StrictlyVC: May 1, 2014

Hello and happy Thursday morning, everyone. StrictlyVC is trying out a new email service provider, so you may notice some changes. Hopefully, one of them will be that you have, in fact, received your issue of the newsletter today! [Please, she thinks, hands clasped.]

You might also notice that there’s no column today. Apologies — with the switchover, we ran out of time yesterday. We hope you find some useful intel in the tidbits below, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow.

Top News in the A.M.
Alibaba, the Chinese Internet giant that’s about to go public in the U.S, is trying to regain a stake in its Alipay payment affiliate. No deal is imminent, but it would be a big deal to Alibaba’s future shareholders, argues Dealbook.
New Fundings
Ambri, a four-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based maker of liquid-metal battery technology, has raised $35 million in Series C funding to build a commercial-scale factory. New investors in Ambri’s round include the Swiss insurance companyBuilding Insurance Bern, and KLP Enterprises (the family office of Karen Pritzker and her husband, Michael Vlock). Earlier investors Bill Gates and Vinod Khosla also participated in the round, which brings the amount of equity Ambri has raised to date to $50 million. GigaOm has much more here.

Ayla Networks, a 3.5-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based company whose cloud connectivity software helps manufacturers turn appliances and more into intelligent devices, has raised $14.5 million in Series B funding from Cisco Investments andSAIF Partners. Other participants in the round included the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group; Linear VentureSJF Ventures;Crosslink Capital; and Voyager Capital.

CloudGenix, a year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based networking company that helps companies manage multiple types of apps over multiple types of devices and connections, has raised $9 million in Series A funding from Charles River Venturesand Mayfield Fund.
Edgewater Networks, a 12-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based company that makes enterprise session border controllers to connect, optimize, and secure IP-based communications, has raised $5 million in debt financing from Eastward Capital. The company has raised at least $12 million in debt and equity in recent years, shows Crunchbase.

Evrything, a three-year-old, London-based software company whose applications help companies connect their devices to the Web, has raised $7 million in Series A funding from AtomicoDawn CapitalBHLP, and Cisco Systems. The company had raised an undisclosed amount of seed capital led by Atomico in 2011.

Flipps Media, a three-year-old, Uniondale, N.Y.-based company whose app enables users to stream media to televisions without additional devices, has raised $2.4 million from Earlybird Venture Capital and earlier investors, including investor Tim Draper.

LeadiD, a three-year-old, Ambler, Pa.-based software company that makes tools for buyers and sellers of online customer leads, has raised $7 million in Series A funding from Comcast Ventures and Tribeca Venture PartnersGenacast Ventures, which had led LeadiD’s seed funding, also participated in the round. LeadiD has raised $9.7 million altogether.

Liquid Data Intelligence, a months-old, Lisbon, Portugal-based software analytics service that promises to help mobile app developers and marketers optimize conversion rates by personalizing their apps for individual users in real-time, has closed a $1 million seed round from Faber Ventures and Portugal Ventures.

Moveline, a 2.5-year-old, Las Vegas-based company whose users video their belongings and are then given quotes from moving companies, has raised $3 million in Series A funding led by ff Venture Capital, with participation from Vegas Tech Fund and Quotidien Ventures, along with earlier investors.

OGSystems, a 10-year-old, Chantilly, Va.-based company that specializes in agile software development and systems engineering for the Department of Defense, the intelligence community, and commercial markets, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from General Catalyst Partners.

Otonomy, a 5.5-year-old, San Diego-based company that’s developing and commercializing treatments for diseases of the inner and middle ear, has raised $49 million from a line list of investors. Its new backers included Jennison Associates,Perceptive Advisors, the Federated Kaufmann FundsAlly Bridge Group, certain private funds advised by Clough Capital Partners, and other unnamed institutional investors. Earlier investors also participated, including OrbiMed AdvisorsNovo VenturesTPG BiotechAvalon VenturesDomain AssociatesRiverVest Venture PartnersAperture Venture Partners, and Osage University Partners. The company has raised  $144 million to date.

