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StrictlyVC: January 23, 2017

Hi, everyone, what a weekend! We weren’t able to march on Saturday, but we’re still amazed and moved by the siblings, cousins, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, (grandchildren!), friends and readers who joined marches all over the U.S. and the world. Here are pictures from every continent.

No column today. (We officially have the flu at this point.)

Top News in the A.M.

President Trump formally abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership earlier today, pulling away from Asia and scrapping President Obama’s most significant trade deal on his first full weekday in office. Dealbook has more here.

In news that probably won’t endear Silicon Valley to the rest of the country, LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman estimates that half of tech billionaires have a secret home to which they can escape if American political stability falls to shambles.

New Fundings

Adaptemy, a three-year-old, Dublin, Ireland-based adaptive learning startup, has raised more than €3 million ($3.2 million) in funding. Backers included Folens Publishers and Enterprise Ireland. More here.

Atlas Genetics, a 12-year-old, Bath, England-based company that develops ultra-rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests for infectious diseases, has raised $35 million in Series D funding from earlier backers Novartis Venture Funds, Consort Medical, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, LSP, BB Biotech Ventures, RMI Partners and Technology Venture Partners. Wondfo Biotech, a Chinese in-vitro diagnostic company, also joined the round as a first-time investor. FierceBiotech has more here.

Cuemath, a five-year-old, Bangalore, India-based education company that pairs students with Cuemath teachers across what it hopes will someday be a network of 5,000 centers, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by CapitalG and earlier backer Sequoia IndiaMore here.

EasyMile, a 2.5-year-old, Toulouse, France-based start-up that’s developing an electric driverless shuttle (and, notably, is a joint venture between vehicle manufacturer Ligier Group and the services robotics company Robosoft), has raised €$14 million ($15 million) from Alstom, an integrated railways systems company. More here.

Habito, a London-based digital mortgage broker, has raised £5.5 million ($6.9 million) in Series A funding led by Ribbit Capital, with participation from existing investor Mosaic Ventures. Tech City News has more here.

Lobster, a three-year-old, London-based content marketplace where ad agency customers can buy or license social media created by individuals, has raised £1 million in Series A funding, including from KL10CH, a tech hub co-working space in Moscow, and Nikolay Katorzhnov, the former CEO of Otkritie Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Lumus, a 16-year-old, Israel-based augmented reality lens maker, has raised $6 million from Alibaba. GeekTime has more here.

The Noodle Companies, a 6.5-year-old, New York-based family of education technology companies, has raised $5 million in Series A funding from SWaN & Legend Venture Partners. The company was founded by John Katzman, who helped build the Princeton Review, among other companies. EdSurge has more here.

Pitchero, a 10-year-old, Leeds, England-based startup that makes it easy for amateur and grassroots sports clubs to build a web presence and move their communities online, has raised £3.1 million ($3.9 million) in Series A funding led by ICM, a global fund manager with other sports interests. TechCrunch has more here.

Raze, a young, Beverly Hills, Ca.-based digital media company that plans to produce “Latin-centered” content across multiple platforms, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding from UTA, Greycroft Partners and Raine Ventures. Raze was cofounded by actress Sofia Vergara, her longtime business partner Luis Balaguer, and Emiliano Calemzuk, a former president of Fox Television Studios. Variety has more here.

Talentoday, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco, Ca.-based human resources tech startup, has raised $3.49 million in Series A funding led by The Adecco Group, a maker of workforce software. More here.

Tricentis, a 10-year-old, Vienna, Austria-based startup that helps enterprise development teams automate software testing, has received $165 million in funding from Insight Venture Partners. More here.

TrustPilot, a 10-year-old, Copenhagen, Denmark-based multi-language online merchant review community, has raised $6.9 million (£5.5 million) in fresh funding from earlier backer Draper Esprit. The company had previously raised at least $116 million in funding, shows Crunchbase. More here.

Whistle Sports, a three-year-old, London-based digital entertainment media company, has raised $27.5 million in Series C funding from Beringea, TEGNA, NBC Sports Ventures, Sky and Emil Capital. More here.

New Funds

Atomic Management, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup studio that comes up with ideas and then builds and funds its startups from scratch, has raised $20 million for its first fund, including from investors Marc Andreessen and Peter Thiel. Already, says the WSJ, the firm has created six startups that employ 300 people and which have collectively raised $100 million in follow-on funding, including the Wi-Fi marketing startup Zenreach. More here.

China has set up a $14.6 billion fund to support investment in the internet sector, said official news agency Xinhua on Sunday. The fund, backed by China’s cabinet, is designed to help turn China into a major player in internet technology. Reuters has more here.


Bang With Friends, a controversial dating app that was later rebranded as Down, has been acquired by the Singapore-based dating startup Paktor for what TechCrunch says is several million dollars. Down had raised just $1 million from investors, including Tim Draper. Paktor has raised more than $50 million. More here.

IBM Security announced this morning that it has purchased Agile 3 Solutions, a San Francisco-based company that has developed a security analytics dashboard aimed at helping executives understand cyber-security risks inside an organization. Terms aren’t being disclosed. In the meantime, we’re not seeing funding information for Agile 3. (If you’re an investor, let us know.) TechCrunch has more here.


Amplify Partners, an enterprise-focused early-stage venture firm in Menlo Park, Ca., has promoted David Beyer to partner and brought aboard Lenny Pruss as partner. Beyer joined Amplify in 2013 as principal; Pruss was most recently a principal with Redpoint Ventures. More here.

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is losing its head of international, Hugo Barra, who says he’s goin’ back to Cali. More here.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff: We’re erasing our gender pay gap—again. More here.

On Jared Kushner’s first full day as senior White House advisor to his father-in-law Donald Trump, his younger brother, venture-backed entrepreneur and investor Joshua Kushner, was attending the Women’s March on Washington. The younger Kushner said he was there “observing.” More here.

Jay Leek, former managing director and chief information security officer at Blackstone, has quietly joined ClearSky, a low-flying venture firm based in Palm Beach, Fl., where he will be managing a $300 million fund dedicated to cybersecurity. More here.

Serial enterpreneur Elon Musk is back at the White House today.

Investor Keith Rabois says he’s skeptical of the “fake news” debate. More here.


LaunchCapital, a nine-year-old, seed and early-stage investment firm, is looking to bring aboard an investment analyst. The job is in New Haven, Ct.

Essential Reads

Can Sprint save Tidal? The telecom giant, which is itself owned by Softbank, says it’s taking a 33 percent stake in the struggling streaming music startup that’s majority acquired by Jay-Z. TechCrunch has more here.

Samsung says it isn’t giving up on the Note brand, despite that customers now associate the name with exploding phones. The company plans to bring out a successor to the phone, the Galaxy Note 8. Cnet has more here.

Snapchat is taking a harder line with publishers when it comes to misleading and explicit images.


When your loved ones voted the other way.

How traveling to a foreign country can change your sense of morality.

Letters to the White House.

Retail Therapy

Skateboard bookends. (Fun.)

StrictlyVC: January 20, 2017

That was some inauguration speech. So much for trying to unify the country.

No column today as we coughed our way through the night and are now officially zonked. Superfluous pro tip: Do not, whatever you do, let a seven-year-old with a virus breathe all over you for three days while he stays home from school.

See you back here on Monday, everyone.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Twitter just isn’t enough. President Trump just took to Snapchat, too.

New Fundings

Adarza BioSystems, a nine-year-old, St. Louis, Mo.-based company that develops biological assay platforms for measuring clinical and point-of-care samples, has raised $17 million in Series C funding led by RiverVest. MedCity News has more here.

Cristal Therapeutics, 5.5-year-old, Limberg, The Netherlands-based life sciences company developing nanomedicines to treat cancer and other, chronic inflammatory diseases, has raised €12.8 million ($13.6 million) in funding from a consortium headed by Aglaia BioMedical Ventures and Belgian DROIA Oncology Ventures. FinSMEs has more here.

Dwolla, a nine-year-old, Des Moines, Ia.-based startup that competes and partners with banks to provide payments and money transfers with reduced fees via its software, has raised $6.85 million led by previous investor Union Square Ventures and new investor Foundry Group. Other participants include Next Level Ventures, Ludlow Ventures, High Alpha, Firebrand Ventures, and Detroit Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Faradion, a six-year-old, Sheffield, U.K.-based low-cost battery material developer, has raised £3.2 million ($3.9 million) in Series B funding from Mercia Technologies and earlier investors Finance Yorkshire Seedcorn Fund and Haldor Topsoe A/D. More here.

Lmrkts, a four-year-old, New York based fintech startup, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by Motive Partners. More here.

Milk Mantra, an eight-year-old, Odisha, India-based dairy startup offering natural milk products to urban consumers, has raised $10 million in Series D funding led by Neev Fund. Eight Road Ventures (an investment arm of Fidelity International), and impact investor Aavishkaar also participated in the round. The Tech Portal has more here.

Miss Fresh, a 2.5-year-old, Beijing-based company that provides fresh produce from U.S., Chile and Australia to Chinese consumers and guarantees two-hour delivery, has raised $100 million in new funding led by the venture capital arm of Lenovo and Zhejiang Zheshang Venture Capital Co. Other participants in the round include Tencent Holdings, South Korean KTB Investment & Securities, Grand Flight Investment and China Growth Capital. China Money Network has more here.

Qonto, a 10-month-old, Paris, France-based next-gen bank for entrepreneurs, has raised $1.7 million in seed funding led by Alven Capital, with participation from Valar Ventures and angel investors. More here.

Wydr, a year-old, Gurugram, India-based mobile wholesale marketplace, has raised an undisclosed amount of second round funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, Stellaris Venture Partners and Jungle Venture Partners. Axis Capital from Singapore has also joined the round. Forbes India has more here.

New Funds

CAVU Venture Partners, a food and beverage investment firm that launched its first, $156 million, fund in January of last year, has already raised a second fund, announcing the $209 million vehicle yesterday. Partly, its momentum owes to a late-stage bet on health drink company Bai, which sold in November for $1.7 billion to Dr Pepper Snapple Group. According to Forbes, that provided CAVU with a 3x return on its capital in just 10 months. More here.

