StrictlyVC: March 19, 2014

Good Wednesday morning! We know some of you didn’t receive yesterday’s email; we’re not sure why but here’s a link with our apologies in case you missed it.


Top News in the A.M.

The hedge fund Fortress Investment Group, along with venture firmsBenchmark and Ribbit Capital, are buying a stake in Pantera Bitcoin Partners, a hedge fund that buys and sells virtual currencies. San Francisco-based Pantera Capital was founded in 2003 by Tiger Management veteran Dan Morehead, who tells Dealbook that in recent months, his 16-person firm has shifted its attention entirely to work on investments in the virtual currency world.


Google Glass Meets Healthcare with Augmedix

It’s early days for Google Glass, and an almost absurd minefield of challenges lie ahead of it. But that’s not stopping a small number of startups from springing up around healthcare-related applications that can arguably cut costs, provide doctors more time with patients, and improve health outcomes.

Augmedix — a 20-month-old, San Francisco-based startup that’s announcing this morning that it has raised $3.2 million led by DCM and Emergence Capital Partners — calls itself the “first and largest Google Glass startup” focused on healthcare. Its complicated task put simply: It beams electronic health record information to doctors while they’re meeting with patients, so doctors can, say, query someone’s white blood cell counts in real-time without having to traipse back to their computers in the middle of that patient’s visit or in between patient visits.

Whether or not Augmedix is the biggest company focused on turning Glass into a physician’s tool “by every metric,” as its CEO, Ian Shakil tell me, its claims can’t be far off. According to the research firm Datafox, only a handful of startups are dabbling in any kind of Glass-related healthcare applications at the moment, partly because there’s still too much uncertainty about Glass’s widespread uptake, and largely because Glass isn’t protected under federal information privacy rules, meaning that each patient has to give his or her written consent – an effective but inelegant workaround.

So why is Augmedix treading where few startups are ready to go yet? Shakil, who cofounded Augmedix a few weeks after graduating from Stanford Business School (which is also where he met his cofounders), talked with me about it the other day.

You’re announcing new funding but you closed it in August. Why share the news now?

We just wanted to be out of the media’s eye and focus on execution and on hitting more milestones and making more progress before talking to media.

What sorts of milestones can you share? How many doctors are using Augmedix?

We’re selling to large groups of doctors, rather than doctor to doctor, and so far we have several health systems and doctors groups [as customers] and we’re generating revenue. As healthcare continues to consolidate, our job becomes easier because there are fewer people to sell to. Enterprise sales is also the bread and butter of Emergence Capital, so it’s great to have them [as an investor].

How do you address privacy concerns?

Patients don’t walk in the door to see their doctor wearing Google Glass. They’re handed a laminated FAQ and are educated about [the process] and can opt out of having the doctor wear it.

We’ve also created an entirely separate [from Google] cloud-based service that’s on pipes that we control, and we’ve signed business associate agreements with customers, saying, “We’re doing all the [protected health care information] just like other electronic healthcare companies.” We’ve hardened the device in lots of ways, too, such that it’s even more secure than a smart phone in a health care environment.

As a third-party developer, you’re always at the mercy of the platform. How do you mitigate that risk?

I don’t think the risk is as great as some people think. Also, though our materials are all about Google Glass, we’re hardware agnostic; [our tech] also runs on [the Android-based] Vuzix M100. And there are many other smart glass technologies out there, some operating in stealth mode; it’s becoming a competitive space.

I think Glass is the best right now and that it has the best software environment and hardware, so it’s our go-to. But over the long run, I think we’ll be protected no matter what happens.

You have 36 employees working on creating this technology and getting it into physician offices. Is it safe to say you’ll be raising money again soon?

Yes, actually, we’ll look to raise another round, bigger than the amount we’ve raised thus far, later this year.


New Fundings

Aquantia, a 10-year-old, Milpitas, Ca.-based high-speed Ethernet connectivity solution for data centers, mobile and enterprise infrastructure, has raised $16 million in Series G financing led by the programmatic integrated circuit maker Xilinx. The company has garnered roughly $160 million altogether, from investors that include New Enterprise AssociatesGreylock PartnersLightspeed Venture PartnersPinnacle Ventures and Rusnano.

Blue River Technology, a three-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based robotics company that’s using computer vision techniques in agriculture (including to identify and kill unwanted weeds), has raised $10 million in Series A-1 funding led by Data Collective, with participation fromInnovation Endeavors and return backer Khosla Ventures. The company has now raised $13.4 million altogether.

Cloud4Wi, a year-old, San Francisco-based Wi-Fi services company that spun out of WiTech, an Italian company offering managed solutions and services in the telco market, has raised $4 million in Series A funding from the Italian venture firm United Ventures.

