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StrictlyVC: January 10, 2018

Well, hello!

 

Top News

 

Seven people had to receive medical attention after an iPhone exploded in a Swiss Apple store.

 

major power outage has hit CES, the consumer electronics show, in the latest bit of chaos to mar the Las Vegas event.

 

Ford just became the latest automaker to be accused of lying about its diesel efficiencies.

 

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Goldman Clients are Giving This Startup $250 Million to Pour Into Commercial Real Estate Deals

 

Cadre, a three-year-old, New York-based online platform helping accredited investors delve into commercial real estate deals in what it claims is a far more transparent way, has received a big vote of confidence from Goldman Sachs.

 

According to CEO Ryan Williams, Goldman’s private wealth clients are committing $250 million to the platform, money that will get funneled directly into a portfolio of real estate stakes assembled by Cadre.

 

The move isn’t a complete surprise for numerous reasons, beginning with Cadre’s ties to Goldman. Williams spent a couple of years at the bank right after getting his undergraduate degree from Harvard. Goldman also participated in the company’s $65 million Series C round, which was led by Andreessen Horowitz and closed last summer.

 

Cadre, which was cofounded by Joshua and Jared Kushner, has also been amassing a star cast of executives, including, most notably, Michael Fascitelli, formerly the CEO of Vornado Realty Trust. Fascitelli, who’d written an early seed-size check to Cadre, took over Cadre’s investment committee as its chair and senior adviser a year ago and he now approves all deals.

 

Either way, for Cadre — which invests directly in real estate assets, then passes its investment on to its clients for an upfront fee and a recurring subscription rate — the tie-up is a major coup. Not only does Cadre benefit from brand association with Goldman, but Goldman’s investor pool helps it move into new phases of its business, one of which seems to be creating a secondary marketplace.

 

More here.

 

New Fundings

 

Arbour Group, a 27-year-old, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based maker of regulatory compliance software and services for the life sciences industry, has raised an undisclosed amount from funding from Keystone CapitalMore here.

 

Arctic Wolf Networks, a five-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based security operations center-as-a-service company, has raised $16 million in funding. Sonae Investment Management led the round and was joined Lightspeed Venture Partners,Redpoint Ventures and Knollwood Investment AdvisoryMore here.

 

Black Fish, a Nanjing, China-based consumer loan platform, has raised $145 million in Series A funding from Lightspeed China PartnersGobi Partners,Morningside Venture CapitalJAFCO AsiaFullcent Capital and Dianping.com founder Zhang Tao. China Money Network has more here.

 

CloudLex, a two-year-old, New York-based maker of cloud software for personal injury law firms, has raised $4 million in funding led by Aligned Partners. NewsCenter.io has a bit more here.

 

FieldIn, a five-year-old, Israel-based startup that integrates all data from a farming operation into one control center, allowing farmers to monitor how agronomic decisions were executed, has raised $4 million in funding co-led by Gal Venturesand Germin8 Ventures. Earlier investors Terra Ventures and the Israel Innovation Authority also joined the round. More here.

 

Igloo Software, a 10-year-old, Kitchener, Ontario-based maker of productivity software, has raise $47 million from Frontier CapitalMore here.

 

Ladder, a 2.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based startup that sells instant life insurance, has raised $30 million in Series B funding led by RRE Ventures, with participation from Thomvest Ventures and earlier backers Canaan PartnersLightspeed Venture Partners and Nyca PartnersMore here.

 

MOD Pizza, a 10-year-old, Bellevue, Wa.-based fast-growing casual pizza chain, has raised $73 million in funding. Investors include PWP Growth EquityFidelity Management & Research CompanyKeybanc Capital Markets,  SunTrust Robinson Humphrey and Raymond James. Business Insider has more here.

 

Motosumo, a five-year-old, Denmark-based maker of smartphone software that enables far-flung gyms or gym members to conduct group training, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding, including from Vedere Ventures and Promentum Equity PartnersMore here.

 

NiYO Solutions, a two-year-old, Bangalore, India-based fintech startup for salaried employees, has raised $13.2 million in Series A funding from Social CapitalJS Capital (the family office of Jonathan Soros), and Horizons Ventures, with participation from earlier backer Prime Venture Partners. The company has now raise more than $14 million altogether. More here.

 

Nozomi Networks, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based cybersecurity startup focused around industrial control systems, has raised $15 million in Series B financing led by the Invenergy Future Fund, with participation from THI Investments. Earlier backers GGV CapitalLux Capital and Planven Investments also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $23.8 million. More here.

 

Ovation.io, an eight-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based clinical laboratory information and commercialization platform, has raised $1.85 million in funding co-led byStageDotO and Longfellow VenturesMore here.

 

Petal, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based credit card startup that’s targeting consumers without a credit history, has raised $13 million in Series A funding led byValar Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Reviver Auto, a nearly nine-year-old Foster City, Ca.-based company that produces a digital license plate (it’s trying to create a network of connected vehicles via the technology), has raised $11.1 million in funding. ACK Group led the round, with participation from WRV and other, unnamed individual investors. More here.

 

Sheprd, a 1.5-year-old, Newton, Ma.-based on-demand school bus, has raised $1 million in funding from InMotion Ventures, Jaguar Land Rover’s venture capital arm. More here.

 

SkySpecs, a five-year-old, Ann Arbor, Mi.-based automated infrastructure inspection company, has raised $8 million in Series B funding, including fromStatkraft VenturesUL VenturesCapital MidwestVenture Investors, andHuron River VenturesMore here.

 

TAI Diagnostics, a two-year-old, Milwaukee, Wi.-based maker of non-invasive diagnostics tests that monitor the health of transplanted organs, has raised $10 million in funding from  undisclosed investors. The company has now raised $21 million altogether. More here.

 

YieldStreet, a two-year-old, New York-based startup that packages and sells business loans to investors, has closed on $113 million in funding, including $12.8 million in Series A funding co-led by Greycroft Partners and Raine Ventures, and a revolving credit facility of $100 million from an unnamed New York-based family office. More here.

 

New Funds

 

The world’s largest automaker, Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi, has launched a $1 billion corporate venture capital fund to focus on investments in “new mobility” including electrification, autonomous systems, network connectivity and artificial intelligence. It’s called Alliance Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

 

AngelList cofounder Naval Ravikant has raised $35 million for a new fund calledSpearhead that plans to groom tech investors and invest in very early-stage startups, according to The Information, which says Ravikant has personally invested in the new fund and that the Boston-based early-stage venture firm Accompliceput up 25 percent of the capital.

 

Parker Thompson, an alum of AngelList and 500 Startups’ accelerator, is also raising a fund of about $40 million to groom venture capitalists, reports The Information.

 

Sponsored By . . .

 

StrictlyVC is sponsored this week by Meld Valuation, a premiere independent valuation firm. We care about understanding the unique risk profile of your situation and most importantly making the quantitative reflect the qualitative story. Contact us today to learn about our services and how we can help you with everything from cap table management to complex valuation engagements.

 

Exits

 

Twenty-year-old Akamai Technologies has reportedly hired Morgan Stanley to explore a strategic alternatives, according to Bloomberg. The company has been under activist pressure from Paul Singer’s Elliott Associates, which holds a 6.5 percent stake.

 

 

People

 

Jeff Bezos is the richest person in the world, begging the question: what good will he do with all that money?

 

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has given two potential successors new high-profile titles at Berkshire Hathaway.

 

Kevin Harrington, a senior aide to the Trump administration who’d previously worked for Peter Thiel both at Clarium Capital and Thiel Macro, reportedly suggested withdrawing U.S. troops from Eastern Europe last year in a bid to gain favor with Russian President Vladimir Putin. [Spits out coffee.]

 

Last week, Billboard reported Jimmy Iovine, who helped sell Beats to Apple in 2014, was set to leave Apple in August. Now Iovine is refuting those rumors.

 

Google Fiber, once one of the internet company’s most audacious projects, just lost another executive as the business struggles to gain traction: Gabriel Stricker, who joined the company from Twitter in late 2015, just joined the gaming company Niantic. CNBC has more here.

 

Jobs

 

Aflac, the insurance giant, is looking to hire a senior associate. The job is in the Bay Area.

 

Sponsored By . . .

 

Founded by two MIT grads in 2014, Milwaukee-based Bright Cellars has exploded to 40+ employees and is carving a new path for venture-backed startups in the midwest. Bright Cellars’ subscription wine service uses questions like “what’s your favorite type of chocolate” to match members with wines that match their personal taste. Take the quiz to see your wine matches.

 

Essential Reads

 

The global power needed to create cryptocurrencies this year could rival the entire electricity consumption of Argentina. More here.

 

What’s Slack doing with your data?

 

Detours

 

Unpaid internships are back. (Sorry, college students.)

 

Five questions to ask at your next (paid) job interview.

 

The story behind the pole-dancing robots that everyone’s talking about at CES.

 

Retail Therapy

 

Harsh! The 2018 Audi S4 is a perfectly nice car if you aren’t looking to attract any attention to yourself, says Bloomberg.