HTC Vive, the virtual reality system developed by HTC, has launched a $10 million program to support virtual reality developers working on projects that drive awareness and understanding of global issues such as famine, poverty, gender disparity, and climate change. ZDNet has more here.

Raine Ventures, a 3.5-year-old, New York City-based private equity and venture firm focused on investments in digital media, entertainment, and sports, raised $100 million for its second fund, says  the WSJ. (Subscription required.)


Avaya, a Santa Clara, Ca-based telecommunications company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy yesterday. Silver Lake Partners and TPG Capital had taken the company private for $8.2 billion in 2007. Fortune has more here.

Rachel Lam is stepping down as head of Time Warner’s venture capital arm, a position she has held for the last 14 years. Allison Goldberg, who joined Time Warner in 2001, is taking over as senior VP of Time Warner Investments. More here.

Accel Partners in London has promoted Luciana Lixandru to partner. Lixandru had joined the firm as a principal in 2011 after shorter stints at Summit Partners and Morgan Stanley. TechCrunch has more here.

Donald Trump will tap Ajit Pai as his pick to lead the FCC in the new administration, elevating the sitting GOP commissioner to the top spot overseeing the nation’s communications industry, says Politico. Its report notes that Pai is a “fierce and vocal critic of many regulations passed by the commission’s Democratic majority, including the 2015 net neutrality rules that require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally.” More here.

Investor-CEO Ellen Pao to Jack Dorsey: Follow the platform’s rules and suspend Trump’s Twitter account.

Amit Singhal, former SVP of search and employee number 176 at Google, has joined Uber as its SVP of engineering. TechCrunch has more here.

Former Google VP of engineering on Youtube’s ad team, Kevin Thomson, is also joining Uber. His role: VP of marketplace engineering. TechCrunch has more here.


SeedInvest, the equity crowdfunding platform, wants to hire a director to lead its venture capital sourcing team. The job is in New York.

Essential Reads

Meitu, a kawaii anime makeover app, has been sweeping across the U.S., but security experts say it requires far more data from users’ phones than is necessary for a simple photo app and that it contains some sketchy code.

T. Rowe Price, the mutual fund giant that is one of Snap’s biggest backers, has reportedly “quietly and persistently” objected to a plan put forth by the company’s founders to only sell non-voting shares when it goes public.

Google uses its search engine to hawk its own products, finds a WSJ analysis.


The most creative infographics of 2016.

Why so many movie villains have British accents.

A visual history of the U.S. presidential inauguration.

Retail Therapy

Steve McQueen’s racing helmet is right now up for auction. (Note: the auction house warns that it’s “very expensive!”)

StrictlyVC: January 19, 2017

Hi, everyone! Is it Friday yet? No?:)

Top News in the A.M.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released its full findings following the investigation into last year’s fatal crash involving a driver’s use of Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot feature, and it clears Tesla. More here.

Mithril, Led by Peter Thiel and Ajay Royan, Closes New Fund with Roughly $850M

Peter Thiel being suddenly cast into the center of U.S. politics in 2016 isn’t something that either Thiel or his longtime friend and colleague Ajay Royan could have anticipated in 2014, when they founded Mithril Capital Management. But it doesn’t change much for the low-flying, 12-person firm, which is based in San Francisco but makes outsize bets on companies that are largely outside of the Bay Area.

In fact, Royan insists that Thiel’s position on President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team had no discernible impact on fundraising for its second and newest fund, which the firm just closed with $850 million, including management fees.

“It’s been interesting,” Royan says of Trump’s divisive win. “As observers, we’re fascinated by what’s going on; there seem to be a lot of issues that are conflated by social media and so forth. But on a day-to-day basis, what we think about and what we do hasn’t changed at all. Maybe if we were more Silicon Valley focused, we might feel it more. My social media feed is more activated around the [election results] than my business relationships.”

Some of those business relationships center on Mithril’s investors, mostly family offices in the U.S., Europe and Canada and limited enough in number than Royan spends a couple of hours with each every quarter, rather than host a formal annual meeting.

“Having a small base allows you to give people individual updates,” he says. “We can talk about the fullness of their business and the fullness of our business.”

They have plenty to discuss, surely. Mithril, which closed its first fund with roughly $540 million, has now invested in 22 companies, including the data analytics company Palantir, cofounded by Thiel; C2FO, a nine-year-old, Kansas City-based collaborative cash-flow optimization company that tries unlocking capital trapped in trade relationships; Adimab, a 10-year-old, Lebanon, New Hampshire-based antibody drug discovery startup; and a nine-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based surgical robotics company called Auris Surgical Robotics, whose founder Royan gleefully describes as having the “energy of 99 founders.”

(That founder, Dr. Frederic Moll, has cofounded several companies previously, including Intuitive Surgical, a 20-year-old, publicly traded company that makes robotic surgical systems and is valued at $25 billion.)

Mithil doesn’t have any exits to speak of yet, but investors sign up for a portfolio that’s fairly concentrated. Its debut fund committed $100 million to one (undisclosed) company, for example, and its median check size is $50 million. (Royan says that Adimab has now received more investment from Mithril than any other company it has funded. Wired profiled it last year.)

Investors also agree to a longer-than-usual ride with Mithril, whose funds have 12-year-long investing periods, giving Royan and Thiel the flexibility to make bets in established companies that aren’t yet ready to go public.

For example, C2FO is now clearing a billion dollars in transaction volume every day, up from a billion dollars every quarter in 2014, when Mithril invested in the company. Yet asked if an IPO is in sight for 2017, Royan says C2FO has no plans to go public yet and that he generally believes there should be a “line of sight to saturation” before an outfit starts talking with investment bankers.

“You want the public markets to have the confidence that yours in the last company in its category that they need to be thinking about,” he explains.

Royan also holds up C2FO as the kind of company that Mithril pursues in part because it’s outside of Silicon Valley. “I love that I have to be in Kanas City five times a year,” he says, speaking from Mithril’s sleek offices in the leafy Presidio, a former military base turned national park.

Kansas, he says, is among many places where individuals, including founders, can have a very different perspective and life experience than that of the “top-notch MIT grad or Stanford grad who lives in San Francisco or a place that consciously or unconsciously looks like it, including parts of Boston, large parts of New York — even Berlin, Stockholm and London, which very much have a Silicon Valley state of mind.”

I ask Royan if, as Thiel has suggested, he thinks Silicon Valley — where Mithril has funded seven companies altogether — has become too disconnected from the rest of the country.

More here.

New Fundings

Amra, a 6.5-year-old, Sweden-based digital health company that transforms MR images into precise body composition measurements, has raised $9 million in funding led by Pfizer Venture Investments and Novo Seeds. has more here.

Bankin’, a six-year-old, Paris, France-based personal money management app, has raised €7 million ($7.4 million) in funding led by Omnes Capital, with participation from CommerzVentures, Generation NewTech, and angel investors. More here.

Boughtbymany, a three-year-old, Lond-based insurance startup for members only, has raised $9 million in Series A funding led by Octopus Ventures, with participation from Munich Re/HSB Ventures and unnamed earlier backers. GeekTime has more here.

Credible, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based marketplace for student and personal loans (borrowers can receive competitive loan offers from numerous lenders), has closed on a $10 million Series B funding round.  The newest round brings total funding to $23 million to date for the young Fintech firm. The series B funding round was led by Regal Funds Management, with participation from earlier backers Ron Suber and Carthona Capital. Crowdfund Insider has more here.

DigiLens, a 13-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca-based that makes holographic projection systems, laser projectors, and transparent displays, has raised $22 million in fresh funding from Sony, Foxconn, Continental, Panasonic, Alsop Louie Partners, Bold Capital, Nautilus Venture Partners and Dolby Family Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Fabric, a year-old New York City-based digital life insurance company, has raised $2.5 million in funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from Box Group, Brainchild, Maveron, Red Sea Ventures, andRGAx. More here.

Fig, a 1.5-year-year-old, San Francisco-based crowdfunding platform and publisher that sells SEC-qualified shares tied to individual game projects, has raised $7.84 million in Series A funding led by Spark Capital and Greycroft, with participation from Resolute Ventures, NextView Ventures, and Draft Ventures. More here.

Flirtey, a three-year-old, Reno, Nv.-based drone delivery service, has raised $16 million in Series A funding led by the company’s seed investors, Menlo Ventures and Qualcomm Ventures, and joined by Lowercase Capital, Y Combinator and World Innovation Lab. TechCrunch has more here.

FLYR, a three-year-old, San Francisco data science company that predicts flight fare changes, has raised $8 million in  Series A funding led by Peter Thiel, with participation from JetBlue Technology Ventures, Streamlined Ventures, AXA Strategic Ventures, Amadeus, Western Technology Investment, Plug and Play and Chasm Capital Management. More here.

Headset, a year-old, Bellevue, Wa.-based retail analytics firm for cannabis-related businesses, has raised $2.5 million in funding from Hypur Ventures and Salveo Capital. More here.

Huangbaoche, a two-year-old, Beijing-based travel startup providing tour packages and booking services for outbound Chinese tourists, has raised $30 million in Series B funding led by Matrix Partners China and GF Xinde Investment ManagementConcord Investment and earlier backer SSC Fund also participated in the round. China Money Network has more here.

Iyzico, a four-year-old, Istanbul, Turkey-based payment receipt system management platform, has raised raised $13 million in Series C funding led by Vostok Emerging Finance, with participation from International Finance Corporation and 212. has more here.

The Players’ Tribune, a two-year-old, New York-based media platform being professional athletes and fans together, has raised $40 million in Series C funding led by IVP, with participation from GV and earlier investors New Enterprise Associates, Thomas Tull, GenTrust and individual athletes. Fortune has more here.

Shenma Finance, a 1.5-year-old, Shanghai-based financial services platform focused on China’s rural population, has raised $14 million in Series B funding led by the Beijing-based Chinese private equity firm ChinaEquity Group. Earlier backers Shunwei Capital, China Growth Capital and Frees Fund also participated in the round. China Money Network has more here.