Cobrain, a year-old, Bethesda, Md.-based “cross-merchant personalization engine” that aims to present shoppers with the goods of various retailers at once, has raised $3 million in seed funding from a group of unnamed angel investors. Cobrain was founded by founder Rob McGovern.

CorTechs Labs, a 13-year-old, San Diego-based company that develops and markets brain imaging software designed to diagnose a variety of brain disorders, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series B funding from Dragasac, a company incorporated in the Isle of Man.

Glo, an 8.5-year-old, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based LED product developer, has raised $30 million in Series D funding, led by an unnamed new investor. Other participants in the round included earlier investors Wellington PartnersTeknoinvestNano Future InvestEnergy Future InvestFoundation Asset Management, and others. Glo, spun out of Lund University in Sweden, has raised roughly $115 million to date.

Heyo, a three-year-old, Blacksburg, Va.-based social marketing platform designed to help small businesses, has raised $2 million in Series A funding from Valleys’ Ventures, a Radford, Va., investment firm.

Integrated DNA Technologies, a 27-year-old, Coralville, In.-based company that calls itself the world’s largest manufacturer of custom nucleic acid products, has raised a slug of funding from Summit Partners. No terms were disclosed, but the company’s founder, Joseph Walder, remains its majority shareholder.

Nitrous.IO, a 1.5-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based cloud-based developer platform, has raised $6.65 million in Series A funding. Earlier investor Bessemer Venture Partners led the round with participation from investors that included 500 StartupsCrunchfund, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and Golden Gate Ventures. Nitrous.IO has raised a $1 million seed round last April.

Parchment, an 11-year-old, Scottsdale, Az.-based education credentials technology company, has raised $10 million in fresh funding led by The Raine Group. Earlier investors, including Novak Biddle Venture PartnersSalmon River CapitalGSV Capital and ICG Holdings, also participated. The company has raised $45 million altogether.

Percolate, a three-year-old, New York-based a startup that helps brands figure out what content to create and share on social neworks, has raised $24 million in Series B funding led by Sequoia Capital. Earlier investors GGV CapitalFirst Round CapitalLerer Ventures, and ad agency WPP also participated in the new funding. The company has raised $34.5 million to date.

Platfora, a three-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based that promises to “mask the complexity of Hadoop,” making it easy for enterprises to understand facts in their business across events, actions, behaviors and times, has raised $38 million led by Tenaya CapitalCiti VenturesCisco Systems and Allegis Capital, also participated in the round, alongside earlier investors Andreessen HorowitzBattery VenturesSutter Hill Ventures and In-Q-Tel. The company has raised $65 million to date.

RadPad, a 14-month-old, L.A.-based apartment rental search app, has raised $1 million in financing, including from Deep Fork Capital and Post Investments. The funding brings RadPad’s total funding to $2 million, according to Crunchbase.

Reonomy, a year-old, New York-based commercial real estate technology company that provides investors and lenders with data and analytics, has raised $3.7 million in Series A funding led by SoftBank Capital. Earlier investors Resolute VenturesHigh Peaks Venture PartnersKEC Ventures, and FinTech Collective also participated in the round. The company has raised roughly $4.8 million to date.

Simply Measured, a four-year-old, Seattle-based company whose software helps its customers analyze conversations and marketing efforts across major social media platforms, has raised $20 million in Series C funding led by Trinity Ventures with earlier investors Bessemer Venture Partners and MHS Capital participating. The company has raised $28.8 million altogether.

SummitIG, an 18-month-old, Dulles, Va.-based company building a new 170-mile dark fiber route in Virginia, has raised a “large term loan” of unspecified size ORIX Ventures and an equity investment (whose size wasn’t disclosed either) from earlier investor Columbia Capital.

Wedpics, a three-year-old, Raleigh, N.C.-based online and mobile platform that encourages wedding participants to share photos, has raised $1 .5 million in Series A financing led by IDEA Fund Partners. Other participants in the round included Great Oaks Venture Capital, the angel group TAP, and numerous other individual investors.


New Funds

Australian technology investor and former Microsoft executive Daniel Petre is preparing to launch a $50 million Australia-focused technology investment fund, reports Business Review Weekly. Petre is co-founding the fund with Craig Blair, CEO of Zeebox Australia and a former managing director of Expedia Australia. According to the outlet, the duo plan to invest between $2 million and $5 million in each startup they back.

Ysios Capital, a six-year-old, Barcelona-based venture capital firm, is looking to raise a new, 100 million Euro fund to back early-stage life sciences companies, the firm says in a release. The fund will target companies in Europe and North America and will be the firm’s second vehicle. Its first, the 69 million Euro Ysios BioFund I, was launched in 2008 and has already distributed capital to its investors in each of the last three years, says the firm.