 




StrictlyVC: December 6, 2017

Hello, dear readers, we know it’s the middle of the night for many of you, but it’s another day of planes and automobiles in our world as we head back to the U.S., so we have to publish now or else you’ll be getting this thing at dinnertime. More tomorrow.:)

 

Top News

 

A large Uber shareholder has made an investment in chief U.S. rival Lyft, part of the latest twist in what Recode aptly describes as “the entangled web of ride-sharing deals.” Lyft said yesterday that Fidelity is joining an expanded financing round that’s being led by Alphabet affiliate CapitalG and now values the company at $11.5 billion.

 

Bitcoin just zoomed past $12,000.

 

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New Fundings

 

ChemomAb, a six-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based biopharmaceutical firm, has raised $10 million in funding led by Peter Thiel and earlier investor OrbiMed Israel. Other backers in the round include SBI Japan-Israel Innovation Fundand Milestone Venture. Globes has more here.

 

Enveil, a year-old, Fulton, Md.-based data security company, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from In-Q-Tel, with which it has also struck a strategic partnership. More here.

 

Guardian Optical Technologies, a three-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based sensor technology maker for automobile manufacturers, has raised $5.1 million in Series A funding from Maniv Mobility and Mirai Creation Fund. Globes has more here.

 

Hellobike, a year-old, Shanghai, China-based bike-sharing outfit, raised $350 million in its latest funding round from investors that include Alibaba’s Ant Financial. China Money Network has more here.

 

LaunchDarkly, a three-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based feature management platform, has raised $21 million in Series B funding led by Redpoint Ventures andVertex. CNBC has more here.

 

Leapmotor, a two-year-old, Hangzhou, China-based electric vehicle company founded by Dahua Technology, has raised an undisclosed amount of “pre-A” stage funding led by Sequoia Capital China. China Money Network has more here.

 

Noodle Partners, a four-year-old, New York-based startup that helps colleges create and manage online and hybrid programs, has raised $14 million in Series A funding led by Owl Ventures. EdSurge has more here.

 

NS8, a 1.5-year-old, Herndon, Va.-based startup that helps aims to protect online companies from fraud, has raised $7.5 million in funding led by Arbor Ventures, and was joined by investors including TDF Ventures and Hanna Ventures. NewsCenter.io has a bit more here.

 

Pilotworks, a New York-based a community of food entrepreneurs formerly known as FoodWorks, has raised $13 million in Series A funding led by Techstars Ventures and Acre Venture Partners, with participation from other, unnamed investors. More here.

 

Rani Therapeutics, a five-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based biotech startup focused on converting injectable drugs into oral drugs, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from the publicly traded biopharmaceutical company Shire as part of a broader research partnership. Rani previously raised around $100 million in venture funding. More here.

 

Simplus, a three-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based startup that provides sales quoting and other related software for Salesforce users, has raised $9.3 million in Series B funding led by Epic Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Salesforce Ventures and Cross Creek Advisors. The company also secured $8.5 million in new debt financing from Silicon Valley Bank. Utah Business has more here.

 

Stateless, a 1.5-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based firm allowing network functions to be consumed through an “as-a-service” model, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding led by Speedinvest, with participation from TechstarsEVO Venture Partners,PV Ventures, and Service Provider CapitalMore here.

 

WM Motor Technology, a three-year-old, Beijing, China-based electric vehicle startup, has raised an undisclosed amount of new funding from BaiduAmiba Capital and Susquehanna International Group. Reuters has more here.

 

 

New Funds

 

Jump Capital, a five-year-old, Chicago-based venture firm, has raised a $100 million venture fund, shows a new SEC formMore here.

 

Red & Blue Ventures, a Philadelphia-based seed fund focused on backing faculty, alums, and current students of the University of Pennsylvania , has raised $13.9 million for its inaugural fund, according to an SEC filing that shows a $20 million target. More here.

 

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IPOs

 

Go-Jek, Indonesia’s first billion-dollar tech startup, has a ‘set plan’ to become a listed company, Chief Executive Officer Nadiem Makarim said. “We are definitely going to IPO,” Makarim said at Bloomberg’s Year Ahead Asia Conference in Jakarta Wednesday. The initial public offering is expected “hopefully within the next few years,” he said. Bloomberg has more here.

 

British car insurer Sabre has priced its IPO at the middle of its targeted range, a move that will give the company a market value of £575 million. “Conditional dealings” in the shares start  this morning, with full trading expected on December 11, says the Financial Times.

 

Hong Kong is on track to lose its much-coveted crown as the world’s top IPO market as the year draws to a close, with the latest figures showing that total funds raised in HK have dropped 48 percent compared with 12 months ago, leaving the city ranked third behind New York and Shanghai. South China Morning Post hasmore here.

 

Exits

 

It’s official. Mashable, the digital media publisher, has been sold to Ziff Davis, a digital media subsidiary of tech company J2, for less than $50 million, says Recode, adding that its new owners plan to lay off about 50 of the site’s employees.. More here.

 

Sprout Social, a seven-year-old maker of social media management, analytics and advocacy software, has acquired social analytics firm Simply Measured. Sprout Social has raised roughly $61 million from investors, shows Crunchbase. Simply Measured, which is also seven years old, had raised $29 million.

 

People

 

Baidu’s former M&A director, Peter Fang, has joined Sinovation Ventures as a partner, where he’ll focus on AI and other relevant technologies, according to a Sinovation announcement. Fang previously worked for Sinovation from 2011 to 2014. More here.

 

FirstMark Capital, the New York-based venture firm, has hired Beth Ferreira as a managing director. Ferreira was most recently a managing partner at WME Ventures. She is also, notably, the second female managing partner that FirstMark has brought aboard recently. Its first female MD, Catherine Ulrich — who was previously the chief product officer at Shutterstock and, before that, Weight Watchers — joined the firm exactly two months ago.

 

Suneel Gupta, a former Groupon VP turned founder whose nutrition coaching app, Rise Labs, sold last year to One Medical, is planning to run for Congress in Michigan.

 

Foursquare’s VP of business development, Mike Harkey, has left to join Google as its director of global product partnerships. Harkey had spent roughly five years with the social app company. More here.

 

Shervin Pishevar, co-founder of Sherpa Capital and co-founder of Hyperloop One, is taking a leave of absence from both companies, as well as from his board responsibilities at Sherpa’s portfolio companies, following sexual assault and harassment allegations. More here.

 

 

Jobs

 

Google is looking to hire a corporate development strategy and scouting principal. The job is in Mountain View, Ca.

 

Data

 

A look at the ten best U.S. tech companies to work for, per Glassdoor.

 

Essential Reads

 

Google and Amazon are punishing their own customers in a bitter feud.

 

Yahoo’s new owner Oath — which, in turn, is owned by telecom giant Verizon — is now in a legal battle with browser company Mozilla over a search deal that was struck by former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. Recode has more here.

 

 

Detours

 

Which TV actors get paid the most?

 

The best books of 2017.

 

How the index card catalogued the world.

 

 

Retail Therapy

 

Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night Live . . . playing cards!

 




StrictlyVC: November 6, 2017

November 6, 2017

 

Hi, happy Monday, all! Hope you had a wonderful weekend. We’re just back at our hotel in Lisbon for a pit stop after a couple of on-stage interviews that we hope to write up for you shortly. More soon.:)

 

 

Top News

 

More on that potential biggest-takeover-ever-of-a-chipmaker ever: Broadcom has reportedly offered about $105 billion for Qualcomm. Bloomberg has more here.

 

Softbank is losing its patience with Uber, it signaled today on a quarterly earnings briefing today, when it floated the idea that it just might invest in Lyft after all.

 

 

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Tech’s Favorite Royal Has Been Arrested in Saudi Arabia

 

In a move sure to shock the business world, Saudi Arabia announced the arrest of at least eleven princes on Saturday night, including renowned billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, as part of a sweeping corruption investigation.

 

Prince Alwaleed controls the investment firm Kingdom Holding and is one of the world’s richest men, owning or having owned meaningful positions in satellite TV networks, as well as in News Corp. (a stake it has since mostly sold), Citigroup (shares of which it has owned since 1991), and a growing number of tech companies.

 

The prince and Kingdom Holding, of which he owns 95 percent, first invested $300 million in Twitter in 2011, two years before the company went public. In 2015, he invested another $50 million to increase his ownership in Twitter and, as of last year, remained one of the company’s largest shareholders.

 

In 2013, Kingdom also acquired 2.5 percent of China-based retailer JD.Com, which went public on the Nasdaq the following year and whose shares have roughly doubled since.

 

Prince Alwaleed and Kingdom further acquired a stake in the car-hailing company Lyft early last year, buying some of the shares of its earlier investors Andreessen Horowitz and Founders Fund.

 

The prince and other members of his investment company announced in March 2015 that they’d sat down with Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and the company’s chief strategy officer, Imran Khan, about a possible investment in Snap, though several months later, a source close to the prince said Kingdom had no plans to invest.

 

Price Alwaleed first began investing in tech in the late ’90s and has owned shares of both Apple and Ebay for more than 15 years.