SilverCloud Health, a five-year-old, Dublin, Ireland-based digital healthcare company whose online programs aims to help people experiencing a range of mental and behavioral problems, has raised €7.6 million ($9.4 million)  funding led by by Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital Group. Other participants in the round include ACT Venture Capital, Investec Ventures, Enterprise Ireland and NDRC. The Times has more here.

Salsify, a four-year-old, Boston-based product content management platform for retail brands, has raised $30 million in Series C funding led by local venture capital firm Underscore.VC. Earlier backers Venrock, Matrix Partners and North Bridge also joined the round. More here.

Split, a year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based platform for controlled rollouts of new features, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Accel Partners, with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sway Ventures. More here.

TellusLabs, a seven-month-old, Somerville, Ma.-based satellite imagery and machine learning company, has raised $3 million in new seed funding from IA Ventures, along with Hyperplane VC, Founder Collective and Project11. TechCrunch has more here.

URWork, a five-year-old, China-based co-working space start-up a la WeWork, has raised $58 million in new funding from Tianhong Asset Management Co., the Chinese property developer Junfa Group and a number of other Chinese companies. China Money Network has more here.

(Other) New Funds

Rocket Internet Capital Partners Fund, the venture arm of the German internet giant, announced today that it has raised $1 billion to invest across all stages of startups. VentureBeat has more here.

Saama Capital, a Bangalore, India-based venture capital firm whose portfolio includes so-called unicorn companies Paytm and Snapdeal, has held a final close on its third fund with $58 million. The Economic Times has more here.


Matt Cutts, a 17-year Google veteran who authored the company’s SafeSearch content filter, will become acting administrator of the U.S. Digital Service later this month, he announced on his blog earlier today. Cutts left Google last June to help the Department of Defense solve complicated IT issues and develop new technologies. More here.

Hootan Rashidifard has joined Canaan Partners as an associate in New York; he was formerly a manager in LinkedIn’s business operations group.

Martin Shkreli, once the most hated biotech executive in America, has reportedly sold out one of the most hated drug companies on Wall Street. More here.

Mark Zuckerberg is suing Hawaiian land owners to secure his 700-acre island getaway. More here.


The Simon Property Group is looking to hire a venture capital analyst into its venture group. The job is in New York.

Persado, a four-year-old startup that sells its technology to digital marketers and is backed by Goldman Sachs, is looking to hire a VP of corporate development. The job is in San Francisco.

Essential Reads

What is Meitu? The kawaii anime makeover app goes viral.


How space could trigger a future economic crisis.

Retail Therapy

We would never leave the shower again.

StrictlyVC: January 18, 2017

Hi, everyone, happy Wednesday.:)

Top News in the A.M.

The Department of Labor just filed a lawsuit against software giant Oracle for discriminatory employment practices. More here.

Facebook Agreed to Pay More for Oculus Than We Realized; Here’s Why

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in a Dallas court yesterday as part of a lawsuit claiming that Oculus VR, the startup Facebook acquired for roughly $2 billion, was based on stolen technology. Unsurprisingly, Zuckerberg defended Oculus and in the process revealed a number of new details about the negotiations involved in purchasing the company. Among them: that Facebook agreed to pay $700 million in employee retention bonuses for “key people.”

It was news to the rest of us. When Facebook announced the deal back in 2014, it said it was paying a “total of approximately” $2 billion, including $400 million in cash and  23.1 million shares of Facebook. It said the agreement “also provides for an additional $300 million earn-out in cash and stock” based on Oculus meeting certain milestones. It said bupkis about that extra $700 million in retention bonuses.

Was its own release “fake news?” It’s commonly known that the actual price paid for a company and what the public sees in headlines is rarely the same, owing to factors like the fluctuating value of an acquirer’s stock. But a $700 million difference? Isn’t that notable?

Actually, no, said a handful of bankers and analysts with whom we spoke yesterday. Here’s why. That original press release from Facebook addressed the price paid for Oculus to its former owners (including its founders, Andreessen Horowitz, Matrix Partners, and Spark Capital, among others). That’s the $2 billion, plus that $300 million earn-out component.

Meanwhile, the $700 million that Zuckerberg referenced yesterday takes into account the ongoing costs following the close of the deal, and those costs — in the form of employee incentives — aren’t typically considered in the purchase price as they’re paid out over time, as one co-chair of a corporate securities group told us.

In short, new employees have to work for that money.

Tom Peters, cofounder of the San Francisco-based investment bank Iverness Advisors, agrees with that view. As a former managing director at Montgomery & Co., Peters worked on the sale of MySpace to News Corp. in 2005, and says that while the deal is referred to this day as costing $580 million, it was really $630 million by the time every i was dotted and t was crossed. “The devil is always in the details,” he says.

When it comes to this particular disparity, while it may seem “shockingly big,” he says the money that was set aside for compensation to certain Oculus employees for continuing to work at Facebook must have been separated out from purchase price, which is a “not uncommon” practice, he says. “It’s often viewed as in a different category, including because of accounting guidelines that tell you to account for things in different ways.” (He notes, for example, that tax treatments and tax consequences differ when it comes to purchase prices versus compensation.)

In the end, “it was a judgment call,” says a San Francisco-based investment banker who asked not to be named. “Certainly, Facebook could have mentioned the possibility of additional payments at the time of the acquisition. Then again, does it want to be known for paying big retention bonuses and earn-outs? You can see the case [for leaving out that information].”

More here.

New Fundings

Collibra, a nine-year-old, New York-based company that automates data management processes, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by ICONIQ Capital, with participation from Battery Ventures and return backers Dawn Capital, Index Ventures and Newion Investments. TechCrunch has more here.

Deputy, a nine-year-old, Sydney, Australia-based maker of workforce software that manages employees, shift changes, log-ins, and payroll, has raised $25 million in Series A financing from OpenView. GeekTime has more here.

InsideSales, a 12.5-year-old, Provo, Ut.-based predictive analytics platform that helps salespeople focus on finding and engaging prospects at the right time, has raised $50 million in fresh funding today. The round was led by earlier backer Polaris Partners, along with newcomers QuestMark Partners and the Irish Strategic Investment Fund. Earlier backers Microsoft, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, HWVP, USVP, Epic Ventures and Zetta Venture Partners also joined the round, which brings InsideSales’s total funding to more than $250 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Iris Automation, a year-old, Vancouver, British Columbia-based startup that’s developing collision avoidance systems for industrial drones, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding led by Bee Partners, with participation from Social Capital, GGV Capital, Liquid 2, Kevin Moore and Paul Bucheit. TechCrunch has more here., a months-old, San Francisco-based streaming service for stand-up comedy (it features a library of comedians’ stand-up sets), has raised $2.25 million in seed funding led by New York Angels. Other participants in the round include Barbara Corcoran, the Wharton Alumni Angel Network, Social Capital, Backstage Capital, Treehouse Capital, Accelerator Ventures and Atlas Holdings. TechCrunch has more here.

Neurala, a nine-year-old, Boston-based software company behind The Neurala Brain, a deep learning neural networks platform, has raised $14 million in Series A funding led by Pelion Venture Partners, with participation from Sherpa Capital, Motorola Solutions Venture CapitalSK Ventures, Idinvest Partners, with earlier backers 360 Capital and Draper Associates Investments. TechCrunch has more here.

Pipedrive, a six-year-old, New York-based company that makes sales pipeline software, has raised $17 million in Series B funding led by Atomico, with participation from earlier backers Bessemer Venture Partners and Rembrandt Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Process Street, a two-year-old, New York-based platform for workflow automation, business process management and reporting, has raised $1.3 million in fresh seed funding from Blackbird Ventures and AirTree Ventures.The company had previously passed through the AngelPad accelerator program. More here.

ProtectWise, a 3.5-year-old, Denver-based security startup that records network traffic DVR-style and saves it in the cloud, has raised $25 million in new funding from Arsenal Venture Partners, Top Tier Capital Partners, Tola Capital, and unnamed strategic investors. The company has now raised more than $67 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Zeotap, a two-year-old, Berlin-based startup that helps telecom companies sell their data to advertisers, has raised €12 million (roughly $13 million) in Series B funding. The capital came from New Science Ventures and location services provider HERE, as well as previous investors Capnamic Ventures and Iris Capital. Zeotap has now raised more than $20 million. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

Alchemist Accelerator, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based accelerator program that makes seed and early-stage investments, has raised $2.5 million for a new fund, including from Johnson Controls, Ericsson, and Analog Garage, the venture arm of Analog Devices. TechCrunch has more here.

Tej Kohli, an Indian entrepreneur and philanthropist with an estimated net worth of $6 billion, say he has earmarked an initial $25 million for a program called the The Kohli Impact Investment Initiative that will be invested through his investment firm, Kohli Ventures. The idea is to funnel capital to ideas and technologies with societal and environmental benefits, including via sectors that include artificial intelligence, fintech, ag tech and renewables. More here.

A new fintech-focused venture firm called Motive Partners, founded by a team of fintech entrepreneurs and investors, is launching today with offices in London and New York. The outfit isn’t revealing its fund size but earlier this month it quietly filed a Form D with the SEC noting that it was raising $150 million. TechCrunch has more here.

New Enterprise Associates, the 40-year-old venture firm, has signaled its intention to raise $3 billion for its 16th fund in a new SEC filing. More here.

Google is taking over Twitter’s mobile app developer platform Fabric, as well as its Answers mobile app analytics, and Crashlytics crash reporting system. The moves come as Twitter looks to cut its non-essential divisions. TechCrunch has more here.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is acquiring the eight-year-old, Westborough, Ma.-based data-storage startup SimpliVity for $650 million in cash, a steep discount to the startup’s most recent $1 billion valuation. SimpliVity had raised more than $275 million from investors, including Accel Partners, CRV and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The WSJ has more here.

Jason Child, CFO of Jawbone, the troubled consumer tech company, has left the company. Child had joined Jawbone in July 2015 from Groupon, where he had served as CFO for nearly five years and took the company public. The Verge has the story here.

Compass, the real estate startup that was recently assigned a $1 billion valuation, has a new COO: Maëlle Gavet. Gavet was most recently an EVP at Priceline. Earlier, she was CEO of Ozon, an Amazon-like company in Moscow. (We had lunch with her at the time to discuss the challenge of doing business in Russia.)