Let the games begin. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba will hold the kickoff meeting for its planned U.S. initial public offering on March 25, setting in motion the most high-profile listing since Facebook’s offering nearly two years ago, sources told Reuters yesterday. (The WSJ is reporting that the NYSE is the front-runner right now.)



It’s a bit premature to include this in “exits,” but Kior, a publicly traded operator of the first U.S. commercial-scale cellulosic biofuel plant, dropped 39 cents to 65 cents per share at the market close yesterday, after telling regulators it has serious doubts about staying in business. The company, which went public in June 2011 (its shares priced at $15 a piece), just raised $100 million in October from Khosla Ventures and Gates VenturesBloomberg has much more here.

AdMobius, a two-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based mobile ad startup, has been acquired by Lotame, an independent data management platform, for undisclosed terms. AdMobius had raised $5 million in the fall of 2012 fromOpus Capital and Storm Ventures. Still-private Lotame has raised roughly $50 million over its 7-year history, including from Battery Ventures,BetaworksEmergence Capital PartnersHillcrest Management,TrueBridge Capital PartnersPinnacle Ventures and Sozo Ventures.

Cameo, a video-making app that launched last fall, has been acquired byIAC, with its 14 employees headed over the IAC subsidiary Vimeo. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but the company’s CEO tells Re/code Vimeo will continue running Cameo as a standalone app. If Cameo raised outside funding, it never reported it.

Cenzic, a 14-year-old, Campbell, Ca.based company that makes application security testing technologies, has been acquired by 19-year-old, Chicago-based Trustwave, a broader security testing platform. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Cenzic had raised $15 million in equity, according to Crunchbase, including from Mohr Davidow Ventures,Hummer Winblad Venture PartnersJK&B Capital and Advanced Technology Ventures.

Vega-Chi, a five-year-old, London-based bond trading platform, has been acquired by the institutional trading network Liquidnet for undisclosed terms. Vega-Chi had raised $3.2 million from Octopus Investments in 2011.



Sam Altman, the newly appointed head of Y Combinator, talks, a lot, notes Re/code in new profile of the 28-year-old. Writes reporter Liz Gannes: “If you ask anyone who knows Altman, from former employees to investors to mentors to mentees to friends, they’ll mention his perpetual availability — the way he seems to reach out every day, multiple times per day, on the phone or email or text or instant messenger. Altman estimates he keeps in close touch with ‘low hundreds’ of people on a daily basis.”

Venture capitalist John Doerr has cashed out more off his Googleholdings. On Monday, while you were eating Irish soda bread, he was unloading 3,497 shares on the open market for a total haul of $4.2 million. In late February, Doerr, who reportedly now directly owns just 2,522 shares in the company (value: approximately $3 million), sold 11,774 shares of the stock for a total value of $14.2 million. He also sold roughly $4 million worth of shares in mid-December.

Marc Whitten, chief product officer of Microsoft‘s Xbox division, is leaving to become the chief product officer of the 12-year-old, wireless audio company Sonos. Geekwire looks at what the move means.


Job Listings

Facebook is looking for a director of global mobile partnerships at its Menlo Park, Ca., headquarters.



Inspired by investor Hunter Walk’s post, “New Grads: Midstage Startups Are Your Best First Job in Tech,” Datafox has compiled a list of 45 companies that are Series B and C funded, less than 10 years old, and experiencing what the research firm calls “significant traction.” You can check out its findings here.

How hot are investors on the Internet of Things ecosystem? CB Insights says financings in related startups grew each successive quarter of last year, hitting an eight-quarter high in the fourth quarter. Altogether, VCs plowed $1.1 billion into 153 deals, according to the firm.


Essential Reads

Fund of funds Paul Capital is winding down its portfolio and shuttering all but its San Francisco office after a planned sale to Hamilton Lane collapsed. As much as $300 million of open commitments will be returned to investors, sources tell the WSJ.

Google is in hot water for scanning millions of students’ email messages and allegedly building “surreptitious” profiles to target advertising at them.



More than a dozen neurotoxins cause behavioral and cognitive problems. Eek. Here they are.

Night-vision contact lenses might be a thing soon.

What the world eats for breakfast.

GQ meets the people at Buzzfeed who curate all those super adorable pet slideshows you occasionally click through. (We won’t tell anyone.)


Retail Therapy

Woolpower sweaters. Good enough for the Swedish army.

We also love Oliver Gal, for affordable wall art that won’t remind you of your (fun but gross) college apartment.


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