from an increasingly affluent middle class across Greater China and Southeast Asia. More here.

Forerunner Ventures is raising around $55 million for a fund that will make follow-on investments in existing portfolio companies, says Axios. Forerunner had closed its third early-stage fund with at least $122 million last year.

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Exits

Cisco said today that it’s shelling out $1.9 billion to acquire BroadSoft, a Maryland company that delivers unified communications via service providers. Broadsoft had gone public in 2010 after raising more than $77 million from investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Hearsay Systems, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based company that helps financial services clients compliantly use social media, websites, text and email to engage with their customers, has acquired the tech and intellectual property of Mast Mobile, whose four-year-old, startup that allowed businesses to manage work and personal numbers on a single mobile phone. Terms aren’t being disclosed, but Mast had raised $7 million in 2015 led by FirstMark Capital. (We’d written about the company here.)

WeWork, the behemoth co-working company valued at $20 billion, says it has acquired the five-year-old, coding education platform Flatiron School. Flatiron had raised more than $14 million, including from Thrive Capital, Matrix Partners, and CRV. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it’s worth noting that coding bootcamps have been struggling of late, having expanded too fast. More here.

People

Magaly Charbonneau has joined the Montreal-based venture firm iNovia as a principal. She worked most recently as a business development specialist at Intel Security Group, More here.

Yes, that secret twitter account actually does belong to former FBI director James Comey.

Susan Fowler — the former Uber engineer whose post about the company’s culture led to the ouster of cofounding CEO Travis Kalanick — has an interesting backstory, as revealed to Maureen Dowd of the New York Times.

Tech entrepreneur Zain Jaffer, the founder of the six-year-old mobile ad video company Vungle, has been being arrested on a slew of charges, including a lewd act upon a child and assault with a deadly weapon. The alleged victim was his three-year-old son, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. Jaffer was CEO; he has been replaced by the company’s COO and CFO. TechCrunch has more here.

B Capital Group, a global venture capital firm co-led by Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin, has brought aboard Howard Morgan, cofounder of First Round Capital, as its chairman, and Joe Davis, the North American Chairman for BCG, as the firm’s vice chairman. Dealbook has more here.

Tom Preston-Werner — who resigned from his role as CEO and co-founder of GitHub following an investigation into allegations of harassment and intimidation of a female employee by he and his wife — is back with a new startup, Chatterbug. More here.

An influential tech evangelist known in Silicon Valley circles, Robert Scoble, has apologized for bad behavior that he claims occurred when he had a drinking problem. But several TechCrunch sources say he has continued to sexually harass women in the industry.

Grace Yun Xia has joined the Singapore-based venture firm Jungle Ventures as an investor. She was previously a senior director for corporate strategy and development with Tencent.

Jobs

The 10-person investment team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is looking to hire a principal-level person. The job is in Seattle.

Essential Reads

Snap badly overestimated demand for its Spectacles and now has hundreds of thousands of unsold units sitting in warehouses, either fully assembled or in parts, according to The Information, which goes on to suggest the disclosure “undercuts Snap CEO Evan Spiegel’s recent contention that Spectacles sales of more than 150,000 had topped the company’s expectations.” More here.

Why Facebook should not be allowed to buy tbh, a deal that TechCrunch reported on last week.

Amazon is receiving pitches from Detroit, Boston, Pittsburgh and many other U.S. cities that hope want to become home to its second headquarters. Here are some of the video pitches the e-commerce juggernaut has received so far.

Detours

Dogs pay attention to your looks.

The man who dresses Melania Trump.

The second season of “Stranger Things” lives up its expectations, says Gizmodo.

Retail Therapy

Buy your own bunker. (If we could afford it, we would.)




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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.