 

According to the New York Times, the arrests appear to be a move to consolidate the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a son and the top adviser of King Salman, who had announced the creation of a new anti-corruption committee — headed by the crown prince —  just hours before the arrests were ordered.

 

According to the Times, the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh was subsequently evacuated, possibly to house the arrested royals, and the airport for private planes shuttered, presumably to stop anyone from fleeing the country.

 

More here.

 

 

New Fundings

 

Annoroad, a five-year-old, Beijing, China-based next-generation sequencing company, has raised $105 million in Series C funding led by Ping An Ventures and the Shenzhen GTJA Investment Group, with additional money coming fromSoftBank China Venture CapitalMore here.

 

Aquam, a San Diego, Ca.-based company that helps water and energy companies better understand and assess their pipes and other assets, has raised $26 million in funding from NewWorld Capital Group, with participation from a Credit Suisse advised fund. More here.

 

Auto1 Group, a five-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based online used car marketplace that raised $404 million in debt and equity financing earlier this year, is reportedly in talks with Softbank‘s Vision Fund team about an investment. It would SoftBank’s first major deal in Germany, says DealStreetAsia. More here.

 

CloudSense, an eight-year-old, London-based startup that aims to bring together customers and companies on one commerce platform that’s built on Salesforce, has raised $77 million in growth funding from Vector CapitalMore here.

 

Kaodim, a three-year-old, Malaysia-based service for booking a range of services that include cleaning, moving, gas delivery, appliance care, and even photography, has raised $7 million  led by Square Peg Capital, with participation from 500 StartupsVenturra CapitalEast Ventures and KK Fund. The company has now raised $11.5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

 

LogDNA, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based cloud-based log management system that aggregates application logs in a single platform, has raised $7 million in Series A financing led by earlier investor Initialized Capital, which partly provided the company with $1.3 million in seed funding last year. NewsCenter.io has more here.

 

MetricStream, an 19-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based maker of governance, risk and compliance applications and software, has raised $65 million in funding led byClearlake Capital Group, with participation from EDBI and earlier backersGoldman SachsSageview Capital, and others. More here.

 

Pienso, a 1.5-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y.-based startup aiming to democratize machine learning and make it accessible to people with no prior background in either advanced statistics or machine learning, has raised $2.1 million in seed funding.Eniac Ventures led the round, with participation from SoftTech VCIndicator Ventures and E14 FundMore here.

 

QLess, a 10-year-old, Pasadena, Ca.-based maker of mobile customer queue software that aims to do away with on-hold wait times, has raised $5.5 million in funding from Palisades Growth Capital and Act One Ventures, with participation from earlier investors. More here.

 

 

New Funds

 

The 10-year-old,  European venture capital firm Sunstone Technology Ventures, has closed two new funds totalling €160 million ($185.3 million) in committed capital. More here.

 

 

Exits

 

Another U.K.-based car-buying startup looks to be shutting down. According to TechCrunch, London-based Hellocar is closing its doors, not so long after Rocket Internet pulled the plug on a competitor called Carspring. Hellocar, founded last year, looks to have raised just $1 million in seed funding. More here.

 

 

IPOs

 

Eleven IPOs are scheduled to raise $2 billion in the coming week. Renaissance Capital has the rundown here.

 

 

People

 

William Dudley, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York since 2009, will retire from his position in mid-2018, the bank announced today. Whoever fills the role is expected to be a “key bulwark against Wall Street misbehavior as the Trump administration moves to loosen regulatory oversight of banks,” notes the New York Times.

 

Yuri Milner, the Russian billionaire investor who is widely respected in Silicon Valley for his big, bold bets on Facebook, is now being connected with the Kremlin, which reportedly invested in the powerful social media platform  (and Twitter, too) through shell companies that funded Milner’s efforts. More here.

 

 

Jobs

 

Unity Technologies, whose software reportedly powers half of all new mobile games, is looking to hire a corporate development analyst. The job is in San Francisco.

 

 

Data

 

According to a new survey, roughly 60 percent of people who have Amazon Prime definitely would not buy Amazon Key, a new service with hardware that allows couriers into customers’ homes. Recode has more here.

 

Apple has revealed that “face with tears of joy” is the most popular emoji among English speakers in the United States, followed closely by a red heart, loudly crying face, heart eyes face, face throwing a kiss, face with rolling eyes, skull, smiling face with smiling eyes, weary face, and thinking face. (Hey, someone out there cares about these things.) More here.

 

 

Essential Reads

 

Softbank’s Masayoshi Son just can’t quit Sprint. The WSJ has inside story of how theSprint and T-mobile deal collapsed, again.

 

Despite months of talk about combatting the fraud facing Facebook and other tech companies, their sites remain infected by obvious counterfeits. The New York Times has more here.

 

Startup workers are expected to get some tax relief on their paper wealth if a House Republican tax bill goes through as planned. Bloomberg has more here.

 

Oh. No. WeWork is launching a grade school for “conscious entrepreneurship.”

 

 

Detours

 

Kids, would you please start fighting?

 

Inside the RVs of Silicon Valley.

 

How renting parking spaces can make you rich.

 

 

Retail Therapy

 

Forty-one cocktails you’ll want this fall.

 

These vaunted pastries are also delicious.

 




StrictlyVC: October 30, 2017

October 30, 2017

 

Hi and happy Monday, all.:)

 

What a day in Washington(!). Makes us wish we covered politics, too. (In the meantime, we’re giggling at this and this.)

 

Top News

 

Wow. Netflix just pulled the plug on “House of Cards” following claims by an actor that the show’s star, Kevin Spacey, propositioned him years ago when he was 14 years old. Netflix is reportedly thinking of killing off another Spacey vehicle, about author Gore Vidal, too. Spacey had apologized last night when the allegations first surfaced. Deadline Hollywood has the story here.

 

Coursera, the online education company that has raised more than $200 million in venture capital, has quietly ousted several top-level executives, including the chief marketing and financial officers, according to Recode. More here.

 

 

Sponsored By …

 

StrictlyVC is sponsored this week by “Intangibles” – a podcast about the traits, behaviors, and qualities that entrepreneurs can cultivate to help be successful.  Authors, artists, behavioral psychologists, and academicians dive deep into topics such as strategic thinking, curiosity, creativity, and willpower.  The podcast is created and hosted by Antecedent VenturesSubscribe on iTunes.

 

 

Former Media Honcho Edgar Bronfman Jr. is forming a venture fund to target media investments

 

Former media chief Edgar Bronfman Jr. is starting a venture firm called Waverley Capital with longtime investor Daniel Leff, reports Bloomberg, which says the two are looking to raise up to $100 million. The idea: to target media investments.

 

Media companies are an abiding passion for Bronfman Jr., the former head of Warner Music. He led Seagram, the liquor business built by his grandfather, Samuel, into the entertainment industry — and eventually an ill-fated acquisition in 2000 by France’s Vivendi. Seagram owned Universal Studios and Universal Music Group at the time and sold for $32 billion in an all-stock deal, but Vivendi’s fortune’s abruptly turned, dragged down by the dot.com bubble’s burst and one too many acquisitions (including the TV and film company Canal Plus and the educational publisher Houghton Mifflin).

 

In fact, despite the well-documented revenue struggles of streaming services like Pandora and Spotify, Bronfman Jr. — who left Warner in 2012 after selling the unit to billionaire Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries — told CNBC earlier this year that he thinks “music is probably as compelling a content story as there is right now.”

 

Said Bronfman Jr., “I think ultimately, music is better off under a streaming or subscription model than it was, even in the ‘80s and ‘90s when it was selling albums” because “more people will be buying music” even if it’s “less people than the fanatics who were buying albums.”  At the end of the day, he’d added, “it broadens [music’s] distribution base.”

 

More here.

 

 

New Fundings

 

Beam Dental, a five-year-old, Columbus, Oh.-based dental benefits company for small and medium-size businesses, has raised $5.5 million in Series B funding led by Lewis & Clark Ventures, with participation from earlier investor Drive Capital.More here.

 

Common, a two-year-old, New York-based co-living company that currently manages 482 million rooms across a variety of cities, has raised $15 million in funding from Harriman Capital, a new real estate private equity firm. The capital will be used expressly to develop four new co-living properties in New York and L.A. Common had previously raised roughly $23 million over two rounds of funding. Real Estate Weekly has more here.

 

EdGE Networks, a four-year-old, Bengaluru, India-based AI-driven HR software company, has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding led by Kalaari Capital andVentureast. DealStreetAsia has more here.

 

Farmobile, a four-year-old, Overland Park, Ks.-based farm data company, has raised $18.1 million in Series B funding from Anterra Capital and AmTrust Agricultural Insurance Services, along with earlier investors. More here.

 

New Tranx., a three-year-old, Beijing, China-based AI-powered translation startup, has raised $7.5 million in “pre-A” funding from Kaitai Capital and Bojiang Capital Management Group. China Money Network has more here.

 

TELA Bio, a five-year-old, Malvern, Pa.-based company that develops surgical scaffolds for abdominal surgeries, has raised $25 million in funding from publicly traded Pacira Pharmaceuticals, as well as from earlier backers OrbiMedQuaker Partners and Signet Healthcare PartnersMore here.

