StrictlyVC: November 22, 2013

110611_2084620_176987_imageHappy Friday! Hope you have a wonderful weekend. And stay tuned. Among other good stuff next week, we’ll feature Capital Sports Ventures in Washington, D.C. — a firm unlike any you’ve seen before.


Top News in the A.M.

Tech companies are hiring more women, though they still represent half of all new hires in the industry.

If you were being attacked by snakes on a plane, could you call your loved ones to let them know? This Q&A on new and proposed FCC rules answers all of your burning questions.


PR Pro to PE Investors: Time to Follow the Lead of VCs

Donna Sokolsky Burke has enjoyed a storied career in Silicon Valley. Having spun out of Netscape 20 years ago to form her own public relations firm, Sparkpr, Burke is probably as familiar with the inner workings of startups as venture capitalists (many of whom have also been Burke’s clients over the years). 

Yesterday, as we chatted about how venture investors promote their portfolio companies, as well as their own firms, I asked Burke who in the startup ecosystem needed help in burnishing their brand. Her immediate answer: “The private equity sector.” 

You say you wonder why PE pros aren’t more open about promoting their portfolio companies as well as themselves, but PE firms have always operated under the radar. Why you think this situation is rife for change?

PE firms aren’t communicating their value proposition or helping their portfolio companies to reinvent their own brands. If I were an institutional investor pouring billions into that asset class, I might wonder why.

What are their most obvious, missed opportunities?

You read the wrap-ups; you learn who did the big deal and spent billions of dollars [to acquire a stake in a company], then you don’t hear anything more about it. That’s very different from venture, where the deal is announced, and then there’s an onslaught of coverage about how a company is innovating within its industry, what incumbents it’s going after, [etc.]. With many of these PE deals, you have this huge inflection point and sometimes a new corporate structure, and it’s a great time to have a [public] discussion about how a portfolio company is reengaging customers and reinvigorating its brand, but it isn’t happening.

What’s the solution?

VCs blog and tweet and use LinkedIn and Quora. A lot people would benefit from authentic observations coming out of the PE industry, too.

As the tech industry has matured, it has produced a large number of mature, growth companies that aren’t necessarily on the verge of going public. And while entrepreneurs are very well-versed on what venture does, it gets more ambiguous what happens after that. Entrepreneurs are very clear on Series B and C and D rounds, but I think a lot of them struggle to understand their options beyond that point.

I’d love to see more PE firms take a stand on areas that they’re passionate about. Why they don’t baffles me.


New Fundings

Alpine Data Labs, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based company that provides big data and Hadoop analytics to its enterprise customers, has raised $16 million in funding from Sierra VenturesMission VenturesUMC Capital, and Robert Bosch Venture Capital. The company has raised $23.5 million to date, according to Crunchbase.

CoachUp, an 18-month-old, Boston-based online platform that athletes are using to find private coaches in every sport, nationwide, has raised $6.7 million in Series A funding led by Point Judith Capital and General Catalyst Partners. Other investors in the round included Data Point CapitalSuffolk Equity Partners, and individual investors. CoachUp had raised a $2.2 million seed fund last year.

Colingo, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based online English school that offers users live video classes, has raised $2.4 million round of funding led by Atlas Venture. Other participants in the round included 500 Startups, Morado Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Havoc Capital, Social Leverage and numerous angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

iSTAR Medical, a three-year-old, Belgium-based company whose ophthalmic implants aim to treat glaucoma, has raised $5.4 million in Series A financing led by Capricorn Health-Tech Fund NV and SRIW, with participation from INVESTSUD Group and Namur Invest. iSTAR spun out of the Seattle-based biomaterials company Healionics in 2010.

Rest Devices, a nearly three-year-old, Boston-based company that makes a wearable infant monitor that tracks temperature, among other things, has raised $1.3 million in seed funding, led by The Experiment Fund and joined by Boston area angel investors. The round brings the company’s total funding to $1.8 million. Lora Kolodny has the story here.

Spotify AB, the seven-year-old, Stockholm-based, music-streaming company has raised nearly $250 million in new financing led by Technology Crossover Venturesreports the WSJ, whose sources say the round values Spotify at roughly $4 billion. Last year, Spotify raised more than $100 million from investors at a valuation of around $3 billion.