Daniel Springer is taking the reigns as CEO of the electronic signature company DocuSign. Springer was most recently an operating partner at the private equity firm Advent International. More here.


Google is looking to hire a corporate development analyst to help with sourcing deals. The job is in Mountain View, Ca.

Essential Reads

Theranos is closing down its last remaining blood-testing facility after the lab reportedly failed a regulatory inspection.

These six-wheeled robots from Starship Technologies are about to start delivering food in the U.S.

Facebook is launching its first official startup incubator.

What I wish I’d known about equity before joining a unicorn.


More proof that eating hot peppers is good for you.

What a $250 million house looks like.

Pitchbot, for perfecting your startup pitch.

Retail Therapy

Apache sunglasses, for your own fictional Vietnam War film.

StrictlyVC: January 17, 2017

Hi, everyone, welcome back.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Amazon was just awarded a patent for a highway network that controls self-driving cars and trucks. Recode has the story here.

Joe Lonsdale Moves Forward with 8VC’s New Fund and More

Joe Lonsdale has had his fair share of ups and downs in recent years. Investors don’t seem to mind. Nearly a year ago, they quietly provided Lonsdale’s newest, early-stage venture firm, 8VC, with $425 million in funding for its debut fund, along with $50 million for a separate seed fund. The firm, which is run by five partners, has since invested a quarter of that capital in an array of companies, including, most recently, Synthego, a genetic engineering startup that provides scientists with genetic material used in their Crispr research.

Lonsdale declined to comment on 8VC’s fundraising last year. But last week, we spoke with him about the new fund and, to a much lesser extent, about Formation 8 Partners, which Lonsdale famously cofounded in 2011 with Stanford classmate Brian Koo and longtime venture investor Jim Kim before the three abruptly disbanded in 2015. One oft-cited reason for the firm’s demise: differing opinions about strategy.

Koo has since founded another firm: Formation Group, which hews most closely to Formation 8’s mission, which was to bridge the ecosystems between Asian countries and Silicon Valley. Kim has also cofounded a new venture firm called Builders, which we reported on last month. Its big idea: to help nascent companies gets sales and marketing staff involved early.

8VC’s mantra is simply, “The world is broken; let’s fix it.”

That approach helps explain its bet on Synthego. It also accounts for a perhaps more controversial bet on Hyperloop One, an ambitious company aiming to build faster, cleaner long-distance travel through a supersonic transit system that remains largely theoretical for now. (The well-funded company, which recently settled a lawsuit with one of its cofounders and several former employees, is currently engaged in numerous feasibility studies.)

8VC’s mission also underscores what Lonsdale most wants to focus on — the future.

More here.

New Fundings

Ascent360, a three-year-old, Golden, Co.-based customer data platform, has raised $1.9 million in seed funding from Access Venture Partners, Nelnet, Bialla Venture Partners 2, Service Provider Capital, and the Rockies Venture Club. More here.

AppsFlyer, a 5.5-year-old, Herzliya, Israel-based marketing technology platform for apps, has raised $56 million in Series C funding led by Qumra Capital, with Goldman Sachs Private Capital Investing, Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, Pitango Growth and earlier backers participating. Fortune has more here.

Fraugster, a two-year-old, Leeds, U.K.-based cybersecurity company that aims to prevent payment fraud, has raised $5 million in funding led by Earlybird, with participation from Speedinvest and Seedcamp. TechCrunch has more here.

Letgo, a year-old, New York-based online marketplace for used goods that’s looking to steal market share from eBay and Craigslist, has raised $175 million from earlier backer Naspers, along with other previous investors Accel Partners, Insight Venture Partners, New Enterprise Associates and 14W. The startup has raised $375 million in total so far. Bloomberg has more here.

Measure, a 2.5-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based startup that flies drones as a service for businesses that want to do things like conduct inspections, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by the IT services firm Cognizant. Other participants in the round include Hudson Bay Capital and an unnamed sovereign wealth fund. TechCrunch has more here.

Neufund, a six-month-old, Berlin-based outfit that’s building a blockchain-based and investor-directed platform, has raised €2 million ($2.1 million) from Atlantic Labs, Gameforge cofounder Klaas Kersting and a group of angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

OPĀQ Networks, a Herndon, Va.-based network-security-as-a-service company, has raised $21 million in Series A funding from Columbia Capital, Harmony Partners and Zero-G. Glenn Hazard, long a managing partner of Zero-G, has also joined the company as CEO and chairman. More here.

OrderGroove, a six-year-old, New York-based company that helps retailers and brands sell online by building tools for them that are similar to those used by Amazon, has raised $20 million in Series C funding. The money comes from National Holdings Corporation, a New York-based publicly traded financial institution. (It has also backed Lyft, Palantir, and Coursera.) TechCrunch has more here.

Practo, a nine-year-old, Bangalore, Indian-based company whose platform enables patients to find healthcare providers and book appointments, has raised $55 million in Series D funding. The round was led by Tencent Holdings, with participation from ru-Net, RSI Fund (owned by Recruit Holdings), Thrive Capital and earlier backers Sequoia Capital, Capital G, Matrix Partners, Altimeter Capital and the investment holding company Sofina. TechCrunch has more here.

SecureSet Academy, a two-year-old, Denver, Co.-based startup that develops cybersecurity educational programs, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by the Colorado Impact Fund. More here.

Spaces, a year-old, L.A.-based virtual- and mixed-reality firm, raised $6.5 million in seed funding led by Songcheng Performance Development Co., with participation from Comcast Ventures and other unnamed venture firms. More here.

Starburst Labs, a 4.5-year-old, New York-based company that operates a platform where individual investors and financial professionals connect (it also operates a CRM solution for financial advisors), has raised $6.25 million in Series A funding. Bel45 Capital Partners contributed $5 million to the round; the rest came from previous seed investors. Starburst has now raised $10.25 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here., a year-old, Washington, D.C.-based website that tries to find discounts for small business travelers by suggesting alternative travel routes and accommodation and bundling flights and hotels together, has raised $50 million in funding. Participants include Red Ventures and the investment firm Leucadia National Corp. Upside was founded by Jay Walker, the founder of has more here.

Zoom, a five-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based cloud video conferencing service, announced a whopping $100 million Series D round this morning, entirely funded by Sequoia Capital. The company now boasts a $1 billion valuation. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

Serena Capital, a nine-year-old, Paris-based venture capital firm, has raised nearly €80 million ($85.7 million) for Serena Data Ventures, a fund dedicated to investing in big data and artificial intelligence companies in Europe. More here.

Bunkr, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that hosts presentations in the cloud for professionals wanting to illustrate their work through interactive presentations, has been acquired by Synthesio, an 11-year-old, New York-based social media monitoring and analytics platform. Bunkr looks to have raised just $1.4 million in funding, including from Idinvest Partners. Synthesis has raised at least $30 million, also from Idinvest Partners. Terms aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.

Microsoft has acquired Maluuba, a five-year-old, Montreal-based artificial intelligence startup, for undisclosed terms. The company had raised $11 million from Nautilus Venture Partners and Emerillon Capital. TechCrunch has more here.


South Korean prosecutors yesterday issued a warrant for the arrest of the Samsung group’s de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, in a bribery case related to last month’s impeachment of the country’s president. The L.A. TImes has more here.

Joyable, a small startup focused on helping people overcome social anxiety, has laid off 20 people, or half of its staff, says Fortune. The company is backed by $10 million in funding from Thrive Capital and Harrison Metal. More here.
Tom Loverro has been named principal at IVP. He joined the firm in April 2015 from RRE Ventures to focus on both later-stage consumer and enterprise companies and he currently sits on the board of NerdWallet. He also works actively with a handful of other IVP-backed companies, including Tanium.

Michael Lynton is stepping down as CEO of Sony Entertainment and joining Snap — owner of the disappearing-message app Snapchat — as board chairman. Fortune has more here.

China’s internet giant Baidu has beefed up on its AI talent by hiring former Microsoft executive Qi Lu as group president and COO. Baidu is best known for its search engine, but over the past two years it has poured more resources into developing artificial intelligence, which includes self-driving cars and more. TechCrunch has more here.

Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, co-founders of Snap, are expected to hold more than 70 percent of the company’s voting power post its IPO, despite owning roughly 45 percent of the stock. The WSJ has more here.

Balaji Srinivasan—who cofounded the biotech firm Counsyl and worked briefly as a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz — is reportedly Trump’s top pick to lead the FDA. Gizmodo asks if that’s why he recently deleted all but one of his thousands of tweets.

Increasingly controversial investor Peter Thiel is reportedly talking with a small circle of advisors about running for governor of California next year. Politico has the story here.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is testifying in court today in a lawsuit that claims Oculus VR, the startup he acquired for $2 billion, was based on stolen technology. Oculus CTO and former Zenimax employee John Carmack was the first to testify on January 10. Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey will take the stand later this week. Business Insider has more here. You can also follow the Twitter account of New York Times reporter Mike Isaac, who is at the trial in Dallas and covering it live.


iNovia, the 10-year-old, early-stage venture firm, is looking to hire an analyst. The job is in Montreal

Bad News

Eight men now control as much wealth as the world’s poorest 3.6 billion people, according to a new report from Oxfam International.


The 30 U.S. tech companies where employees most love to work.

Essential Reads

Eighteen under-the-radar startups to watch this year (good list).

We’ve noted that flying cars are coming. Now Airbus Group says it will have a prototype for its own flying car developed by the end of this year.

Can Snapchat‘s culture of secrecy survive an IPO?


Sven Helbig: Abendglühen

Retail Therapy

A one-of-a-kind Donkey Kong watch. Because ’80s nostalgia.

StrictlyVC: January 13, 2017

Aaaagh. We’re this close to finishing a column this a.m. but we have to get to a doctor’s appointment, so we’ll save it for next week. Happy Friday the 13th, everyone, and we’ll see you back here Tuesday, following MLK Day.