 

Wonder Workshop, a five-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based company whose robots aim to teach kids of all ages creative problem solving, coding, and robotics, has raised $41 million in Series C funding from a long list of investors. Among them areTencent HoldingsTAL Education GroupMindWorks VenturesMadrona Venture GroupSoftbank Korea, and VTRON Group, as well as earlier backersTCL CapitalSinovation VenturesBright SuccessWI Harper, and CRV.

 

 

New Funds

 

Creative Labs, a Vancouver media and entertainment venture studio, has started operations in partnership with Hollywood talent agency Creative Artists Agency, says Variety. The incubator is backed by funding of about $12.5 million. More here.

 

 

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IPOs

 

Bandwidth, an 18-year-old, Raleigh, N.C.-based API software company that provides text and voice functionality to enterprises, revealed in an updated SEC filing that it plans to raise $84 million via an offering of 4 million shares priced between $20 to $22 a piece. The company’s biggest outside investors includeCarmichael Investment. More here.

 

Cardlytics, a nine-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based marketing analytics company, has filed confidentially for an IPO, says TechCrunch, which adds that it filed last year and has been trying to improve its bottom line in the meantime. According to Crunchbase, Cardlytics has raised $202 million in funding to date, including fromPolaris PartnersCanaan PartnersDiscovery CapitalTTV Capital, ITC HoldingsTotal Technology Ventures and Kinetic VenturesMore here.

 

Sogou, a Beijing, China-based search engine, said it plans to raise $540 million in an offering of 45 million shares between $11 to $13 a piece. Sohu and Tencentown most of the company, with respective stakes of  37.8 percent and 43.7 percent. Bloomberg has more here.

 

 

Exits

 

Teforia, essentially the Juicero of tea, has shut down. At least it didn’t raise as much as the pricey juice maker, collecting $17 million from investors, versus Juicero, which had raised roughly $118 million. TechCrunch has more here.

 

 

People

 

Vikram Bajaj, the former co-founder of Google life sciences startup Verily and chief scientific officer of cancer biotech company Grail, has joined the health care-focused investment firm Foresite Capital as a managing director. Axios has more here.

 

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is again the world’s richest person — for now.

 

The engineer who let his daughter show off an iPhone X on YouTube has been firedby Apple.

 

 

Data

 

There are reportedly now more than 120 cryptocurrency hedge funds(!).

 

The iPhone 8 launch has fueled growth for Apple in China after 18 months of declining sales. More here.

 

 

Essential Reads

 

Square is expanding its hardware lineup with a new, $999 point-of-sale device called the Square Register.

 

 

Detours

 

Jean-Georges, inside the Trump International Hotel, just lost a Michelin star.

 

The Haunted Apartment.

 

 

Retail Therapy

 

Samuel Adams is trying to kill us all.

 




StrictlyVC: October 25, 2017

Wednesday!

Top News in the A.M.

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

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

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

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Social Capital is Now Investing in Startups Sight Unseen

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

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

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

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

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

More here.

New Fundings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Funds

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

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

People

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

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

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

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

Jobs

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

Data

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

Essential Reads

Uber just launched a credit card.

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

Detours

The art world star you’ve never heard of.

“Tiny House Hunters” and the shrinking American dream.

The surprising history of “OMG.”

Retail Therapy

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




StrictlyVC: October 17, 2017

Happy Tuesday, all.:) No column today.

Top News in the A.M.

SoftBank — the Japanese conglomerate that is already upending Silicon Valley finance with its existing $93 billion Vision Fund — is in early planning discussions to raise a second and possibly larger fund, multiple sources tell Recode. As crazy as that sounds, it isn’t surprising. As of a couple of weeks ago, the firm had already committed $20 billion to startups — and that doesn’t include whatever it eventually works out with Uber. As investor Jeff Bussbang of Flybridge Ventures told us a couple of weeks ago, for a story about Softbank’s overarching strategy, “What people don’t appreciate is that this is just the beginning. [Softbank founder Masayoshi] Son is providing a way for sovereign wealth funds to invest $2 billion at a time into an asset class they can’t otherwise access.” In fact, he’d said to expect Softbank to raise another $100 billion fund sooner than later.

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New Fundings

Allset, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based restaurant reservation app that allows users to order food and pay for their meals, too, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Greycroft Partners. Other participants in the round include Andreessen HorowitzVaizra InvestmentsCompoundFJ Labs, and SMRK VC Fund. TechCrunch has more here.

Backplane, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that helps companies manage their software deployments, has raised $5 million in seed funding led by Baseline Ventures, with participation from Harrison Metal. Fortune has more here.

BankBazaar, a nine-year-old, Chennai, India-based credit marketplace, has raised $30 million in fresh funding led by Experian, the London-headquartered credit giant (with an $18 billion market cap). TechCrunch has more here.

BridgeU, a four-year-old, London-based maker of university prep and career guidance software, has raised £4 million ($5.3 million) in Series A funding led by Octopus Ventures, with participation fromDowning Ventures and earlier investor Fresco Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Connexin, an 11-year-old, Cambridge, England-based company that says it has built multiple carrier-grade metropolitan networks in its history, has raised $13.2 million in funding led by Digital Alpha Advisors, with participation from Cisco Systems.

Digital Asset Holdings, a 2.5.-year-old, New York-based developer of blockchain software for the financial sector (it’s run by former JPMorgan Chase executive Blythe Masters), has raised more than $40 million in Series B funding led by Jefferson River Capital. The Financial Times has more here.

Fluent City, a six-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based online language school, has raised $3 million in new funding led by Lerner Enterprises, with participation from New Ground VenturesZG Ventures, and WorldQuant Ventures. The company has now raised $5.5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

LevelTen Energy, a 1.5-year-old, Seattle-based two-sided market that connects electricity sellers and buyers, has raised $6.8 million in Series A funding, including from Prelude VenturesTechstars Venture Capital FundFounders’ CoopWireframe VenturesElement 8 Fund and Avista Development. GeekWire has more here.

Militus, a 1.5-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based maker of cybersecurity software, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding from CyberSEC3, a Florida-based private equity firm. More here.

Mission Bio, a three-year-old, South San Francisco-based developer of single-cell DNA analysis, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by MayfieldMore here.

Pick-Up, a 10-month-old, Hong Kong-based startup that operates a four-hour, door-to-door delivery platform, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Axis Capital PartnersMetroworks EquitySage 42 Apps and Shanghai Bestway Enterprise Development CompanyMore here.

Pluto TV, a four-year-old, L.A.-based free online television service that broadcasts more than 100 live channels, has raised $5 million from Samsung Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Snaps, a two-year-old, New York-based conversational marketing platform for brands, has raised $6 million in additional Series A funding from Signal Peak VenturesMore here.

Spotahome, a three-year-old, Spain-based startup that lets users view and book mid to long-term accommodation online, has raised €13.6 million ($16 million) in Series A funding. Investors includePassion CapitalSeaya VenturesHowzat Partners, and Samaipata Ventures, among others. TechCrunch has more here.

Vacasa, an eight-year-old, Portland, Ore.-based vacation rental management company, has raised a hefty $103.5 million in Series B funding. Riverwood Capital led the round; other participants included Level EquityAssurant Growth Investing, and NewSpring. GeekWire has more here.

New Funds

Last year, Illumina — the world’s largest maker of DNA sequencing machines — committed $100 million to start a genomics-focused venture capital fund. Now, Illumina Ventures has locked down another $130 million in capital commitments from a range of corporate, sovereign, institutional, and individual investors, bringing the fund’s total to $230 million. The outfit invests in companies working on new ways to use nucleic acid sequencing and to use genomics to better human health. FierceBiotech has more here.

Next Frontier Capital, a two-year-old, Bozeman, Mt.-based early-stage venture firm, has announced the first close of its second fund with $22 million in capital commitments. The firm, which is targeting upwards of $30 million altogether, had raised $21.5 million for its debut fund, founder Will Price, tells us. More here.

Serial entrepreneur Rick Marini has launched an outfit called Protocol Ventures, which may be the first-ever fund-of-funds for cryptocurrencies. Marini plans to invest what he raises in roughly ten cryptocurrency hedge funds with diverse profiles, strategies, and sizes, reports Axios, which says he’s targeting $100 million in capital commitments. More here.

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IPOs

ForeScout Technologies, a 17-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based company that provides enterprise security software for network access control, announced terms for its IPO yesterday, revealing plans to raise $101 million by offering 4.8 million shares at a price range of $20 to $22. At the midpoint of the proposed range, ForeScout would command a fully diluted market value of $942 million — close to the $1 billion private valuation it was assigned in January 2016. Nasdaq has more here.

Baidu’s iQiyi, a Netflix style video streaming service in China, has selected Bank of America, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs to help arrange a U.S. IPO worth about $1 billion, the IFR reported yesterday, citing people familiar with the plans. The offering could come as soon as the first half of 2018, added IFR, via Reuters.

JBS SA has pulled a planned $500 million IPO of its processed food subsidiary, JBS Foods International BV, almost six months after a spree of corruption and food safety scandals in Brazil hurt investor demand for the deal. CNBC has more here.

