StrictlyVC: October 16, 2013

110611_2084620_176987_thumbnailTop News in the A.M.

An 11th hour Senate fiscal deal may be in the works! Woo-hoo!
Apple gets its “spaceship” campus approved.

Silicon Valley’s Most Famous Rug Dealer Forms a New Fund

Pejman Nozad, Silicon Valley’s best-known rug dealer, has launched a new, low-flying venture firm.

According to SEC filings, Nozad began raising $20 million for the new firm, Pejman Mar, a couple of months ago; his cofounder in the venture is serial entrepreneur Mar Hershenson.

The new effort isn’t exactly top secret. Nozad has himself mentioned it in social media forums, and Hershenson’s LinkedIn profile reflects that she’s been co-running Pejman Mar since May. Still, Nozad isn’t discussing the effort publicly just yet. (When I’ve asked to meet about it over the last couple of months, he has politely declined each time, suggesting that we sit down at an unspecified future date.)

The firm will be the second that Nozad has cofounded. In 1999, Nozad partnered with Saeed and Rahimi Amidi, whose rug-dealing father had given Nozad one of his first jobs as a salesman soon after the Iranian native arrived in San Francisco with $700 in his pocket. Silicon Valley lore has it that Nozad so successfully formed relationships with the rug gallery’s well-heeled clients — including Sequoia Capital’s Doug Leone – that the Amidis and Nozad formed Amidzad Partners to seize on those ties and the investment opportunities that come with them.

Some VCs would kill for the track record that Nozad has established since, with past investments that include the mobile computing device company Danger, acquired by Microsoft in 2008; the online contest site Bix, which Yahoo purchased in 2006; and the online movie service Vudu, bought by Walmart in 2010.

None were huge home runs for investors, but Forbes estimates that Nozad is “worth in the ballpark of $50 million,” suggesting those many base hits have added up. More, Amidzad is an early investor in other, flashy companies that have yet to exit, including Dropbox, which Nozad himself reportedly introduced to Sequoia. (Dropbox closed its most recent round of $250 million a year ago, at a $4 billion valuation.)

It isn’t clear whether Nozad will continue to invest with Amidzad, on whose Website he remains featured. Rahimi Amidi didn’t respond to related questions.

Either way, he seems to have a hard-charging partner in Hershenson, a Stanford engineering PhD who has cofounded numerous companies, including, most recently, the mobile commerce company Revel Touch. The 2.5-year-old startup, since renamed Tocata, has raised more than $10 million from investors, including Nozad. (Hershenson left the company in November 2012.)

The duo has already placed numerous bets in recent months, including on a still-stealth startup called Solvvy; on Sensor Tower, whose tools help developers track and increase their app rankings within app stores; and on DoorDash, a food-delivery company whose funding was led by Khosla Ventures and Charles River Ventures.

The question now is whether investors will be as charmed with Nozad as the many industry friends he has made over the years. At least one VC who has co-invested alongside him thinks they will. Nozad’s credentials may not look like everyone else’s, the investor told me, but it’s all about track records. And “Pejman,” he said, “has a good reputation.”


New Fundings

1366 Technologies, a Bedford, Mass.-based maker of silicon solar cells, has raised $15 million in Series C funding led by Tokuyama Corp. Previous investors North Bridge Venture PartnersPolaris Venture PartnersVantagePoint Capital Partners and Energy Technology Ventures also participated in the round. The company has raised roughly $64 million to date.

7signal Solutions, a year-old Akron, Ohio-based company that aims to make wireless LAN networks work more reliably, has raised $4 million in funding from Allos Ventures and Mutual Capital Partners FundsNorth Coast Angel Fund, which helped provide 7signal’s $250,000 in seed funding, also participated in the new round.

CounterTack, a nine-year-old, Waltham, Mass.-based security software firm, has $12 million in Series B funding from investors including Goldman Sachs and existing investor Fairhaven Capital. The company has raised $21.5 million to date.

EcoFactor, a seven-year-old, Redwood City, Calif.-based company whose software is designed to reduce customers’ home energy consumption, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by power company NRG Energy, with existing investors Claremont Creek VenturesRockPort Capital Partners, and Aster Capital participating in the funding. To date, EcoFactor has raised $23.9 million. GigaOm has a good overview of the company here.

Immatics, an eight-year-old, Germany-based biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the development of new immunotherapeutic substances for cancer therapy, has raised $43.7 million in new funding from a syndicate that includes Wellington Partners and biotech billionaire Dietmar Hopp. FierceBiotech has more here.

Logi Analytics, a 13-year-old, McLean, Va.-based company that makes Web reporting and data visualization software, has raised $27.5 million from new investor LLR Partners, a private equity firm in Philadelphia that focuses on business intelligence companies. Logi Analytics has now raised about $45 million altogether, including from Updata PartnersSummit Partners, and Grotech Ventures.

mParticle, a new mobile data platform founded by former Yahoo ad executive Michael Katz, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Bowery Capital, with participating from Google Ventures and Greylock Partners. The company is based in New York.