Quick mention: our StrictlyVC event coming up February 8 in San Francisco is nearly sold out at this point. We have just 20 seats left, so if you were planning to come, make haste. (For those of who can’t make it, we promise we’ll have lots of coverage for you afterward.)

Much thanks again to our partners in the evening, Bolt, Crunchbase, and Rosebud Communications. We greatly appreciate your support!

Top News in the A.M.

LeEco, the cash-starved business run by Chinese entrepreneur Jia Yueting, has received 16.8 billion yuan ($2.4 billion) in funding and investments from real estate developer Sunac China Holdings and other investors after selling its stakes in its video streaming and movie studio businesses. South China Morning Post has the story here.

New Fundings

Gridtential, a six-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based developer of a battery architecture that it says improves energy density, cycling performance, and battery life, has raised $6 million in funding from East Penn Manufacturing, Crown Battery Manufacturing, Leoch International, and Power-Sonic. More here.

HouseCanary, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based real estate analytics company that forecasts markets and property prices, has raised $33 million in Series A funding from Hillspire (which is Eric Schmidt’s family office), Alpha Edison, ECA Ventures, Raven Ventures, Egon Durban and Nikesh Arora. The company had raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding last year from Basepoint Ventures and Bryant Stibel Investments, the investment outfit formed last August by Kobe Bryant and Jeff Stibel. TechCrunch has more here.

LingoLive, a four-year-old, New York-based company that teaches English communication skills to employees at multinational companies, has raised $5.2 million in funding led by Owl Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Entrepreneurs Expansion Fund, Alpine Meridian Ventures, and Fresco Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Linkem, a 16-year-old, Rome, Italy-based fixed wireless broadband services company, has raised $100 million in funding from funds managed by BlackRock, along with earlier backers Leucadia National Corporation and Cowen Group. The company has now raised more than €500 million to expand its LTE ultrabroadband fixed wireless network across Italy. More here.

MobileMD System, a three-year-old, Zhenjiang, China-based SaaS company whose products include a clinical research data collection system, a drug management system, and a patient reporting system, has raised $14 million in Series C funding led by Genesis Capital, with participation from earlier backers Matrix Partners China, Northern Light Venture Capital and Shenzhen Cowin Venture Capital Investments. China Money Network has more here.

Starship Technologies, a 2.5-year-old, London-based startup that’s commercializing ground drones that can carry packages right to a customer’s door, has raised $17.2 million in fresh funding led by automaker Daimler AG. Other participants include Shasta Ventures, Matrix Partners, ZX Ventures, Morpheus Ventures, Grishin Robotics, Playfair Capital, and HOF Capital. The WSJ has more here.

Yoshi, a nearly year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based gas delivery service that also offers customers services like replacing windshield wiper blades and car washing, has raised $2.1 million led by Zhen Fund, with participation from Liquid 2 Ventures and angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

Venture capital firm Balderton Capital is in the process of raising a sixth fund, reports Bloomberg, citing documents filed in Luxembourg in November. The firm isn’t commenting on the fund size or when the new vehicle might be done fundraising. Balderton’s last fund closed with $305 million in April 2014.

Former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson, who left the world’s largest burger chain in early 2015, has launched Cleveland Avenue, a Chicago-based venture-capital firm focused on building and growing food, beverage and restaurant ventures. Crain’s Chicago Business reports that the new firm recently took over a three-story, 33,000-square-foot building in Chicago’s West Loop, “an amount of space that perhaps signals big intentions.” More here.

Brent Hoberman, co-founder of, has begun gathering commitments for a new London-based tech fund for European startups called Firstminute Capital, and its first investor is Atomico, says Bloomberg. Hoberman isn’t commenting on the target just yet.

Kuang-Chi Group, a Shenzhen, China-based tech conglomerate, has launched a new, $250 million fund called Global Community of Innovation Fund II that it plans to invest in smart city/smart home, internet of Things, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and artificial reality and robotics companies. DealStreetAsia has more here.

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, based in Milwaukee, said yesterday that it’s forming a $50 million venture unit to fund fintech startups. The company said check sizes will range from $500,000 to $3 million. Milwaukee Business News has more here.


Clutch, a four-year-old, Philadelphia-based customer management and marketing analytics company, has acquired Persio, a four-year-old, Chicago-based online multi-channel platform for retail marketers. Persio had raised $5.5 million in funding from investors, including Origin Ventures, OCA Ventures, and Illinois Ventures. Clutch has raised just less than $20 million from investors, including Safeguard Scientifics. ChicagoInno has more here.


Pandora, the publicly traded music streaming service, is laying off around seven percent of its U.S. workforce, excluding Ticketfly, by the end of the first quarter this year, the company said yesterday. More here.


Adobe is looking to add a senior manager to its corporate development team. The job is in San Jose, Ca.

Bad News

Arizona’s attorney general quietly announced his intention to sue Theranos for consumer fraud. This news came out in a solicitation for outside counsel posted on the state’s website. MedCity News has more here.


Megadeals in China helped bring a record $31 billion in venture capital investment into the country last year, despite a sluggish global economy and a sharp drop in the number of new deals. According to KPMG‘s quarterly report on global VC trends, venture investment in China rose 19 pecent last year, representing roughly one quarter of the $127 billion that flowed into startups worldwide. More here. More here.

Essential Reads

Lily Robotics is shutting down. But things could get even worse than that for the failed camera company.

Palantir just partnered with Germany’s Merck in what could become a very lucrative tie-up for the data analytics company.


A virtual reality tour of the entire White House, courtesy of Oculus.

How a secretive Manhattan heiress wound up on Trump’s transition team.

Heading out tonight? Eat food first, have water in between drinks, and take a pain reliever before you hit the sheets.

Retail Therapy

Want to live somewhere between the Obamas and the Kushners in Washington’s Kalorama neighborhood? Now it can be so (for $5.75 million).

StrictlyVC: January 12, 2017

Hi, and good morning/afternoon, all, happy Thursday. We’re racing out the door; please excuse any and all typos, as you do.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Apple is reportedly planning to build a significant new business in original television shows and movies, a move that could make it a bigger player in Hollywood and offset slowing sales of iPhones and iPads. The WSJ has the story here.

Bitcoin Booster Pantera Capital Stays the Course, Targeting a $25M New Fund

The digital currency bitcoin began 2017 with a bang, soaring to its highest level in more than three years to reach $1,150 – a record high.

Since then, its price has more fallen more the 30 percent as nervous Chinese authorities put local bitcoin exchanges on notice that more regulations may be coming.

To Dan Morehead — a former head of macro trading at Tiger Global who today runs his own San Francisco-based investment firm — such zigs and zags are hardly a surprise. His shop, Pantera Capital, has been exclusively focused on bitcoin and other digital currencies since 2011, and he argues that its price is “actually very predictable.” We talked with him late last week to learn more.

Bitcoin has been going bananas lately. Why?

With the exception of a bubble in 2013, the price is actually very predictable and has been rising along with the actual use of bitcoin. It was [trending up] slowly for a while because Ethereum [an open source public blockchain-based distributed computing platform] was supposed to be taking over – bitcoin was facing questions over its governance structure – but then Ethereum faded and bitcoin surged back.

That it reached another digit – into a thousand dollars – has gotten people excited, but its price has been grinding up for two years.

How many bitcoins are currently in circulation?

There are 16.09 million bitcoins now, with a roughly $14.4 billion market cap. In a hundred years, there will be 21 million bitcoins. So more than two-thirds of bitcoins have already been issued.

Early on, 50 bitcoins were issued every 10 minutes, then it was 25 bitcoins every 10 minutes, now it’s 12.5 and in another four years it’ll go to 6.25. So as their value is appreciating, the number of bitcoins that are being issued is being cut in half. The total value is going up fast as a result.

Where do those 16 million bitcoins mostly reside?

There’s no solid data on this, but anecdotally, it’s extremely popular in China because a lot of the transaction processors – or bitcoin miners — are there as chip manufacturing is there and electricity is inexpensive because of big hydro plans. Also, with Chinese currency devaluing and speculation that the country’s banking system is suspect or bankrupt, it’s a great way for citizens to store their wealth; some see it as a safer depository institution than their bank.

Why would anyone ever use the currency, versus merely hold it?

It’s definitely enticing for an investor to hold bitcoin, because they can buy more assets in the future. We have a fund where we’re investing in digital currency startups, but we have another where we invest in the currency and just hold it because we think it’ll be more valuable in the future.

How much bitcoin has that second fund of yours amassed?

More here.

New Fundings

Campanda, a 3.5-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based online booking site for recreational vehicles like camper vans and motor homes, has raised €10 million ($10.6 million) in Series B funding. Investors include Michelin Travel Partner, Accel Partners, Idinvest Partners, Ecomobility Ventures, Groupe Arnault, Ringier Digital Ventures, b-to-v Partners, and Atlantic Labs.The company has now raised €17 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Clearwater Clinical, a 12-year-old, Ottawa, Canada-based company whose mobile medical devices and cloud-based data management software are designed for the hearing health industry, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Whitecap Venture Partners, with participation from BDC Capital Healthcare Venture Fund. More here.

Funding Circle, the 6.5-year-old, London-based peer-to-peer lending platform that lets small businesses connect with investors willing to lend them money, has raised another $100 million in Series F funding, led by Accel Partners. Previous investors also joined the round, including Baillie Gifford, DST Global, Index Ventures, Ribbit Capital, Rocket Internet, Sands Capital Ventures, Temasek and Union Square Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Iguama, a 2.5-year-old, Miami, Fl.-based cross-border e-commerce platform that provides consumers in Latin America access to U.S. retail brands that aren’t typically available for purchase in local malls, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Kibo Ventures and PeopleFund. More here.

Kasisto, a 3.5-year-old startup that helps companies engages and transact with their customers via smart bots and virtual assistants, has raised $9.2 million in Series A funding led by Propel Venture Partners, with participation from Mastercard, Commerce Ventures and earlier investors Two Sigma Ventures, DBS Bank, Partnership Fund for New York City, New York Angels and Harvard Business School Alumni Angels of New York. More here.

Kayrros, a year-old, Paris-based predictive analytics company for the energy markets, has raised €9 million ($9.6 million) in Series A funding led by Index Ventures. More here.