MongoDB, the 10-year-old, New York-based open source database system, has increased its proposed IPO price range from $18-$20 per share to $20-$22 per share. It still plans to offer 8 million shares. Seeking Alpha has more here.

Exits

Device maker Boston Scientific has acquired Apama Medical, a Campbell, Ca.-based developer of a radiofrequency balloon catheter for the treatment of atrial fibrillation. Boston Scientific is paying $175 million in cash up front, with another $125 million contigent on Apama meeting certain milestones. According to Crunchbase, Apama had raised $43 million in equity and debt, including from Silicon Valley Bank. Fierce Biotech has more here.

Facebook announced yesterday that it’s acquiring the positivity-focused polling startup tbh (short for “to be honest”), and will allow it to operate somewhat independently with its own brand. Price isn’t being disclosed, but TechCrunch sources say the company fetched less than $100 million and won’t require regulatory approval. tbh had raised an undisclosed amount of funding, including from Bee Partners, in 2013. More here.

Lawsuit!

Warby Parker is being accused of signing partnership contracts and NDAs with online eyeglass prescription test startup Opternative, then stealing the technology to launch its own competing “Prescription Check” feature. That’s according to a legal complaint filed last month by Opternative that was unsealed today as the lawsuit unfolds. TechCrunch has the story here.

People

Scott Barclay has been named a partner at Data Collective, which he joined in 2015 as an operating partner. Just prior, Barclay had served as chief product officer of Surescripts, an e-prescription network based in Arlington, Va.

Emil Michael, the former top Uber executive who was ousted by the company’s board earlier this year, has filed a motion to have a problematic lawsuit related to a rape incident in India dismissed. This is Michael’s first public comment on the case, which has attracted a lot of controversy, and essentially his attempt to clear his name. Recode has more here.

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel was married in Vienna this past weekend, Axios reports. Guests came expecting to celebrate Thiel’s 50th birthday, but instead were surprised by his wedding to longtime boyfriend, Matt Danzeisen. (A little) more here.

Longtime VC Fred Wilson said this past weekend that he and his wife have poured 5 percent of their net worth into crypto assets, which he characterizes as “likely at the high end of what the average person should have” but “not a ridiculous number for the average person to have.” Bloomberg has more here.

Jobs

SenaHill Partners, a fintech-focused merchant bank, is looking to bring aboard a financial analyst with at least one year’s work experience to join its investment banking group. The job is in New York. If interested, please submit your resume and cover letter to careers@senahill.com.

Data

VC firms are investing in crypto hedge funds, ICOs, and tokens directly. According to data culled by Fortune, VC firms are on track to close 77 traditional deals with blockchain startups by the end of this year. Last year, they closed 57. More here.

Essential Reads

Wag, the so-called Uber for dog-walking, is reportedly being criticized for losing dogs and fighting with customers — spooking potential investors in the process. Bloomberg has more here.

Apple apparently explored buying a medical-clinic start-up as part of a bigger push into health care. CNBC has more here.

Detours

A Canadian man rescued from a Taliban-linked group in Afghanistan last week said he thought his captors were joking when they told him Donald Trump had been elected president of the United States.

Retail Therapy

The Populele.




StrictlyVC: October 5, 2017

Hello and happy Thursday!

Did we mention that StrictlyVC now has a little white mascot? He’s very cute as you can see below, but he is slowly and very surely killing us. Why didn’t anyone warn us that puppies are like babies? (Okay, yes, virtually  every pet owner we know warned us that puppies are like babies. Did we listen? We did not.)

Top News in the A.M.

A new breach, considered the most serious in years, could enable Russia to evade NSA surveillance and more easily infiltrate U.S. networks. The WSJ has the story here.

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Startups Say This Fintech ‘Lab’ is Giving Them Needed Access to Wall Street and Regulator

Banks want to know what around the corner is trying to put them out of business, so it’s no surprise that a spate of fintech-focused accelerator programs has sprung into existence in recent years. For example, Deutsche Bank just opened is fourth innovation lab in New York this year, after opening outposts in Silicon Valley, Berlin, and London. Barclays, which initially opened its accelerator program in London, is now in the U.S., too, having partnered last year with TechStars. Wells Fargo also provides money and mentoring to companies that enter into its semi-annual accelerator program in San Francisco.

Another program that gets high marks from founders is the Financial Solutions Lab (FinLab), an offshoot of the Center for Financial Services Innovation, a 13-year-old nonprofit focused on serving unbanked and underbanked customers.

What is FinLab and what’s the appeal to founders? Broadly speaking, it’s a 2.5-year-old program that aims to find and nurture fintech startups that are helping Americans save, access credit and build assets, and it is itself fueled by a $30 million, five-year grant from JPMorgan. Startups are under no obligation to transact with the bank or sell it a stake of their business. As far as JPMorgan is concerned, FinLab’s mission is a solid one. Plus, it can gather useful intelligence about what startups are cooking up, and it’s a good look for JPMorgan, given that banks are not on most Americans’ list of most-loved companies. (A recent Gallup poll shows that a meager 27 percent of Americans have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the institutions.)

FinLab is fairly small and mostly virtual, but it seems to have a knack for sifting through applicants to find interesting companies. Among those startups it has worked with so far is Propel, a startup that helps people who receive food stamps manage their benefits. (It raised $4 million in seed venture funding after joining the program, including from Andreessen Horowitz and Omidyar Network.)

Another company that’s currently a part of the program is Dave, an app that alerts consumers ahead of an upcoming overdraft and can advance them money. Though its founders have created several companies previously and they’d already raised $3 million in seed funding — including from Mark Cuban and The Chernin Group — the team still applied to be a part of FinLab.

The two are now among 26 companies that have either graduated or are working currently with FinLab, whose nine-month-long program features some of the typical one-on-one engagement with mentors that are a feature of most accelerators. FinLab’s strongest enticement, however, are six day-long meetings that it organizes for its companies — meetings that can mean the difference between these companies thriving and wilting on the vine.

More here.

New Fundings

3T Biosciences, a young, Palo Alto, Ca.-based stealthy oncology startup, has raised more than $12 million in seed funding from backers that include Peter Thiel and Sean Parker. CNBC has more here.

21Buttons, a 1.5-year-old, Barcelona-based social commerce app dedicated to fashion, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Kibo Ventures, with participation from JME VC and earlier backers Samaipata Ventures, Breega Capital360 Capital PartnersBanc Sabadell Venture CapitalSputnik and Mediaset. TechCrunch has more here.

Cardiologs, a three-year-old, Paris-based ECG analysis platform, has raised $6.4 million in new funding from IdinvestISAIKurma PartnersPartech Ventures and earlier backer Bpifrance. The company has now raised $10 million. More here.

Energage, an 11-year-old, Exton, Pa.-based maker of employee engagement software, has raised $10 million in new funding led by NewSpring GrowthMore here.

Featurespace, a 12-year-old, Cambridge, England-based adaptive behavioral analytics startup, has raised £16.5 million ($21.6 million) in funding led by Highland Europe, with participation from WorldpayInvoke Capital and earlier backer Touchstone Innocations. The University of Cambridge has more here.

FlyHomes, a two-year-old, Seattle-based tech-enabled real estate brokerage, has raised $4 million in funding e-commerce pioneer Mark Vadon, with participation from Pritzker Group Venture Capital and Avant CEO Al Goldstein. It has also secured $2 million in debt funding. GeekWire has more here.

FogHorn Systems, a three-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based maker of edge software for industrial and commercial IoT applications, has raised $30 million in Series B funding co-led by Intel Capital and Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures. Other participants in the round include Honeywell Ventures and earlier investors March Capital PartnersGEDell Technologies CapitalRobert Bosch Venture Capital, Yokogawa Electric CorporationDarling Ventures and The Hive. CRN has more here.

Home61, a three-year-old, Miami-based end-to-end real estate platform, has raised $4 million in funding, including from FF Angel and FJ Labs. The Real Deal has more here.

Palleon Pharmaceuticals, a 1.5-year-old, Waltham, Ma.-based developer of cancer checkpoint drugs, has raised $47.6 million in Series A funding from SR One, Pfizer VenturesVertex Ventures HCTakeda Ventures and AbbVie Ventures. Xconomy has more here.

PartySlate, a two-year-old, Chicago-based digital platform for party hosts, has raised $1.9 million in seed funding led by Hyde Park Venture Partners, with participation from Hyde Park AngelsInvestHER VenturesJump InvestorsWavemaker Partners and Halogen Ventures. Nibletz has more here.

PremFina, a 3.5-year-old, London-based startup that makes software for insurance brokers, has raised $36 million in funding co-led by Rakuten and Draper Esprit, with participation from Thomvest VenturesEmery CapitalRubicon Venture Capital and Talis Capital. Business Insider has more here.

Seasoned, a new, San Francisco-based foodservice-centric community, has raised $20 million in Series A funding led by TPG GrowthMore here.

Secret Escapes, a seven-year-old, London-based members-only luxury travel club, is closing in on a £52 million ($66 million) Series D round led by Temasek, says TechCrunch. More here.