Wevorce, a two-year-old, San Mateo-based online platform focused on helping divorcing couples, including by reducing the associated costs, has raised $1.7 million in seed funding led by Foundation Capital and Loopt cofounder Sam Altman. The company, a Y Combinator, graduate, has raised $2 million to date.

Xenex Disinfection Services, a four-year-old, San Antonio, Tex.-based company whose room disinfection system eliminates infection-causing bacteria, viruses and spores at healthcare facilities, has raised $11.3 million in funding. The funding comes from new investors Battery Ventures, and Targeted Technology Fund II and previous investors, including RK Ventures.


New Funds

Union Square Ventures, the 10-year-old, New York-based early-stage venture firm, is raising two, separate, $150 million funds that it expects to close in roughly one month’s time, according to documents viewed by Dow Jones. According to its report, one fund will be designated for early-stage investments; the other will be used to provide follow-on funding to companies in the firm’s portfolio that are breaking away from the pack and need growth financing.

As Dow Jones noted in its report yesterday, USV previously raised $200 million for its third early-stage fund, USV 2012 , and $165 million for its first late-stage pool. Interestingly, the firm says in its documents that it’s seeking smaller funds this time around because it’s of the opinion that both early- and late-stage deals require less investment than they have in recent years.



Shana Fisher, who runs her own early-stage venture firm, High Line Venture Partners, in New York, is joining Andreessen Horowitz as a board partner, a role that will see her representing the firm on some of its portfolio companies’ boards without being in its full-time employ. Fisher’s bets include Pinterest, Stripe, Makerbot, Vine, FiftyThree, and Refinery29.


IPOs, a Waltham, Mass.-based online service for hiring nannies and other at-home caregivers, has filed confidential paperwork with the SEC to hold an IPO next year, sources tell the Journal’s Doug MacMillan.

The New York-based online retailer Gilt Groupe is also eyeing a 2014 IPO — for real, this time, sources tell AllThingsD.

Is the IPO window shutting on biotech? Yesterday, TetraLogic Pharmaceuticals pulled its IPO, just a day after Trevena, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that focuses on acute decompensated heart failure, ditched its own plans to go public right now. TetraLogic produces a drug that’s being tested for treating colorectal cancer, ovarian cancer, and blood cancers.



Realtidbits, a 2.5-year-old, San Diego-based company that makes comments, forums, and analytics apps (among other things) for publishers and media companies, has been acquired by the commenting platform Livefyre. Realtidbits never announced venture funding; four-year-old, San Francisco-based Livefyre has raised roughly $20 million over the years, shows Crunchbase. Its backers include Greycroft Partnersff Venture Capital, and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, among others.



CB Insights has published some data on which firms have been most actively seed-funding Silicon Valley startups since 2009. The top 10 in descending order, says research firm, are: 500 StartupsSV AngelTrue VenturesFirst Round CapitalFelicis VenturesFounder CollectiveAndreessen HorowitzCharles River VenturesFloodgate and Harrison Metal. You can learn more here.


Job Listings

PayPal is looking for a director of corporate development in San Jose. To apply, you’ll need seven-plus years of experience in corporate development, or else two to four years in private equity, venture capital, and investment — plus five years in biz dev, product marketing, or product management. You’ll also need an MBA from a “top-rated” school.


Essential Reads

Amazon Web Services may be worth $50 billion in two years’ time, and even that estimate may be conservative, says this analyst.

It’s looking like a judge may let the Autonomy suit proceed against Hewlett Packard and its CEO, Meg Whitman.



Artist Kumi Yamashita dazzles by using nothing but nails and a single continuous thread.

These two, self-possessed kids are pretty dazzling, too.

The Bay Area’s real estate bubble, from both sides.

This guy committed a bunch of crimes while wearing an ankle monitor.


Retail Therapy

Heading to Paris in the near future? You might want to check out Coolhunting’s newest list of bars and restaurants to visit.

This little device turns your iPad into a 3D printer.

Design your own ugly sweater this holiday season.


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