The RealReal, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based, online high-end consignment shop, is raising a big new round, according to an SEC filing that shows the company has raised $20.3 million as part of a $31 million round. The company had previously raised $21.5 million from investors, including Novel TMT VenturesCanaan Partners,Greycroft PartnersPanarea CapitalInterWest PartnersSukhinder Singh CassidySuzy Welch, and

Trippy, a three-year-old, Manhattan Beach, Ca.-based online question-and-answer platform that connects travelers, disclosed yesterday that it has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding in a round that closed last year. The funding was led by eVentures, which was joined by True Ventures and Sequoia Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Vhoto, a two-year-old, Seattle, Wa.-based company whose app uses algorithms, computer vision and machine learning to allow iPhone users to pull still shots from video, has also announced a $2.4 million dollar seed round from Atlas VenturePolaris Partners, and the company’s cofounder and chairman, Hugh Crean. (Crean, by the way, worked previously as an EIR at General Catalyst Partners and was earlier the CEO of Vhoto’s CEO, Noah Heller, was most recently an EIR at Atlas.)

ZeroFox, a year-old, Baltimore-based security startup that helps companies identify, manage and mitigate social media-based cyber threats, has raised $10.3 million in Series A funding led by New Enterprise Associates. Other participants in the round included Genacast VenturesCore Capital, and numerous angel investors from the security industry, including former Symantec CEO Enrique Salem.


New Funds

Benhamou Global Ventures, a Silicon Valley based early-stage venture capital firm founded by former 3Com CEO Eric Benhamou, is announcing the first close of its newest fund, BGV II LP, a vehicle that will be investing just less than $100 million in seed and early-stage companies that focus on everything from enterprise technology —  including security, cloud-based services, Web scale infrastructure, mobility — to Internet-connected devices. The firm has already made one investment from the new fund in Qubell, a two-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based “platform as a service” company. (GigaOm had written about Quebell here.)

Cisco Investments, the corporate venture capital arm of Cisco, announced yesterday that it will pour a fresh $150 million into funding early-stage companies, especially those focused on big data and analytics; the Internet of Things; connected mobility; storage; silicon; the content technology ecosystem; and India innovation. The new capital folllow’s Cisco’s previously announced $100 million commitment to startups focused on the Internet of things. The venture arm currently has stakes in more than 80 companies and 35 funds as part of a $2 billion portfolio.

Not new but a new development: Industry Ventures, the 14-year-old, San Francisco-based secondary shop, is assuming the daily management of Square 1 Venture 1, L.P., a 2008-vintage venture capital fund-of-funds. Square 1 is a Durham, N.C.-based specialty bank that provides loans and other services to venture firms and their portfolio companies. Square 1 suggested it was selling its portfolio to focus exclusively on that banking business.

Lerer Ventures looks to be raising a fourth, $50 million fund, judging by a new SEC filing. Interestingly, the fund is titled Lerer Hippeau Ventures IV, possibly signaling a branding change three years after Eric Hippeau, the former CEO of Huffington Post, joined the firm. (Before Huffington Post, which sold to AOL in 2011, Hippeau was a well-known venture capitalist with Softbank Capital.) Lerer closed its third fund with $36 million in 2012.

Lightstone Ventures, a two-year-old, early-stage life sciences firm launched by health-care investors from Morgenthaler and Advanced Technology Ventures, has closed its debut fund at $172 million, it’s announcing this morning. The team consists of Mike Carusi and Jean George of ATV (which won’t raise another fund), and Hank Plain and Chris Christofferson of Morgenthaler. Lightstone invests in early-stage biotechs and medical device makers, and has already backed three companies, including Catabasis, the Cambridge-based startup developing triglyceride-lowering and anti-inflammatory drugs. Lightstone has offices in Palo Alto, Boston, and Boulder. Xconomy has much more here.

Passport Capital of San Francisco looks to be raising some new capital, judging by an SEC filing that does not list a target. Passport is a multistrategy hedge fund that was founded by John Burbank in 2000 and invests in agriculture, basic materials, energy, financial services, health care, capital markets and the Internet, among other things. In March, for example, Passport and Blackrock led a $100 million round for the big data company Hortonworks at a valuation of more than $1 billion. Last month, Passport’s filed its first Form D of 2014, showing that the company recently raised $27.2 million from investors.