Wala, a two-year-old, Cape Town, South Africa-based blockchain-powered financial services platform, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Newton PartnersMore here.

Zefo, a two-year-old, Bangalore, India-based used furniture and appliances marketplace, has raised $9 million in Series B funding from Sequoia Capital IndiaHelion Venture Partners and Beenext. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

Reach Capital, a 2.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based venture capital firm that’s focused on early-stage edtech startups, is looking to raise $75 million for its second fund, shows a new SEC filing. Reach had spun out of NewSchools Venture Fund in 2015 and closed its debut fund with $53 million later that year. More here.

Sponsored By . . .

Psst, startup founder, Founder Shield is the most user-friendly and responsive insurance brokerage you’ll ever work with if so. Our expert brokers will help you craft your insurance program using our seamless and intuitive tech-enabled process. Create an account and get free quotes today.

Exits

Navient, one of the largest U.S. companies that collects payments on student debt, jumped into the lending business yesterday by agreeing to acquire financial-technology startup Earnest for $155 million in cash. Navient plans to maintain the Earnest brand as a separate unit, which will be led by its co-founders, Louis Beryl and Ben Hutchinson, says the WSJ. Earnest had raised a ton of equity and debt funding — at least $320 million by our count. More here.

People

Nick D’Aloisio, who previously founded news summary app Summly (which he famously sold to Yahoo at age 17 for a reported $30 million), has raised funding for a new stealthy startup that promises to help users find and instantly chat to an expert on a range of topics. (Yes, this same idea has tried and failed a million times, but let’s stay tuned.) TechCrunch has more here.

How Apple CEO Tim Cook is remembering Steve Jobs on the sixth anniversary of his death.

Rapper and Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah has cofounded a new cryptocurrency firm — Cream Capitol — that hopes to raise $30 million in funding through a digital coin sale. Rolling Stone has more here.

Aymerik Renard has joined the hardware-focused fund Hardware Club as a general partner. Renard was most recently a director with Western Digital Capital and, before that, a director with SanDisk Ventures.

FirstMark Capital, the New York-based venture firm, has brought aboard Catherine Ulrich as a managing director. Ulrich was previously the chief product officer at Shutterstock and, before that, Weight Watchers. She is the firm’s first senior female investing partner. TechCrunch has more here.

Data

Venture capital has hit an all-time high in India—and a quarter of it came from one investor.

Meanwhile, dealmaking in China is slowing.

Essential Reads

Amazon is testing its own delivery service to rival UPS and FedEx.

Netflix is raising some prices starting today.

Baidu just opened a second R&D lab in Silicon Valley to work on autonomous driving, among other things.

A list of everything that Magic Leap has released so far.

Detours

Screw you, sports bottles.

A bombshell report on Harvey Weinstein.

Hostile Takeover High.

Retail Therapy

The Quiet Punch, for when those deals go south.




StrictlyVC: September 19, 2017

Hello! We’re at TechCrunch’s Disrupt event in San Francisco again today; we just wrapped up a lively discussion with Elizabeth Iorns of Science Exchange, Jen Rubio of Away, and Rachel Carlson of Guild Education — three acutely interesting founders in different phases of their companies’ lifecycles. More on that this week.

We’ll also looking forward to talking a little later today with Sam Altman of Y Combinator. More on that soon, too. In the meantime, happy Tuesday.:)

Top News in the A.M.

The National Venture Capital Association has launched a lawsuit against the Trump administration, claiming it took illegal steps to prevent an immigration policy that would have helped foreign-born founders stay in the U.S. to build startups. The WSJ has the story here.

Sponsored By . . .

StrictlyVC is being brought to you this week by Future Labs AI Summit, a two-day conference comprising trainings, talks, and discussions with leading AI technologists, investors, academics, and entrepreneurs in New York City on October 30 – 31.

From deep dives into key areas animating AI conversations from leading technical experts to introductory courses in machine learning and game theory for AI, the Future Labs AI Summit features offerings for scholars, technologists, and investors alike. Attendees will also get a first look at demos from the second cohort of startups in the AI NexusLab, the accelerator program run by Future Labs, NYU Tandon, and ff Venture Capital. Get tickets here.

Steve Jurvetson on Why He Couldn’t Join the Board of Secretive Zoox

On stage yesterday in San Francisco, we had the chance to catch up with investor Steve Jurvetson about a wide number of things that are sweeping across the startup landscape (and might fundamentally change it), from ICOs to Softbank’s giant Vision Fund to AI to Elon Musk’s new Boring Company.

Jurvetson had plenty of interesting insights about all, unsurprisingly. He somewhat famously graduated from Stanford in 2.5 years, at the top of his class, and has led early investments in many pioneering companies, from Hotmail to SpaceX and Tesla. (He sits on the boards of the last two, alongside Musk.)

Another board seat Jurvetson planned to take but didn’t, he said today, was with Zoox, the three-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based startup that’s building self-driving cars from the ground up with an eye toward picking up passengers as a service.

A year ago, Zoox raised what Jurvetson characterized as the biggest round of Series A funding ever when it closed on $240 million, including from DFJ, Lux Capital, Blackbird Ventures and others.

So much money makes sense, argued Jurvetson. “It’s a capital-intensive business. If you’re going to operate a fully autonomous driving service in an urban environment – imagine an Uber- or Lyft-like service without humans in the loop — that is a big innovation stream.”

What Jurvetson didn’t anticipate when his firm, DFJ, wrote a check to Zoox — this was “before they had a board, before they really had any structure whatsoever, before the Series A” —  was that Musk would make plans to jump into the car-as-a-service business, too.

Though “[t]here was no whisper of Tesla being competitive” early on, said Jurvetson, that changed abruptly on a Tesla shareholder call last October.

More here.

New Fundings

Aqua Security, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based container security platform provider, has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. Earlier backers also joined the round, including Microsoft VenturesTLV Ventures and Shlomo Kramer. Altogether, the company has now raised $38.5 million. More here.

Capsule8, a two-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based threat prevention and response platform for cloud-native environments, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners. The company has now raised $8.5 million altogether. More here.

DouxMatok, a 3.5-year-old, Israel-based startup claiming to have found a way to make sugar more efficient and potent so people can eat less of it and still get the same effect, has raised $8.1 million in funding led by Pitango Venture CapitalMore here.

Funnel, a three-year-old, Stockholm Sweden-based startup whose software-as-a-service helps companies analyze the effectiveness of online marketing spend across multiple channels, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. Balderton Capital led the round, with participation from earlier investors, including Industrifonden and Zobito. TechCrunch has more here.

JingChi, a months-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based autonomous driving start-up founded by Wang Jing, the former head of Baidu’s autonomous driving unit, has raised $30 million in seed funding and is now poised to raise $100 million in Series A funding, says the company. Backers so far include Aplus Capital, an investment firm started by Yu Minhong, the founder of New Oriental Education & Technology Group (which went public in 2006 and minted many gazillionaires). China Money Network has more here.

Loftium, a 1.5-year-old, Seattle-based company that provides users with a down payment in exchange for splitting Airbnb income on a spare room for 12 to 36 months, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by DFJ. The company, which had previously raised funding from Lerer Hippeau Ventures, closed the round in April.  The New York Times has more here.

Luno, a four-year-old, Singapore-based bitcoin wallet and exchange, has raised $9 million in Series B funding led by Balderton Capital, with participation from earlier backer Digital Currency Group. TechCrunch has more here.

MealPal, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based subscription service that provides its customers with daily lunch options from restaurants near where they live or work, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Menlo Ventures. Prior to this round, the company had raised $15 million from Bessemer Venture PartnersComcast VenturesHaystack and NextView. TechCrunch has more here.

Minio, a three-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based provider of open source object storage for cloud-native and containerized applications, has raised $20 million in Series A funding jointly led by Dell Technologies CapitalGeneral Catalyst Partners and Nexus Venture Partners, with additional participation by Intel CapitalAME Cloud and Steve Singh. TechCrunch has more here.

Patreon, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based membership platform that makes it easier for artists and creators to get paid, has officially closed on $60 million in new funding. (TechCrunch reported last week that this deal was in the works.) Earlier investor Thrive Capital led the Series B round, with participation from earlier backers CRV and Freestyle, as well as new investor DFJ. The company has now raised $107 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Resolute Innovation, a two-year-old, New York-based startup that’s building a searchable R&D database to speed along the the university tech transfer process, is raising $3.3 million in Series A funding led by Revolution Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Ushr, a three-year-old, Livonia, Mi.-based company working on high-definition mapping technology and software for autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. Forté Ventures led the investment round, and was joined by investors that include EnerTech CapitalEmerald Technology Ventures, and GM Ventures. Newscenter.io has more here.

Younited Credit, an eight-year-old, Paris, France company that’s building a crowdlending platform in continental Europe, has raised $47.8 million led by earlier investors EurazeoCrédit Mutuel ArkéaAG2R La Mondiale and Weber Investissements. Other participants include new investors Matmut InnovationZencap Asset Management, and Bpifrance. TechCrunch has more here.

