StrictlyVC: September 23, 2013

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Top News in the A.M.

General solicitation rules are different as of today. Here’s why startups need to pay attention to what, specifically, has changed.

Can Jack Hidary Hack New York’s Mayoral Race?

Jack Hidary is a wealthy tech entrepreneur who wants to be mayor of New York City and is running as an independent. At first blush, he seems to have much in common with New York’s billionaire mayor Mike Bloomberg, a Democrat turned Republican turned independent.

But Bloomberg spent $73 million of his own money to get himself elected the first time around. Hidary has so far raised $450,000. Bloomberg began campaigning early. Hidary, 45, announcing he was running just two months ago. Bloomberg courted nearly everyone; Hidary has been doing more “targeted” campaigning. As told me in a phone call last week, “I have increased name recognition in the core communities that we need.”

In Hidary’s view, there’s an opportunity to hack the election by leveraging both his tech base and his background. Born in Brooklyn to a Spanish-speaking Columbian mother, Hidary went on to cofound two companies. The first, EarthWeb, an IT information and jobs site, went public in 1998, four years after opening for business. (It was taken private in 2000 and sold again in 2005 as to private equity investors.) Hidary also cofounded the financial information company Vista Research, which sold to Standard & Poor in 2005.

Since entering the race in mid-July, Hidary has attracted support from many who like his biggest promise: to champion entrepreneurship and create jobs across all five of New York’s boroughs. Among those who’ve lent their support, says Hidary, are Albert Wenger of Union Square Ventures; investors Joanne and Wilson (also of USV); Jim Robinson of RRE Ventures; and Charlie Kim, the founder and CEO Next Jump, a New York-based tech company that powers reward programs.

Still, it’s far from clear that Hidary’s concentrated tactics are working. His team is using CampaignGrid, a venture-backed, data-driven ad platform to deliver pre-roll online video to “specific target markets.” Hidary has also begun running Spanish-language TV ads on various cable channels, including Telemundo. Says Hidary, “We’re using a combination of channels in a more efficient way” than Republican nominee Joseph Lhota and Democratic front-runner Bill de Blasio.

But being efficient has its own costs. Hidary is still being called “the New York mayoral candidate you probably haven’t heard of.” Even sources in New York’s tech community tell me they’re waiting for him to gather more traction outside of his insular tech circle before more publicly getting behind him.

Long shot as Hidary may seem, stranger things have happened, particularly in a race where the current leading candidate, de Blasio, is widely seen as part-time populist, and not a terribly tech friendly one at that.

As Charlie O’Donnell of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures puts it: “How friendly will Bill de Blasio be to companies like Uber and Halio when he’s taking money from the taxi lobby?  Will he support consumers who rent their rooms on Airbnb or side with the hotels?”


New Fundings

Flipboard, the popular app for browsing news and social media on phones and tablet, has raised $50 million in new funding, in a round led by Rizvi Traverse Management and Goldman Sachs, reports AllThingsD. The new funding puts the valuation of the Palo Alto, Calif., company at $800 million, says the report.

AngelList, the San Francisco-based online network for investors and entrepreneurs, has raised $24 million at a valuation “in the $150 million range,” reports Dan Primack of Fortune. Among the many investors in the deal is Atlas Venture, Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and dozens of individual investors, including venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and Twitter cofounder Ev Williams.

Darktrace, a U.K.-based cyber defense platform that tricks hackers to expose them, has raised $20 million from Invoke Capital, the new, $1 billion venture capital firm spearheaded by former Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch. Lynch has been accused of misrepresenting financial results to Hewlett-Packard, which acquired Autonomy in 2011; he says the claims have no merit. Darktrace is the first investment of Invoke, which includes many of Lynch’s former staff at Autonomy.

Apmetrix, a San Diego-based company focused on cross-platform high-end video game and mobile app analytics, has raised an undisclosed seed amount from Analytics VenturesLa Costa Investment Group, and KI Investment Holdings.

Bugsnag, a San Francisco-based company that has built a crash monitoring platform for apps, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding led by Matrix Partners, with individuals investors including Andy McLoughlin and Jason Seats participating.

Visualead, a mobile page design platform startup based in Tel Aviv, has raised $1.6 million in Series A funding. Kaedan Capital and Entrée Capital led the round.