OncoImmune, a Rockville, Md.-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by 3E Bioventures Capital. More here.

Roambee, a two-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based asset monitoring business (it tracks shipments and their condition in real time), has raised $3.1 million in funding from Deutsche Telekom Strategic Investments. TechCrunch has more here.
Stadium Goods, a nearly two-year-old, New York-based brand that sells “authenticated” sneakers both offline and (increasingly) online, has raised $4.6 million in Series A funding led by Forerunner Ventures, with participation from The Chernin Group, Mark Cuban, and other, unnamed investors. TechCrunch has more here.
Staffjoy, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based scheduling tool for workers and managers, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding led by Caffeinated Capital, with participation from Brainchild Holdings and Haystack Fund. VentureBeat has more here.

New Funds

Singapore-based East Ventures, one of Southeast Asia’s first seed-stage investment firms, has closed its fifth fund with $27.5 million. TechCrunch has more here.
A new accelerator program and venture fund called Engage is launching today with $15 million in capital. The fund was established with the help of Atlanta’s mayor, Kasim Reed; the Georgia Institute of Technology; and 10 of Atlanta’s biggest companies, each of which is kicking in $1.5 million in funding. The hope is that 48 startups will graduate from the program in the next three years. More here.

Eclipse Ventures, a Palo Alto, Ca-based early-stage venture firm, has raised $183.8 million for its second fund, according to an SEC filing first flagged by Fortune. Venture geeks might recall that Eclipse was originally part of Formation 8, a firm that has since disbanded but that, before doing so, raised a $125 million fund that was designed to invest exclusively in early-stage hardware companies. (Its original name was F8 Hardware Fund. Among its limited partners is Flex, the publicly traded contract design and manufacturing company formerly known as Flextronics.) Former F8 partner Lior Susan now manages Eclipse; others on the team include longtime Sequoia Capital partner Pierre Lamond, who’d been an F8 advisor earlier, and Greg Reichow, who eft his post as Tesla’s vice president of production last May and joined Eclipse in July.


Lily, the 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of autonomous camera drones that sold a whopping $34 million in preorders, is shutting down and refunding its customers. According to Crunchbase, the company had raised at least $15 million from investors, including Spark Capital. TechCrunch has more here.


Amazon said that it will hire 100,000 more full-time employees over the next 18 months to grow its workforce to 280,000. ZDNet has more here. (Donald Trump is taking partial credit for this.)

Dag Kittlaus, the 49-year-old speech recognition expert who is best known for selling Siri to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, says he dodged death recently when a voluntary executive exam showed he had the same pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer that Jobs had developed. Recode talks with Kittlaus about it here.

Madrona Venture Group in Seattle is announcing a couple of new appointments this morning. Hope Cochran has joined as a venture partner. She was previously the CFO of King Digital, maker of the game “Candy Crush,” and CFO of the telecom company Clearwire. Meanwhile, Soma Somasegar has been promoted to managing director. Somasegar had joined Madrona in November 2015 as a venture partner after a 25-year-long career at Microsoft, where he led he company’s developer division. TechCrunch has more here.

Peter Thiel, the tech billionaire and more newly consigliere to Donald Trump, comes off as charming and disarming in an expansive interview with Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, even if his arguments in defense of Trump are surprisingly thin. He says, for example, that “I don’t think these things [like gay rights] will particularly change. It’s like, even if you appointed a whole series of conservative Supreme Court justices, I’m not sure that Roe v. Wade would get overturned, ever. I don’t know if people even care about the Supreme Court.” (People care a lot about the Supreme Court, of course, and we’re certain if you appointed a whole series of conservative judges, much would change.)

VSCO, a five-year-old company behind a popular photo editing app and various other publishing tools, has closed up shop in New York and laid off all its staff there. VSCO, which has raised $70 million from investors, including Accel Partners and Glynn Capital Management, said it’s centralizing staff in Oakland, Ca., where it is headquartered. TechCrunch has more here.


Fontinalis Partners, a venture firm focused on transportation-related technologies, is looking to add a senior analyst to its team. The job is in Detroit.

Essential Reads

According to the Financial Times, Jawbone‘s archrival actually tried to buy it last year. Fitbit offered to acquire Jawbone’s assets and settle any legal battles, but the deal reportedly fell through because the price was too low for Jawbone and its backers. More here.

Xiaomi has decided against revealing how many smartphones it sold in 2016. The annual strategy yielded many headlines for the company in past years, but today its CEO admitted that Xiaomi has been in transition after growing “too fast”. More here.


Funny new Intel ad, starring Tom Brady.

Fourteen incredible underwater sculptures.

Retail Therapy

Muratto wall tiles.

StrictlyVC: January 11, 2017

Hi, happy Wednesday, everyone! Know we’re a little late — we’re still trying to recover from that press conference this morning.

Top News in the A.M.

More ads are coming on Instagram.

Precursor Ventures Raises $15.3 Million for Seed Investing, with a Twist

Charles Hudson has lived in the Bay Area for the last 20 years, working as product manager, as an entrepreneur, and an investor. As such, he’s had a front row seat to a number of changes in the way that startup are funding, including the evolution of numerous angel investors into so-called micro VCs into fund managers who are now responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Take investor Jeff Clavier, who began sprinkling tiny amounts of money across what appeared to be a new crop of capital-efficient startups back in 2004 and soon after launched a firm, SoftTechVC, where Hudson would become a partner in 2013. By 2014, SoftTech had closed a fourth fund with $85 million. Last June, it closed on a record $150 million across two funds.

Hudson was cheering on the firm — from down the street in San Francisco. Since last year, he has been creating his own brand, Precursor Ventures, to seize on the funding vacuum creating by firms like SoftTech that can no longer write small checks. Hudson, one of few African American VCs in the Bay Area, also sees another underserved opportunity in funding women and other minorities.

We talked with Hudson last week about how he’s approaching both missions and whether they were a difficult, or easy, sell for Precursor’s investors, who’ve given the company $15.3 million for its first fund.

Why strike out on your own with a new fund?

The big observation for me was that all the micro VC funds are really big now and they’ve stopped doing classic seed-stage funding. The goal for Precursor is to write checks in the range of $150,000 to $250,000 to teams that have maybe two founders and a prototype and probably not much in the way of a launched product or traction, with about 20 percent of the capital set aside to participate in [slightly more mature] companies that are maybe raising $2 million on a $6 million [pre-money] valuation.

How many companies do you think you can support with this new fund?

The idea is to write 18 to 20 checks per year, so I’ve made 50 investments over the last two years, including [as I was raising this fund].

And investors didn’t think that was too much, that you were spreading your investments too thin? Why not go in the exact opposite direction and make lesser, more concentrated bets?

For one thing, because there is so little institutional capital at the pre-seed stage, I felt like I could be more aggressive. Also, because of the rising cost of doing business in San Francisco, and because a lot of the founders I back don’t need to be here, I’ve encouraged many of them to stay where they are — in Tampa and Raleigh and Charleston and Baltimore. And it’s pretty cool to see how much more capital efficient they can be in these regions with $150,000 to $250,0000 in backing.

Are you leading most of these rounds?

I didn’t think we’d lead, but we do lead a lot, because without us, these rounds don’t come together. It’s sort of like, everyone is in for $25,000, but no one wants to issue terms. Believing in people early and being able to issue terms helps rounds come together.

More here.

New Fundings

CompareEuropeGroup, a 1.5-year-old, London-based company that uses machine learning and other algorithms to sort through and search for the best deals for a particular service in real-time, has raised €20 million ($21 million) in Series A funding. ACE & Company led the round, with participation from Pacific Century Group, Nova Founders Capital, SBI Holdings, Zynga cofounder Mark Pincus, investor Peter Thiel and others. TechCrunch has the story here.

EasyStack, a two-year-old, Beijing, China-based open-source enterprise cloud platform and services company, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by Cash Capital, with participation from several RMB funds. China Money Network has more here.
ezCater, a 10-year-old, Boston, Ma.-based nationwide marketplace for business catering, raised $35 million in funding led by Iconiq Capital, with participation from earlier backer Insight Venture Partners. The company has now raised $70 million altogether. More here.
FarmLogs, a four-year-old, Ann Arbor, Mi.-based company whose technology helps farmers monitor and measure their crops, predict profits, manage risks from weather and pests, has raised $22 million in Series C funding led by Naspers Ventures, with participation from Drive Capital, Huron River Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners, SV Angel and individual investors, including Y Combinator president Sam Altman. TechCrunch has more here.

HOOQ, a two-year-old, Singapore-based Netflix challenger in Southeast Asia, has raised $25 million in new funding from earlier backers Singtel, Sony Pictures and Warner Brothers. It has now raised roughly $95 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

iZettle, a 6.5-year-old, Stockholm, Swedish-based mobile payments company whose card reader works with your smartphone or tablet, has raised €60 million ($63 million) in new funding, including €45 million in the form of debt from Victory Park Capital, and €15 million from earlier backers, including Intel, Index Ventures, MasterCard and American Express. TechCrunch has more here.

Kuli Kuli, a five-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based food startup that’s selling a West African crop known as moringa as both a powder supplement and a health food bar, has raised $4.25 million in Series A fudning led by Kellogg Company’s new venture arm, eighteen94 capital. Other participants include S2G Ventures and InvestEco, along with individual angels. TechCrunch has more here.

Revl, a two-year-old, London-based event-discovery marketplace that uses peer-to-peer recommendations, has raised £2.4 million ($2.9 million) in seed funding from unnamed individual investors. TechCrunch has more here.

SmarterHQ, a six-year-old, Indianapolis, In.-based contextual marketing technology company that powers real-time individualized campaigns for Bloomingdales, Eddie Bauer, and Kate Spade among others, has raised $13 million in new funding led by Spring Lake Equity, with participation from earlier backers Simon Venture Group and Battery Ventures. The company has now raised $33.6 million altogether. More here.

Velocidi, a six-year-old, New York-based media and marketing intelligence platform, has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Pilot Growth Equity, with participation from Neuberger Berman Private Equity Funds. SiliconAngle has more here.