The Zebra, a five-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based auto insurance comparison marketplace, has raised $40 million in Series B funding led by Accel Partners. Other participants in the round include Silverton PartnersFloodgateBallast Point VenturesMark CubanDaher Capital, and Birchmere LabsMore here.

New Funds

The Engine, based out of MIT and Cambridge, has raised a $200 million fund to back and help incubate startups working on “tough tech” — new challenges in areas like aerospace, advanced materials, biotech, genetic engineering and renewable energy. According to Katie Rae,  CEO and managing partner of The Engine, about $25 million of the capital commitments comes from MIT, with the rest from family offices and other fund. TechCrunch has more here.

Thailand’s retail giant Central Group and China’s second-largest online shopping site operator JD.com have signed a deal to set up a $500 million e-commerce and fintech joint venture in Thailand, with an eye toward funding Thailand’s developing e-commerce market. The outfits are each chipping in exactly half the funding. The Nikkei has more here.

IPOs

ZhongAn, a four-year-old, Shanghai, China-based company that became China’s first online-only insurer, said yesterday that plans to raise up to $1.5 billion in an IPO that could value the company at around $10 billion. Softbank Group will be a cornerstorne investor in the offering.

Restoration Robotics, a 15-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based company that’s developing a robotic device that assists doctors during a part of a hair restoration procedure, is planning to go public, offering 3.125 million share priced at between $7 and $9 a share. The company’s biggest outside investors include Sutter Hill VenturesClarus LifesciencesAlloy Ventures, and InterWest Partners. MarketWatch has slightly more here.

Roku just more than doubled its IPO target.

Exits

Toys ‘R’ Us could file for bankruptcy as soon as the next few weeks, as nervous suppliers have tightened terms for the retailer ahead of the crucial holiday selling season, according to the WSJ. More here.

People

Google SVP John Giannandrea spoke at Disrupt today, calling talk by tech leaders about the potentially alarming consequences of artificial intelligence both “unwarranted and borderline irresponsible.” More here.

Highland Europe has brought aboard as a growth investor Gajan Rajanathan, who will join the team in September. Rajanathan joins as a VP with the M&A advisory services firm Qatalyst Partners, where he has spent recent years building up its European operations. Earlier, he worked in Credit Suisse’s M&A group in New York.

Data

New numbers show how rarely Twitter takes action against abusive behavior reports.

Essential Reads

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus reviewed.

Entrepreneurs are exploring new ways to list companies on exchanges — and placate stock-holding Silicon Valley employees — while avoiding the pitfalls of initial public offerings.

Skully, the AR helmet company, is attempting a comeback.

Detours

Uber is sorry for its “wife appreciation day” promo.

Survival of the prettiest.

Argh.

Retail Therapy

Now that’s how to salvage a barn.




StrictlyVC: September 14, 2017

Thursday! Hello! We’re just off some calls relating to Disrupt, TechCrunch’s big SF event kicking off next week. We’re excited to see some of you there.:)

Also! Our last StrictlyVC event of the year is suddenly coming up in less than two weeks. A few of you have reached out about volunteering (thank you, awesome people). We could use a couple more of you if you’re game.

Top News in the A.M.

According to the Financial TimesNestlé is paying $500 million for a 68 percent in the California-based cafe and roastery chain Blue Bottle, in a deal that values the company at more than $700 million. Blue Bottle has been rumored for months to be raising fresh capital; the deal directly pits Nestle against Starbucks and other big coffee brands in the U.S.

E-commerce company Wish is raising around $250 million in new funding at a valuation north of $8 billion, says Axios, which adds that several mutual funds are expected to participate, including Wellington Management. You can learn a lot about the company by revisiting this piece about it, which we wrote after its personable but reclusive CEO, Peter Szulczewski, spoke at a StrictlyVC event last year.

Meanwhile, mysterious Magic Leap, the Dania Beach, Florida-based wearable tech company that has yet to release a product (though it keeps invitingreporters to its headquarters to dazzle them), is reportedly raising $500 million in fresh funding, at a post-money valuation of $6 billion. Bloomberg says that Temasek Holdings, an investment company owned by Singapore, may take part in the round.

Sponsored By  . . .

StrictlyVC is brought to you this week by the Future Labs AI Summit, a two-day conference comprising trainings, talks, and discussions with leading AI technologists, investors, academics, and entrepreneurs in New York City on October 30 – 31.

From deep dives into key areas animating AI conversations from leading technical experts to introductory courses in machine learning and game theory for AI, the Future Labs AI Summit features offerings for scholars, technologists, and investors alike. Attendees will also get a first look at demos from the second cohort of startups in the AI NexusLab, the accelerator program run by Future Labs, NYU Tandon, and ff Venture Capital. Get tickets here.

NFX Guild Just Showed 14 Startups to Investors at Its Demo Day

Yesterday, three-year-old, NFX Guild, a Silicon Valley-based, invite-only accelerator program that has now worked with 80 companies, hosted its newest demo day before 200 venture investors at the Computer History Museum in unfailingly sunny Mountain View, Ca.

The outfit — which is backed financially by the venture firms CRV, Shasta Ventures, Greylock Partners, and Mayfield, and that works only with startups that’ve been referred to it through a network of scouts — dialed back on the number of presenting companies. (Its previous three batches featured 16, then 13, then 21 companies, respectively. Yesterday, it featured 14.)

A more concentrated effort seemed to pay off, with a number of intriguing teams pitching their work, from a company promising to wring more revenue out of attorneys’ mobile phone use, to a new open source platform for data scientists, to a startup trying to modernize moving companies.

Altogether, says serial entrepreneur and firm cofounder James Currier, 70 percent of the companies to pass through NFX Guild have gone on to raise subsequent funding.

For those of you who didn’t make it to the event but want to know some of the ideas and teams that NFX Guild thought would interest their fellow VCs, here’s who presented what, starting with a company called Zero.

More here.

New Fundings

Bellgram, a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.based company that aims to help businesses by collecting relevant conversation data with customers before, during, and after conversations — data that it then indexes and made searchable — has raised $800,000 in seed funding. Backers include Arzan Venture Capital500 Startups, and SGH Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Birdies, a 2.5-year-old, Bay Area-based maker of luxury slippers, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Forerunner Ventures, with participation from Slow VenturesGraph Ventures, and Social Capital. Digiday has more here.

Braavo Capital, a two-year-old, New York-based integrated financing platform for mobile app businesses, raised more than $70 million in debt and equity. Mark 2 Capital led the round. New York Business Journal has more here.

Call9, a two-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company whose app gives nursing homes and rehabilitation centers an alternative to calling 911 (it connects connects on-site clinical care specialists with remote emergency medicine physicians), has raised $24 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Redmile, with participation from RefactorWestern Technology Investment, and earlier backers Index Ventures and YCombinator, among others. More here.

Carrot Fertility, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that partners with companies to help employees access egg freezing, in vitro fertilization, and other fertility care, raised $3.6 million in seed funding. SoftTech Ventures led the round, and was joined by Maven VenturesPrecursor VenturesSound VenturesSherpa VenturesCore VCFounders Fund, and Y Combinator. TechCrunch has more here.

CashShield, a nine-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based online fraud risk management company that works with enterprises, has raised $5.5 million in funding led by GGV Capital, with participation from private equity firm Heliconia Capital Management, entrepreneur Tony Fadell, gaming company Razer, and the venture capital firm Stream GlobalMore here.

Eaze, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based weed delivery startup, has raised $27 million in Series B funding led by Bailey Venture Partners, with participation from from DCM VenturesKaya Ventures and FJ Labs. TechCrunch has more here.

ExecThread, a two-year-old, New York-based job-sharing network for executives (and, it says, the largest aggregator of unpublished executive-level job opportunities), has raised $6.5 million in funding co-led by Canaan Partners and Javelin Venture Partners, with participation from Corazon CapitalCoVentureNextView Ventures and other angel investors. More here.

FanDuel, the eight-year-old, New York-based fantasy sports site, is reportedly raising between $30 million and $40 million in new funding from earlier backers in a deal that would be structured as a convertible note. The company has already raised more than $400 million from investors. Axios has the story here.

Furhat Robotics, a three-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based developer of a “social robot” and attendant platform, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Balderton Capital and LocalGlobe. NewsCenter.io has more here.

HouseCanary, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based data analytics and valuation platform for real estate professionals, announced raised $31 million in Series B funding from investors that include Penny Pritzker of PSP Capital and earlier backer Hillspire (which is Eric Schmidt’s family office). The company has now raised $64 million altogether. More here.

Iconic Protein, a six-year-old, San Clemente, Ca.-based maker of a line of grass-fed protein drinks, has raised $8 million in funding led by the private equity firm KarpReilly. BevNet has more here.

Infostellar, a year-old, Tokyo, Japan-based platform that connects satellite owners and operators with those who own and operate antennas (TechCrunch calls it an “Airbnb for satellite antennas”), raised $7.3 million in Series A funding. Airbus Ventures led the round, with participation from WERU InvestmentD4VSony Innovation Fund and earlier backers FreakOut Holdings and 500 Startups JapanMore here.