It’s a good time to be a newly public company. According to research firm IPO Scoop, 139 companies have gone out (as of this past Friday). Of that lot, 101 companies are trading at above their share price, and the total return from the issue price averages 34.27 percent.

FireEye, the cybersecurity software maker that went public on Friday, priced its shares at $20; they opened at $40.30 and closed at $36, raising around $300 million. Early backers of the company include Sequoia Capital and Norwest Venture Partners.

Shares of Rocket Fuel, a San Francisco-based ad tech company, opened at $59.95 on Friday, more than double their IPO offering price. They shot as high as $62.50 before closing the day at $56.10, raising around $116 million. The company’s venture investors include Mohr Davidow Venures, Labrador Ventures, and Northgate Capital.

Veracyte, a seven-year-old, South San Francisco-based company that develops diagnostics for thyroid and non-small cell lung cancer, has filed an S-1 with the SEC. The company has raised about $56 million to date, including from Domain Partners, which owns 19.3 percent of the company; Versant Ventures, which owns 22.6 percent of the company; TPG, which owns 22.2 percent, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which also owns 22.2 percent of the company.


On Friday, Kieran Taylor, a former Akamai senior director of marketing, was fined and banned by the SEC from serving as a public company officer or director, to settle charges that he helped funnel illegal tips to Raj Rajaratnam, the hedge fund manager imprisoned for insider trading.

Ayla Networks, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company cloud platform company, has hired Michael Maeso as VP of worldwide sales. Maeso has has been a sales exec at numerous startups in the past, including July Systems, Cotendo (acquired by Akamai), and VitalStream (acquired by Internap). Ayla is backed by Voyager Capital and Crosslink Capital.

New Fund News

Iconiq Capital, a months-old San Francisco-based investment firm that invests on behalf of wealthy families, has raised a new, $10 million fund called Iconiq Strategic Partners Co-Invest, L.P., BL, according to a new SEC filing. Presumably, the funds have gone or will go to the firm’s new investment in BlackLine Systems, an L.A.-based company that produces accounting software and which raised an undisclosed amount of funding last month from Iconiq and Silver Lake Sumeru, Silver Lake’s middle market group.

Iconiq was formed earlier this year by Will Griffith, who spent a dozen years at Technology Crossover Ventures and left in January. Iconiq first surfaced in an SEC filing back in May. Griffith has since hired his old TCV colleagueMatthew Jacobson, who left TCV in 2008 to join Groupon. Jacobson had left Groupon in June of last year and was an working as an investor at Battery Ventures before joining Griffith.

Job Listings

Baxter Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Baxter International, is looking for a managing director. The job is in Deerfield, Ill., about 25 miles north of Chicago, and to apply, you need previous experience in a VC role, established relationships with medical device VCs, and some board experience.

Essential Reads

Margit WennmachersAndreessen Horowitz‘s famously no-nonsense marketing partner, is profiled in the San Francisco Chronicle, which calls her one of the most powerful people in Silicon Valley. Wennmachers tells the paper of her firm: “We’re so connected, it’s the equivalent of the White House.”

If Twitter is the last splashy IPO for a while, that’s perfectly okay with Silicon Valley investors, they insist. “We might not get the mega-IPOs after Twitter, but lots of start-ups are solving real problems now,” one tells the Sunday Telegraph.

Want to give yourself five stars online? It might cost you, notes the New York Times. Today, New York regulators are announcing the most comprehensive crackdown to date on deceptive reviews on the Internet.


Maria Konnikova of the New Yorker presents a compelling case against redshirting your kid, writing: “While earlier studies have argued that redshirted children do better both socially and academically — citing data on school evaluations, leadership positions, and test scores — more recent analyses suggest that the opposite may well be the case.”

Billionaire George Soros gets hitched again. (Yes, there’s a prenup in place. William Zabel, Soros’s attorney, told the New York Post last year that he will “leave the bulk of his estate to charity but he intends to provide generously for his wife.”)

Extreme bravery in action by a husband-and-wife pair of photojournalists. (Warning: this link contains some graphic images of that massacre at an upscale mall in Nairobi on Saturday.)

Retail Therapy

Check out this elegant, ridiculous breathalyzer. There’s no better way to convey to your passengers that you tend to drink a lot.

Bonobos makes these pants out of beer bottles (and water and juice and soda bottles and old TV trays). You’ll probably sweat a ton, but you’ll look great and you’ll be helping to save the environment. Sort of.

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