Refinery29, the nine-year-old, New York-based fashion and lifestyle site, has raised $20 million in Series C funding from growth equity firm Stripes Group, bringing total funding since inception to $30.4 million. The company’s earlier investors include FloodgateLead Edge CapitalFirst Round CapitalLerer Ventures and Hearst Corporation.

Sofie Biosciences, a Culver City, Calif., company that makes molecular imaging probes and devices, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Tata Industries. Existing investors MRM Capital and the Cycad Group also participated in the funding. The company had closed on a $2 million seed round in 2010.

StarMobile, an 18-month-old, Atlanta-based company developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by U.S. Venture Partners. Other participants included GRA Venture Fund and Atlanta Technology Angels. The company’s software aims to extend enterprise applications to users on any mobile device.

Thinking Phone Networks, a seven-year-old, Cambridge, Mass., communications services provider, has raised $10 million in Series C follow-on funding from previous investors Bessemer Venture Partners and Advanced Technology Ventures. The company has raised about $30 million to date.


New Funds

500 Startups, the Mountain View, Calif.-based investment firm, is in the market again, according to a new SEC filing, which shows 500 Startups III is targeting $100 million. Four investing partners are listed on the new filing: Dave McClureChristine TsaiGeorge Kellerman, and Christen O’Brien. (TechCrunch has previously reported that the 30-person firm has empowered 10 employees to make investments.) The target is considerably higher the $44 million that that the firm closed on in July. As reported at the time, that second fund was nearly double the size of the firm’s first fund, but it fell short of its $50 million target.

CommonAngels, a well-known startup investing group of around 50 Boston-area angel investors, is looking to raise a $35 million new pooled fund, according to an SEC filing. The group has already collected $11.5 million, says the filing, which lists the group’s managing directors, James Geshwiler and Maia Heymann.



Media Temple, a 15-year-old, L.A.-based Web hosting services company that largely serves professional developers and designers, has been acquired by the Web hosting giant GoDaddyreports VentureBeat. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Media Temple will continue to operate independently, says GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving. The acquisition marks GoDaddy’s sixth in little more than a year.

Optimal, a five-year-old, Palo Alto-based social media advertising and analytics platform is being bought by the social media marketing company Brand Networks for $35 million in cash and stock. Optimal had raised just more than $5 million, including from Neu Venture Capital, the Social Internet Fund and a long line of individuals.



Oxford Immunotec, a 13-year-old, U.K.-based medical diagnostics company, has filed to go public. It hasn’t yet listed a price range but it’s looking to raise $86 million. The company’s principal shareholders are Clarus Lifesciences, which owns 24.3 percent of the company; New Leaf Ventures, which owns 13 percent; Espirit Nominees Limited, which owns 10 percent; Imperial Innovations Businesses, which owns 7.9 percent; Invesco Asset Management, which owns 7.9 percent, and Wellington Partners, which owns 7.7 percent.

Aerie Pharmaceuticals, an eight-year-old, Bedminster, that’s developing treatments for glaucoma and other eye diseases, announced the terms for its IPO yesterday. The company plans to raise $68 million by offering 5.3 million shares at a price range of $12 to $14 for a valuation of about $265 million. Aerie is predominately owned by VCs. Alta Partners owns 27 percent of the company. TPG owns 27 percent. Clarus Lifesciences owns 21.7 percent. And Sofinnova Venture Partners owns 19.3 percent.



Today is the last day of the O’Reilly Velocity conference in New York City.

MobileCon 2013, a conference that is “100 percent business and mobile IT focused” kicks off today at the San Jose, Calif., convention center. You can learn more here.

Job Listings

The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan is looking for a senior investment associate to help evaluate new investments. The ideal candidate has  five to seven years of post-graduate experience in PE, banking or consulting. A graduate degree is also preferred.


Essential Reads

Path, the social network, appears to be struggling. Valleywag reports that the San Francisco company laid off 20 percent of its staff yesterday and that it’s having trouble finding an investor to lead its next funding round.

Here’s why it’s so hard to climb Amazon’s corporate ladder.

Twitter will list on the NYSE as — what else — TWTR.



Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who broke the NSA story, has left the Guardian to start his own “very substantial new media outlet.” Reuters’ sources say his financial backer is Pierre Omidyar.

Oddly, it was a Norman Mailer fan who later became his editor and, now, his authorized biographer.

Training young gentleman in the mollification of bullies. (“First, attempt to broker a détente…over cucumber sandwiches.”)


Retail Therapy

Beard wash. It’s the least you can do if you’re planning to grow a long, smelly beard this winter.

card case so soft you’ll regret throwing the last of your business cards into the fireplace last Christmas.


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