StrictlyVC: March 24, 2014

Hello, and happy Monday!


Top News in the A.M.

Move over, AmazonCisco Systems say it plans to begin offering “cloud” computing service to corporate customers, pledging to spend $1 billion over the next two years to enter the market, reports the Wall Street Journal.


Bubba Muraka: DFJ’s Latest Whiz

Steve Jurvetson has always been DFJ’s boy wonder, a polymath whose interests range from nanoscience to space travel and who received his electrical engineering degree from Stanford in two-and-a-half years (then he nabbed his master’s, then an MBA).

Now, the Sand Hill Road venture firm appears to have found a new whiz in Bubba Muraka, who was brought on as a managing director last May and has some pretty impressive credentials of his own.

The son of a scientist and an engineer, Muraka grew up in San Jose and Cupertino before heading off to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, “mostly because I wanted to go somewhere my parents couldn’t drive to see me by surprise,” he tells me over coffee at San Francisco’s Epicenter Café.

As he was graduating, Microsoft recruited him to Seattle, where in 2001, Muraka was among a group of graduates to invent one of the earliest versions of social networking, an online application called Three Degrees. Eighteen months after Muraka arrived at Microsoft, however, his group was reorganized, its resources cut, and Muraka headed back to Cal Poly and earned his master’s degree.

Again, Microsoft came knocking, this time offering Muraka the chance to run all product for Bing in the Bay Area. He happily stayed another three years. But by 2008, like a lot of top talent, Muraka — who speaks fast and smiles often — found himself at Facebook, where he talked his way into a business development role. He wanted to learn something new. What he discovered was how to handily outmaneuver traditional biz dev people. “I’d built Web software and desktop software and I understood the product and the engineering side of things,” he says. “The business person would have to bring in the engineer or product manager and I’d just start negotiating directly with that person and all of a sudden, we’d have an awesome deal for Facebook. It was sort of like a superpower.”

It became too rote, in fact, so in early 2011, Muraka asked to switch to product management. With the move, he became the third product manager at Facebook to focus on mobile, and the first to zero in on Android specifically, eventually leading more than 50 people in the creation of Facebook’s Android app. (Given Android’s adoption, it’s probably the most-used interface for Facebook at this point.)

Whether all of that experience will translate into success at DFJ is an open question, though it’s easy to see how it might.

Muraka, for example, recently led the Series A round of CircleCI, a “continuous integration platform” that basically takes code sitting on a developer’s GitHub repository and quickly runs tests on it on Amazon’s Web services, pushing out what’s working to end users. The company has plenty of competitors, including CloudBees and Semaphore. But CircleCI has “built the best product out there,” says Muraka, “and as one of the few VCs who has written and shipped desktop, Web, and mobile software, I think I uniquely get it. I really see the power of the future they’ve created.”

In the meantime, Muraka, a nut for all things mobile, can’t resist developing a still-stealth mobile company in parallel. “The agreement I had with DFJ was that I’d finish the company building, so I’m chairman but I got out of an operational role at the end of 2013.” Muraka replaced himself as CEO with a former COO of Virgin Mobile. “So, it’s like, going to be a thing,” he says excitedly.

I ask the newly minted VC if his startup has raised any capital. “None so far,” he says with a slight smirk. “We’re still debating.” (Smart guy.)


New Fundings

Actifio, a five-year-old, Boston-based data storage company, has raised $100 million at a $1 billion, reports Dealbook. The round was led by Tiger Global Management, which participation from earlier investorsAndreessen HorowitzGreylock PartnersNorth Bridge Venture Partners, and other venture capital firms. Actifio’s newest round brings its total funding to roughly $212 million. Dealbook takes a look at its place in the data storage universe.

Avazu, a 4.5-year-old, Shanghai-based programmatic ad platform, has raised $48 million in Series A financing led by Gaorong Capital. Other investors include “domestic and international companies, as well as an experienced U.S. Internet-focused private equity fund,” according to a release.

CounterTack, a 6.5-year-old, Waltham, Ma.-based threat detection software company, has raised an additional $3 million in funding that pushes its Series B round to $15 million. The funding comes from Siemens Venture Capital; CounterTack’s other investors, including Goldman SachsFairhaven Capital, and OnPoint Technologies, have provided the company with $25 million in funding altogether.

Kolltan Pharmaceuticals, a 6.5-year-old, New Haven, Cn.-based drug developer focused on treatments across breast, lung, and ovarian cancers, has raised $60 million in fresh funding, according to a Form D first flagged by Med City News. The Yale spin-off has raised roughly $150 million to date, including from Purdue PharmaHBM BioCapitalCeltic Therapeutics ManagementTichenor Ventures and Osage University Partners.

Leju Holdings, a six-year-old, Beijing-based online-to-offline real estate services and advertising platform, has agreed to sell China’s Tencent Holdings 15 percent of its business for $180 million. The move underscores Tencent’s designs on broadening its services to better compete with Alibaba Group Holding. Leju offers services including mobile apps and payment mechanisms for real-estate buyers and property agents. Earlier this month, it filed with the SEC to go public.

Off-Grid Electric, a two-year-old, Arusha,Tanzania-based company providing solar lighting services in Africa, has raised $7 million in funding from SolarCityVulcan Capital, and Omidyar Network. VentureBeat has much more here.

Procured Health, a two-year-old, Chicago-based company whose software aims to help control hospital supply spend, has raised $4 million in Series A funding. FCA Venture Partners out of Nashville, Tn., led the round. The company has raised $5.1 million altogether, including from Bessemer Venture PartnersZimmerman Ventures, and Fidelity Biosciences.