New Funds

Correlation Ventures, an 11-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based venture capital firm that leverages predictive analytics to make co-investments (for example, it says it has more than 17,000 venture financings in its database of companies that have exited since 2006), just closed its second fund with $200 million. More here.

Thayer Ventures, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based venture capital capital firm that’s focused on hospitality and travel, is beginning the process of raising a third fund, and it’s targeting $100 million. Some of its portfolio companies include the travel planning site HipMunk and Traxo, an online travel service that organizes users’ personal travel information. The firm had reportedly raised roughly $15 million for its second fund. More here.


Alibaba is offering $2.6 billion to fully acquire Intime, a company in which  Alibaba bought a stake for $692 million nearly three years ago. Intime operates 29 department stores and 17 shopping malls across urban China and highlights the new focus of e-commerce giants on offline channels. TechCrunch has more here.
The crowdfunding platform GoFundMe has acquired CrowdRise, a fundraising platform for charities and other non-profits, as well as fundraising events, Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. CrowdRise had raised around $25 million in funding, including from Union Square Ventures, Index Ventures, and Spark Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Publicly traded YCoupa Software, which makes cloud-based spend management software, has substantially all of the assets of London-based Spend360 International, which help companies digitize antiquated processes for data classification. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. More here.


Swiss designer Yves Behar is listed on a patent that was granted to Uber yesterday for a thin, light-up placard designed to be displayed on the “roof of a vehicle or suitably dimensioned mobile environment.” (Like, yes, a taxi.) TechCrunch has more here.

DoubleDutch, a five-year-old startup providing mobile apps and analytics for events and conferences, just announced another round of layoffs, affecting roughly 40 percent its workforce. Around 70 positions were eliminated. TechCrunch has more here.

Daniel Gross, the founder of the Y Combinator-backed startup Cue, a search engine for personal content that sold to Apple, is joining Y Combinator as a partner. TechCrunch has more here.

Flipkart, India’s biggest e-commerce company, has named its first non-founder CEO: former Tiger Global executive Kalyan Krishnamurthy. Quartz has more here.

The grocery deliver startup Instacart is cutting worker pay again in at least four cities. Recode has more here.

John MacFarlane resigned yesterday as chief executive of Sonos and has been replaced by one of his deputies, Patrick Spence. MacFarlane has also left the company’s board of directors. The New York Times has more here.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has hired former Obama adviser David Plouffe away from Uber to work on his social advocacy organization, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. CNBC has more here.
Major switcheroo at Tesla Motors: Sterling Anderson, Tesla’s director of autopilot programs since November 2015, has left the company. Meanwhile, Chris Lattner, who led the creation of Apple’s Swift software programming language, is now Tesla’s vice president of autopilot software. Bloomberg has more here.


Obvious Ventures in San Francisco is hiring for another senior associate position; this time, the new hire will be working closely with managing director Vishal Vasishth. You can learn more here.

Essential Reads

About that giant Softbank tech fund, bankers who are advising it say that more than three-quarters of it will be funneled into larger investments in private and public markets rather than into start-ups.

If a Best Buy technician is a paid FBI informant, are his computer searches legal?

Your next iPhone might be made of stainless steel.


It’s not just Altaba; Fortune looks at seven other terrible company name changes.

The preposterous success story of America’s pillow king.

Retail Therapy

We’re definitely going to be needing one of these.

StrictlyVC: January 10, 2017

Hi, happy Tuesday, everyone! Tons of news to track today, so let’s dive right in.

Top News in the A.M.

Apple and Zeiss, an old-line Germany-based company that makes optical systems, industrial  measurements, and medical devices, are working together on augmented reality optics, says blogger and tech evangelist Robert Scoble.

That Strange New Lawsuit Against Investor Michael Goguen was Just Dropped

Early last month, we told you about a bizarre new lawsuit involving longtime venture capitalist Michael Goguen, whose long career at Sequoia Capital ended early last year after he was sued in a salacious breach of contract suit that accused him of sexually mistreating a woman named Amber Baptiste, then refusing to honor an elaborate financial arrangement they’d made.

Baptiste and Goguen are set to meet in court this coming May. But the newer suit, filed the first week of December by a former acquaintance named Bryan Nash, was just dropped — and not surprisingly given the circumstances.

According to Nash’s suit, he first met Goguen in 1994 and they became “friends.” As Nash and Goguen’s “friendship developed,” they enjoyed “joint family gatherings,” took “vacations together,” went “mountain biking together,” and also exercised together, it said.

After skipping over two decades (that’s not an exaggeration), Nash’s suit proceeded to claim that last year, Goguen agreed to pay Nash $15 million — and an eventual $19 million altogether — for “unrelated professional and personal assistance to Goguen.” The issue at the crux of the suit was that “before the funds were deposited through the wire transfer,” Goguen then “withheld, or revoked” the transfer.

None of Nash’s complaint added up, as you’ve probably surmised yourself, but that didn’t stop a Mission Viejo, Ca.-based personal injury law firm from agreeing to represent Nash in his lawsuit.

At least, until yesterday.

More here.

New Fundings

Aledade, a two-year-old, Bethesda, Md.-based services and software company that offers analytics and other IT meant to support accountable health care, has raised $20 million in funding led by Biomatics Capital. More here.

The Athletic, a year-old, Chicago-based subscription sports website that was originally backed by Precursor Ventures, Y Combinator and other early-stage investors, has just raised another $2.3 million in seed funding led by Courtside Ventures, with participation from Advancit Capital, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investors, Luminari Capital, and others. FinSMEs has more here.

Choozle, a 4.5-year-old, Denver-based real-time digital marketing platform, has raised $2.4 million Series A-1 funding from Great Oaks Venture Capital, Gemini Group, and other, unnamed investors. VentureBeat has more here.

Cloud Elements, a 4.5-year-old, Denver-based cloud API integration service, has raised $13 million in Series B funding led by Harbert Partners, with participation from Rally Ventures, Access Ventures and Grotech Ventures. The company has now raised more than $21 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Ivantis, a 10-year-old Irvine, Ca.-based device company focused on eye health (it has developed a stent meant to lower eye pressure in people with glaucoma), has raised $25 million in Series C funding led by RA Capital ManagementMérieux Développement also joined the round, as did earlier investors. More here.

Kaminario, a six-year-old, Needham, Ma.-based all-flash storage company, has raised $75 million in new funding led by the private equity firm Waterwood, with participation from new and earlier investors. The company has now raised $218 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Kwipped, a five-year-old, Wilmington, N.C.-based online B2B equipment rental marketplace, has raised more than $700,000 in funding led by VentureSouth. FinSMEs has more here.

Lalamove, a three-year-old, Hong Kong-based on-demand logistics company, has raised $30 million in Series B funding led by Xianghe Capital, with participation from (the ill-advisedly named) Blackhole Capital and earlier investors MindWorks Ventures and Crystal Stream. TechCrunch has more here.

Logtrust, a 5.5-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based big data analytics platform, has raised $11 million in new funding from Kibo Ventures, IPW and Atlantic Bridge Capital. More here.

Mighty AI, a two-year-old, Seattle-based startup that uses humans to fine-tune artificial intelligence engines and was known until today as Spare5, has raised $14 million in Series A1 funding led by Intel Capital, with participation from GV, Accenture Ventures and earlier investors Foundry Group, Madrona Venture Group and New Enterprise Associates.The Seattle Times has more here.
MobileCause, a 12-year-old, Calabasas, Ca.-based cloud-based fundraising and communication platform for nonprofits, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Level Equity. More here.

PeraHealth, a nine-year-old, Charlotte, N.C.-based company that makes predictive, real-time clinical surveillance software, has raised $14 million in new funding from the growth equity firm Mainsail Partners. More here.

Phantom, a 2.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based cybersecurity company, has raised $13.5 million in Series B funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, with participation from earlier investors TechOperators Venture Capital, Blackstone Group, In-Q-Tel, and Rein Capital among others. More here.

Resy, a two-year-old, New York-based restaurant booking app, has raised $13 million in funding led by Airbnb — itself of the most richly funded startups in the world, which will begin offering the service to allow travelers to make reservations beginning in April. Other participants in the round include First Data Corp., RSE Ventures, and Lerer Hippeau Ventures. The WSJ has the story here.
Scandit, an eight-year-old, Zurich, Switzerland-based mobile barcode scanning company, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding from Atomico. VentureBeat has more here.

SnapMD, a three-year-old, L.A.-based company that makes telemedicine software that allows for virtual care management, has added $3.25 million to a previously closed Series A round. The new infusion brings the round to $9.15 million. Investors include the original syndicate, including Shea Ventures and TYLT VenturesMore here.

New Funds

According to reporter Dan Primack, who launched his Pro Rata newsletter today (sign-up is here), the three-year-old, San Francisco-based hardware incubator Highway1 is raising its first official venture capital fund from outside investors — and with a $100 million target. Highway1 was launched by the custom manufacturing company PCH International.

The Knight Foundation, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and other investors have formed a new, $27 million fund. The big idea behind it: to promote research into artificial intelligence in the public interest. TechCrunch has more here.


British online fashion retailer is a step closer to acquiring the brand and customer database of 11-year-old, L.A.-based fashion retailer Nasty Gal, which filed for bankruptcy protection back in November. Boohoo is bidding $20 million. TechCrunch has more here.
Alphabet is reportedly in talks to sell Skybox Imaging — the satellite business it acquired for $500 million less than three years ago — to Planet, the satellite imagine startup formerly known as Planet Labs. Bloomberg calls it another sign the technology giant is ratcheting back grand ambitions to blanket the globe with internet service. More here.

Fitbit, the wearable fitness device company, has acquired a young “affordable luxury” smart watch brand called Vector for its software platform and design team. Vector had raised $2 million from Gecad Group. TechCrunch has more here.


Atomico, the European venture firm launched by Skype cofounder Niklas Zennstrom, has promoted principals Carolina Brochado and Teddie Wardi to partner. TechCrunch has more here.

Robin Bienfait has joined the Atlanta-based venture firm Valor Ventures as a partner. She was previously the CIO and chief innovation officer at Samsung.
Yumin Choi has joined Bain Capital Ventures as a managing director, leading the firm’s healthcare investments. Choi will be based in Boston and joins from healthcare specialist HLM Venture Partners, where he’d led and managed early- and growth-stage investments.