Box, the Los Altos, Ca.-based online storage company, may delay its eagerly awaited IPO until late May, according to Quartz’s sources, who cite market volatility as the driver. The offering is expected to raise as much as $250 million in the public markets. (Tweeted Box’s famously funny CEO Aaron Levie last night, in apparent frustration over the report: “‘Quiet periods are so much fun,’ said no one ever.”)


Check, a 6.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based whose app that helps users pay bills and monitor bank accounts and credit cards, is in talks with Intuit about being acquired for more than $350 million, according to WSJ sources. The outlet says the discussions are early and that a final agreement might not be reached for another week or two. Check has raised $47 million from investors, including Menlo VenturesMorgenthaler Ventures, and Pitango Venture Capital.

PlayFirst, a nearly 10-year-old, San Francisco-based mobile game developer, has been acquired by the 13-year-old, publicly traded game maker Glu Mobile for roughly $12 million in stock. PlayFirst had raised $37.7 million over the years, including from Trinity VenturesRustic Canyon PartnersDCM, and Mayfield Fund.


Fortune takes a look at 10 founding teams and the valuations of their pre-IPO companies — which have now reached into the multiple billions of dollars.

Lee Fixel, a 34-year-old Florida native who co-heads Tiger Global’s investments in closely held companies, is making more bets on early-stage companies, signaling to many that valuations of later-stage Silicon Valley companies have gotten too frothy even for Tiger. In fact, reports Bloomberg, Fixel may “may turn to investing more internationally,” say its sources,  who “asked not to be identified because the information is private.” (Shhhhh.) All told, Tiger Global has made 84 investments in 70 privately held companies since 2006, the year Fixel joined the firm, says Bloomberg. 
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer appears to be grossly overpaid thanks to Yahoo’s lucrative stake in Alibaba. But here’s something: Since Mayer’s appointment in 2012, outbound applications by Yahoo employees to smaller tech startups have dropped by 44 percent, according to data from recruiting software provider Jobvite. 

Boris Wertz, a Vancouver-based VC who runs the early-stage fund Version One Ventures, will be working more closely with Andreessen Horowitz in a official capacity as a “board partner.” Wertz, says the firm in a blog post, will “continue doing what he does best, scouting out great people and companies for his own fund, but when it makes sense he’ll also bring a16z into the equation, as well as representing a16z on the boards of select startups.”


Coming up in New York on June 4, the LDV Vision Summit, (which could be a good place to look at some new imaging and video startups). You can see the agenda and speakers here.

Coming up even sooner in New York: TechCrunch Disrupt, which kicks off on Monday. Details are here.

And a quick reminder that the NVCA’s VentureScape conference takes place in San Francisco May 13 and 14. Click here for more details.

Jobs< Cambridge Associates is looking for a research associate in the Bay Area.

Codeacademy, the buzzed-about online educational startup, is looking for a junior business development person to add to its team in New York.

Essential Reads

At Facebook’s F8 conference yesterday, Facebook came off a lot like a middle-aged man, notes Valleywag.

Google Glass currently carries a $1,500 price tag, but the components packed tightly inside the device may cost the Internet giant less than $80, the WSJ reports.

Snapchat is adding emphemeral texting and video chats to its product, reports the Verge.

Wired on one startup’s struggle to survive in the Silicon Valley gold rush. “Nick was making ends meet by Air­bnb-ing out his apartment a couple of blocks from their office and commuting an hour each way from his girlfriend’s place in Petaluma. Chris was leaning hard on his indefatigable wife. For this they had upended pleasant lives, and they could no longer quite remember why.”


“Without urgent action, we are heading for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries can once again kill,” says a new report from the World Health Organization.

America’s 10 richest universities, and the countries whose GDPs they match.

Gawker columnist A Dog reviews Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century.”

Tiny hamsters eating burritos.


Retail Therapy

We are amazed. A 3D printing pen that will let you draw in the air.

Cool trailer.

Eat your heart out, Roman Abramovich. Your yacht looks like a trailer park dumpster next to this baby.

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