Vicarious, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based artificial intelligence company that aims to create a machine that can think like humans, has raised $40 million in fresh funding led by Formation 8. Other investors in the round included Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, actor Ashton Kutcher, Box CEO Aaron Levie, Y Combinator president Sam Altman, Braintree founder Bryan JohnsonKhosla VenturesGood Ventures FoundationFelicis VenturesInitialized CapitalOpen Field CapitalZarco Investment GroupMetaplanet Holdings and Founders Fund. Vicarious received $15 million in a first round in 2012. Last month, the WSJ took an extensive look at the company, which has now raised $60 million altogether.

WelVU, a 15-month-old, Portland, Oregon-based whose software allows doctors and nurses to create and send interactive presentations to patients with such information as their vital signs, scheduling, X-rays, blood results, and notes, has raised $1.25 million in seed financing from undisclosed sources. VentureBeat has more here.



Globoforce Group, a 17-year-old, Southborough, Ma.-based software firm, cancelled its planned IPO late last week, citing unfavorable market conditions. PitchBook, the research firm, says the move also suggests that large financial institutions are becoming picky about which stocks to back.

Hold on to your hats. The IPO of “Candy Crush Saga” maker King Digital is slated for Wednesday.



Berkeley Design Automation, a 13-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based company focused on nanometer analog, mixed-signal, and RF circuit verification, has been acquired by publicly traded Mentor Graphics for undisclosed terms. Berkeley Design Automation had raised roughly $20 million over the years, including from Bessemer Venture PartnersPanasonicWoodside Fund, and Western Technology Investment.

YourBus, a three-year-old, Bangalore, India-based GPS-based bus tracking and analytics platform, has been acquired by the e-commerce and online travel company IbiboGroup for undisclosed terms. IbiboGroup is a joint venture between the South Africa-based media and Internet company Naspers and Tencent.



Business Insider has produced one of its famous “lists of the most important people in Silicon Valley.” Here’s who they came up with, laid out on one page.

Mark Fasciano, a managing director at Canrock Ventures, a four-year-old venture firm in Brookville, New York, is embroiled in a controversy over whether Canrock violated conflict-of-interest rules by investing taxpayer dollars in five startups in which it has stakes — four of them reportedly founded by Fasciano. In 2012, Canrock was among seven venture firms chosen by New York State to invest a total of $35 million in federal funds in tech startups across the state. Newsday has more here.

Sara Haider, a mobile engineer and technical lead at Twitter for four-plus years, is leaving for the anonymous social startup Secret, where she’ll be responsible for launching an Android version of the app. Twitter’s VP of analytics and business intelligence, Cayley Torgeson, is also leaving the company, which Re/code’s sources characterize as a big loss for the company. As Re/code notes, Torgeson is in charge of Twitter’s internal analytics. “In a nutshell, he’s the guy who can tell top brass if Twitter is ‘working’ or not.”

Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla is reportedly coming to the aid of the publicly traded, advanced biofuel producer Kior, which he personally incubated and that last week warned that liquidity constraints could force a default or even a bankruptcy filing. Khosla and Bill Gates poured $100 million into Kior just last fall; now, “final terms and conditions are currently being negotiated” for a $25 million loan from Khosla, a Kior spokeswoman told The Deal.

Larry Page, CEO of Google, gave stock in his company valued at roughly $177 million to charity in February, according to SEC documents discovered by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The outlet’s conclusion: that Page is “much more charitable than he let on in a TED conference conversation with interviewer Charlie Rose [last] week.”

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner now tops Glassdoor’s list of the 50 highest-rated CEOs, per employee feedback on the jobs site. Weiner steals the slot from Facebook‘s Mark Zuckerberg, who apparently fell all the way to ninth place. Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs and Intuit CEO Brad Smith are also well-liked by employees, judging by the list. Vator has more here.



Y Combinator is hosting its bi-annual Demo Day on Tuesday in Mountain View, Ca., from 10 am. to 5 pm PST.

The CoinSummit conference also kicks off tomorrow in San Francisco and features an all-star line-up, including Marc AndreessenMicky Malka of Ribbit Capital, and Jeremy Liew of Lightspeed Venture Partners, among others. If you can’t make it, you can watch a live stream here.


Job Listings

Here, a Nokia business unit that brings together Nokia’s mapping and location assets under one brand, is looking for a head of business development in Sunnyvale, Ca.



Ad agencies have become active startup investors; four ad agencies alone have participated in 52 financing deals worth more than $500 million since 2011. CB Insights looks at who has been funding what.


Essential Reads

Over the weekend, PandoDaily dug up shocking court documents relating to an ongoing civil suit involving seven tech giants and the many employees whose wages they’ve being accused of conspiring to curb.

A big fight is beginning to brew over who owns car data, reports The Recorder. (Subscription required.) Last week, Senator Bill Monning of Carmel, Ca., introduced legislation that would give drivers control of their vehicle-generated data — from their locations to their driving habits to even, potentially, their musical preferences. And car makers, tech developers, and privacy advocates are watching closely to see what happens. The data will “implicate the privacy interests of people both inside and outside the car,” Nate Cardozo, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the outlet. “This is definitely new ground.”



The overprotected kid.

Silicon Valley’s brutal ageism.

Airbnb’s first pitch deck.

The best part of Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s first resume.


Retail Therapy

Boxed card sets from Thornwillow Press.

Bill Murray pillows.


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