Crosslink Ventures has two new partners: Omar El-Ayat, who has has been promoted to partner and Matt Bigge, who just joined the firm. El-Ayat had joined Crosslink in 2011 and was made a vice president in 2014. Bigge was previously a partner at Paladin Capital, where he focused on enterprise and industrial infrastructure with a particular emphasis on security.

Mike Dempsey has joined the New York-based early-stage venture firm Compound (formerly Metamorphic Ventures) as a principal. Dempsey most recently worked at Rothenberg Ventures and was previously an analyst with the private research and database company CB Insights.

Jocelyn Goldfein has joined the three-year-old, early-stage venture firm Zetta Venture Partners as a partner. Goldfein was most recently an engineering director at Facebook for four years and, before that, a VP of engineering at VMware. According to Fortune, she’s looking to back AI companies specifically (for now, at least).

Elise Hebb has joined Maveron as partner and COO. For the last nine-plus years, Hebb was with Madrona Venture Group, where she managed investor relations and business development. Earlier in her career, Hebb was also an LP at the University of Washington. GeekWire has more here.

Ellen Pao — the former interim Reddit CEO, former partner at Kleiner Perkins and the co-founder of the diversity and inclusion organization Project Include — has joined the Kapor Center for Social Impact. More specifically, Pao will serve as Kapor Capital’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, as well as a venture partner. TechCrunch has more here.

Essential Reads

If the Verizon deal goes through, Yahoo is renaming itself Altaba, and half its current board members, including Marissa Mayer, will step down. The new brand is a play on the single biggest asset that would remain of Yahoo if its deal with Verizon closes: a 15 percent stake in the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. Altaba would also own a 35.5 percent stake in Yahoo Japan. More here.

It’s a new game for Uber drivers if New York passes this law.


U2 is setting out on a 25-date stadium tour where it will perform its “Joshua Tree” album in its entirety each night. [Happy sigh.]

Late-night hosts had a field day yesterday, after the Donald complained that Meryl Streep is “overrated.”

The most dangerous U.S. cities for pedestrians. (TLDR: Don’t walk in Florida.)

Retail Therapy

The Leave Me Alone Sweater. (Hey, it takes strong messaging sometimes.)

StrictlyVC: January 9, 2017

Hi, everyone, hope you’re having a great Monday. Sorry we’re publishing so late — busy morning.

Before we get into the newsletter, we have a lot of great news! First, Amy Chang, long the global head of product at Google and now founder and CEO of Accompany — considered among the most promising startups to publicly launch last year — is now coming to speak at our upcoming StrictlyVC event; she’ll be talking with the Aileen Lee, founder of Cowboy Ventures. (You might have read most recently about Chang’s appointment in November as Cisco’s youngest board member.)

Also(!) coming to speak at our upcoming event: Vivek Ramaswamy, a millennial who has been shaking up the biotech world since creating his New York-based company, Roivant, to acquire drug candidates that have been forgotten or abandoned. Investors love him for it; they’ve given him more than $1 billion in funding to date. In exchange, Ramaswamy has delivered them the biggest biotech IPOs in 2015 and 2016 through two spin-off companies created by Roivant. Come learn more about what he’s trying to pull off.

And there is more! Emily Weiss, founder of the super hot cosmetics company Glossier, is also coming in from New York and you will not want to miss her (especially if, like us, you have become addicted to her beauty products). She’ll be sitting down with general partner Eric Liaw of IVP to talk about how Glossier has managed to build a cult following — and what happens next.

We have a limited number of seats left with 30 days to go. If you don’t yet have a ticket, please do not wait. In addition to our newest guests, Brad Feld of Foundry Group and political strategist and investor Bradley Tusk will be speaking at the event. It’s going to be amazing evening, people. We’re so excited!

Top News in the A.M.

Trello, a five-year-old, New York-based maker of visual project management software, has been snapped up by publicly traded Atlassian for $425 million, including $360 in cash. The company had raised just $10.3 million from its investors, including Index VenturesSpark Capital and BoxGroup. TechCrunch has more here.

A Startup that Makes Every Day a Payday Just Raised a $22M Series A

What if you didn’t have to wait every two weeks to receive a paycheck?

What if you could be wired the money you earned almost immediately after a shift?

What if, unlike with payday lenders, you didn’t have to pay interest on those payments? Instead, you were merely encouraged to donate a kind of tip to the company providing you with this service?

That’s the proposition of Activehours, a four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based financial services startup that aims to turn the payroll process on its head — and which just raised $22 million in Series A funding toward that end, led by Matrix Partners.

The company basically serves as kind of ATM, letting consumers who’ve accrued earnings pay for transactions like an unexpected car repair or an overdue bill without being charged onerous overdraft fees from their bank or else a high-interest payday lender. Activehours doesn’t charge interest, either, but rather invites people to provide it with a non-obligatory tip that they think is fair for the service.

Activehours doesn’t take into consideration a person’s credit history. It doesn’t ask for a social security number. Anyone who has a checking account and a job can use the service, regardless of their employer, though Activehours has struck partnerships with companies, including Sears Holdings (which owns Sears and Kmart), to make it easier for its employees to access their accrued pay before their paychecks arrive. The company also also teamed up with Uber, whose drivers need only connect their bank information and Uber account information with Activehours in order to cash out after a shift.

In another interesting twist, anyone on the platform can also “tip” on behalf of someone else on the platform, an act that’s done entirely anonymously. Think of it like paying a toll booth operator for your own car, as well as for the car that’s behind you.)

“This is a service for the barista, or the person working in bookstore, or a teller at a bank,” says Matrix general partner Dana Stalder who led the deal for his firm. “It is the 50 percent of [the U.S. population] that has revolving debt on their credit cards — plus another big cross section of those who don’t.”

But no fees? No interest? How can this possibly work as a business, especially as the company scales?

More here.

New Fundings

Blue Pillar, an 11-year-old, Indianapolis, In..-based maker of distributed energy asset management software, has raised $10 million in funding from GXP Investments, Elevate Ventures, EnerTech Capital, Allos Ventures, Arsenal Venture Partners, and Claremont Creek Ventures. More here.

Cavion, a 13-year-old, Charlottesville, Va.-based clinical stage pharmaceutical company that’s developing cancer-treatment drugs, has raised $26.1 million funding co-led by Lilly Ventures and Novartis Venture Fund, with participation from Enso Ventures and earlier investors. More here.

CiVi Biopharma, a year-old, San Francisco-based biopharmaceutical company that’s developing treatments for cardiometabolic diseases, has raised $40 million in Series A funding from Tavistock Group’s Boxer Capital. More here.

Eleven James, a three-year-old, New York-based startup that rents out high-end watches for an annual membership fee, has raised $9 million in fresh fund, according to an SEC filing first flagged by Fortune. The company’s earlier investors include BoxGroup, WGI Group, and numerous individual investors.

MatriSys Bioscience, a two-year-old, La Jolla, Ca.-based company that’s developing microbiome skin care treatments, has raised $1.5 million in funding led by Tech Coast Angels. More here.

Microbion, a 35-year-old, Bozeman, Mo.-based biopharmaceutical company that’s developing treatments for antibiotic-resistant infections, has raised $25 million in funding from the Vancouver-based healthcare investor Quark Venture and Hong Kong bank GF Securities. More here.

MyTomorrows, a four-year-old, Amsterdam-based online platform that helps patients and physicians track treatments, has raised €10 million ($10.5 million) in funding co-led by EQT Ventures and Octopus Ventures, with participation from Balderton Capital and Sofinnova Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Satsuma Pharmaceuticals, a new, San Francisco-based pharmaceutical company that’s focused on treating acute migraines, has raised $12 million in Series A funding co-led by RA Capital Management and TPG Biotech. The company was just spun out of Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories. More here.

SiteOne, a six-year-old, Bozeman, Mo.-based developer of a pain medication alternative to opioids, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Amgen, with participation from Next Frontier Capital, 2M Companies, Mission Bay Capital, Sears Capital Management, Biobrit, and Z Investments. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle has more here.

Team8, a 2.5-year-old, Israel-based cybersecurity startup studio based, has an undisclosed amount of funding from Microsoft and Qualcomm. Fortune has more here.

New Funds

Cendana Capital, the San Francisco-based fund of funds that invests in a wide number of “micro VC” funds, including Forerunner Ventures, Bowery Capital, and Engineering Capital, has raised $10 million for a new fund called (for now) Cendana Kendall. The SEC filing is here.

PivotNorth Capital, a Menlo Park, Ca.-based seed-stage venture firm, has closed its third fund with $35 million, according to a report in peHUB. The firm had closed its second fund with $35 million, as well. More on the new fund here.

(Other) Exits

Amazon Web Services has quietly acquired a two-year-old, San Diego-based cyber security firm called that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze user behavior around a company’s key IP tostop targeted attacks before valuable customer data can be swiped. The price, reports TechCrunch: $19 million. The company had raised just $2.3 million from investors. More here., now a subsidiary of Walmart Stores, last week acquired ShoeBuy, a Boston-based ecommerce site selling shoes, apparel and accessories for a reported $70 million. ShoeBuy was previously owned by IAC. The idea is to help challenge Amazon in online apparel sales. GeekWire has more here.


Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma met with Donald Trump today to discuss Ma’s plans to create 1 million U.S. jobs by growing trade between U.S. small businesses and Chinese consumers. USA Today has more here.

Essential Reads

Uber has taken the wraps off a new website that will offer access to its data around traffic flow in cities where it operates, intended for use by city planners and researchers looking into ways to improve urban mobility. TechCrunch has more here.

Facebook is going to start showing ads in the middle of its videos and sharing the money with publishers


How to stay at Four Seasons resorts for less than $350(ish) a night.

Here’s where Goldman Sachs is telling clients to invest in equities.

What a hard hit can do to a player’s brain.

The cost of raising a kid? On average, it’s 233,610, says new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Retail Therapy

Leopard-print reflective stickers for your bike. Lurve.