MissionU, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based one-year college alternative that charges no tuition up front, has raised $8.5 million in Series A funding. FirstMark Capital led the round. Other participants include First Round CapitalUniversity VenturesBox GroupRethink EducationLearn CapitalJohn Doerr, and Omidyar Network. TechCrunch has more here.

Prellis Biologics, a year-old, San Francisco-based company at work on creating three-dimensional printing of human tissue, with the ultimate goal of producing organs for transplant, has raised $1.8 million in seed funding, including from True VenturesCivilization Ventures, and 415 Ventures. The WSJ has more here.

Snappr, a 1.5-year-old San Francisco-based the on-demand photography service, has raised $2 million in seed funding. Investors include Airtree Ventures (the largest venture fund in Australia, where Snappr was founded), Google Maps cofounder Lars Rasmussen, and a founding member of Zynga, Justin Waldron. TechCrunch has more here.

StoreDot, a five-year-old, Herzelya, Israel-based nanotechnology materials company that has said its batteries can charge a smartphone in one minute, has raised $60 million in funding led by Daimler, with participation from Samsung Ventures and Norma Investments. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

Breakout Ventures, a new, San Francisco-based venture group that spun out of Peter Thiel’s Breakout Labs, has closed its debut fund with $60 million in capital commitments, shows an SEC filing. The firm’s managing partner is Lindy Fishburne, who remains executive director of Breakout Labs, a philanthropic program that supports early-stage science startups and is funding by Thiel. TechCrunch has more here.

Firstminute Capital, the startup investment fund from Lastminute.com founder Brent Hoberman and former Goldman Sachs analyst Spencer Crawley, has added another $25 million in capital commitments to its debut fund, first announced in June with a close of $65 million. New investors include Chinese tech giant Tencent, BlaBlaCar cofounder Frederic MazellaSir Paul Ruddock, and other high net worth individuals. Business Insider has more here.

Smartphone giant Samsung has just set up a $300 million fund to invest in automotive startups and autonomous driving technology. TechCrunch has much more here.

IPOs

Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings, a Palo Alto, Ca.-based “blank check” company formed by Social Capital and the London-based venture firm Hedosophia, announced yesterday that it had raised $600 million in its IPO, up from the $500 million the company originally filed for at the beginning of September. Business Insider has more here.

Also Sponsored By . . .

“South of Market, The Musical” is back for v2! The annual tech parody is running Oct 12-22nd in San Francisco and features an entirely new script, cast and score! This year’s show follows an aspiring tech journalist as she attempts to get the scoop on the too-good-to-be-true hottest startup of the year – ai.ai.  With songs likes “Self Driving,” “Boulder Moves, Bolder You,” and “Tech Issues,” this year’s show highlights the perks and perils of startup scene hype machine.

The show will also feature a host of cameo appearances (including by yours truly and Product Hunt founder Ryan Hoover). Tickets are on sale now, so come see our musical debut!

People

Canvas Ventures has promoted Sarah Catanzaro to data partner and Jennifer Kaehms to associate. More here.

New York Times reporter Mike Isaac is writing a book about Uber.

Jobs

Lift Ventures, an outfit that incubates, acquires, and invests in data-driven online businesses, is looking to hire a senior associate. The job is in San Francisco.

Essential Reads

Google systematically pays women less than men doing similar work, according to a new class action-lawsuit accusing the technology company of denying promotions and career opportunities to qualified women who are “segregated” into lower-paying jobs.

Rule-breaking at an early age may point to the success of company founders like Martin Shkreli, researchers say. It may also foretell their undoing.

Facebook just launched a “Snooze” button that lets users temporarily blockcertain “friends” (the hope being people will use this rather than permanently block or unfriend people on the platform).

Bitcoin has fallen again for a fifth day, its longest losing streak in more than a year, after one of China’s largest online exchanges said it would stop handling trades by the end of the month amid a government crackdown on cryptocurrencies.

Detours

Martin Shrekli is now in jail for a most unlikely reason. Meanwhile, remember that $2 Million Wu-Tang album he was going to sell? It might not be a Wu-Tang album.

Retail Therapy

An inflatable travel bag.




StrictlyVC: May 5, 2017

Thank you, thank you to everyone who came out to our event in San Francisco last night. We had so much fun!

These things are always a little nerve-racking to put together but well worth the effort, and last night was no exception, owing to our wonderful speakers, our sponsors, and our hosts. We’ll have much more on the discussions — with Confide’s Jon Brod, Impossible Foods’s Patrick Brown, and Lightspeed’s Ravi Mhatre and Barry Eggers — very soon, along with pictures and video. (You can catch our interview with The RealReal’s Julie Wainwright below.)

We also want to thank one last time our partners in the event: Square 1 Bank, Rosebud Communications, Bullish, and Haystack. Your support made it much easier for us to do our job last night.

One final note to the generous team at NextWorld Capital: Thank you so much for hosting all of us, and for the second time, no less. We can’t tell you how much we appreciated it.

It’s a long ways off, but if you want to mark it on your calendars, we’ll be hosting our next party on September 27, a Thursday night, in San Francisco. More details to come this summer.:)

(P.S. Sorry for the very short newsletter. Crazed morning. Running out the door. More Monday.)

Top News in the A.M.

The Justice Department has reportedly opened a criminal probe into Uber’s use of Greyball software to evade regulators. Reuters has more here.

Sponsored By . . .

StrictlyVC has been sponsored this week by the Bay Area firm Greenbrier. Scandal; injury; breach; litigation; presidential tweet. Crises can damage your corporate brand, personal reputation, employee morale and have lasting financial impacts. That’s why you need Greenbrier. We provide crisis planning, strategic advice and tactical execution to clients facing complex image, marketing, branding, media, legal and political challenges. With more than 30 years experience predicting, mitigating, managing and building resilience against reputational risks, Greenbrier can help.

The RealReal is Opening a Real Store in New York (and Other News from CEO Julie Wainwright)

At an event in San Francisco last night I sat down with The RealReal founder and CEO Julie Wainwright, who is renowned in startup circles for a variety of things, including her role in winding down the e-commerce company Pets.com during the dot.com era; being one of the bigger personalities in the industry; and launching what’s become one of the fastest-growing consignment startups among a handful that received funding roughly six years ago.

Some no longer exist. The RealReal has meanwhile garnered $123 million in venture funding and says it’s on track to see $500 million in gross merchandise value this year — nearly half of it through the company’s mobile app.

She attributed that success so far to zeroing in on the luxury market, taking possession of consigners’ products and focusing on trust above all else, by ensuring that every item that The RealReal sells to a customer has been inspected and authenticated before it gets shipped out the door. She also said the company is weighing a strategy of opening a series of brick-and-mortar stores, starting first with one New York location that’s currently in the works.

Excerpts from our sit-down, edited for length and clarity, follow:

You’ve raised a lot of money, including a $40 million Series E round last year, but you’re also very much in growth mode. For the VCs in the audience: might you raise another round anytime soon?

No. We’re good for a while.

You started with apparel, but you sold $100 million in watches and fine jewelry last year. Is that now your best-selling category?

The reason we went into jewelry was we were trying to cater to our consigner base, who was saying, “Can you sell this for me? Can you sell that?” And we said, “You can bring in your jewelry and watches; we have a gemology and a watch expert on site.” And it just exploded our business.

You’re talking about valuation offices, which you’ve been launching across the U.S. over the last 18 months. You and I talked about these recently, but they seem to be underreported.

It’s true. We did a little test in Midtown [in New York] around 18 months ago. We now have six offices across the U.S. and soon to be seven. We wanted people to comparison shop because we know you make two-and-a-half to three times more money if you sell your fine jewelry to us. We also wanted to remove any friction. [Jewelry consignment] is sort of weird space. If you’ve ever tried to sell jewelry to anyone else, it’s a pawn shop environment; it’s a little gross. So we wanted to bring the whole process up front, have a discussion with people, and have it be transparent and respectful.

Back to your best-selling items . . .

For men, it’s Rolex. For women, there are three across all age groups: Chanel, Hermes and Louis Vuitton.

Meaning clothing or jewelry or both?

Apparel is our number-one product in unit and dollars.

Are men buying or selling on The RealReal? What’s the gender breakdown?

We actually don’t get enough men’s consignment, so it sells through faster. Twenty percent of our shoppers are men who are shopping for themselves. They’re buying watches, primarily, and leather goods, but also apparel. Their average order size is smaller, but you men [in the audience] don’t like to return things, despite that we have a return policy. So that’s good; it all evens out. [Laughs.]

What percentage of shoppers are also consigning items?

More here.

New Fundings

Devicare, a four-year-old, Barcelona, Spain-based maker of remote patient monitoring software, has raised €3 million ($3.3 million) in seed funding from EMESA Corporación Empresarial and numerous family offices. More here.

Outset Medical, a 14-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based medical device company that makes dialysis machines, has raised $76.5 million in Series C funding led by T. Rowe Price Associates, with participation from Fidelity Management & Research Company, Partner Fund Management LP, Warburg Pincus, Perceptive Advisors and The Vertical Group. FierceBiotech has more here.

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