StrictlyVC: May 23, 2014

Good morning! Apparently, yesterday’s email was routed into some of your spam boxes. If you missed our interview with the savvy CEO of Ozon (Russia’s Amazon), here it is.

Also, apologies for not running a column this morning. Yesterday was busier than usual. StrictlyVC has also been steeling herself for an end-of-the-school-year field trip with hundreds of children today. (If the newsletter isn’t in your inbox on Tuesday, please send help.)

Wishing you a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!


Top News in the A.M.

Alibaba is considering making an investment in the advertising technology firm AppNexusaccording to The Information.

Google is closing in on a $1 billion deal for Skybox Imaging, a satellite company that specializes in recording very detailed landscape pictures and video, says TechCrunch.


New Fundings

Assurex Health, a 7.5-year-old, Mason, Oh.-based company whose tests help clinicians to determine the best drugs for patients with chronic medical conditions, has raised $32 million, including $7 million in equity fromCincyTechCincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Cincinnati-based Allos Ventures, and a $25 million loan from Silicon Valley Bank. The company has now raised $73.1 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

BitLit Media, a 1.5-year-old, Vancouver-based company whose app allows users to purchase an ebook of a print book they own, has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from BDC CapitalThree Angels Capital, a venture fund started by the founder of e-book company Kobo; and unnamed angel investors.

Brandwatch, a 6.5-year-old, Brighton, England-based social media analytics company, has raised $22 million in new funding led by Highland Capital Partners Europe. Earlier investor Nauta Capital also participated in the round, which brings Bandwatch’s total funding to $28 million.

Clariture Health, a nine-month-old, Nashville, Tn.-based health-care marketing service, has raised $1 million in seed funding from the Nashville investment firm The Martin Cos.

Dejero Labs, a 5.5-year-old, Kitchener, Ontario-based next-generation broadcast technology company, has raised $4.5 million from the Toronto-based investment firm Best Funds.

DoorDash, a year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based on-demand food-delivery startup with ambitions to evolve beyond food, has raised a $17.3 million Series A round led by Sequoia Capital. Earlier investors Khosla VenturesCharles River VenturesPejman Mar Ventures, and Ted Zagat also participated in the financing, which brings DoorDash’s total funding to $19.7 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Factorli, a new, Las Vegas-based hardware incubator that looks to rival Highway1 in its ambitions to become a go-to place for hardware startups needing help in launching, has raised $10 million in Series A funding from the Vegas Tech Fund and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. Factorli was founded by Jen McCabe, who has been running the day-to-day operations of the Vegas Tech Fund and who previously worked at the Hsieh-backed consumer robotics startup Romotive.

Fanatix, a 2.5-year-old, U.K.-based mobile-first sports social network, has raised $500,000 in new angel financing ahead of a planned Series A round of funding in the fourth quarter of this year reports Forbes. The company has so far raised $3.5 million altogether.

Filament Labs, a year-old, Austin, Tx.-based patient-engagement platform, has raised $1 million in seed funding led by Mercury Fund.

iRhythm Technologies, a 7.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that makes a lightweight heart monitor that can be worn continuously for weeks, has raised $17 million in Series E round funding led byNovo A/S. Earlier investor Norwest Venture Partners also participated in the funding, which brings the total capital raised by the company to roughly $122 million, shows Crunchbase.

Yoyo Holdings, a year-old, London-based company behind a mobile payment and customer-loyalty app, has raised $5 million in seed funding led by Imperial InnovationsFirestartr and a number of angel investors filled out the rest of the round.

Malauzai Software, a four-year-old, Austin, Tx.-based maker of mobile banking apps that are designed expressly for the customers of community financial institutions, has raised $6.48 million in Series C funding led by Wellington Management Company. Malauzai has raised $11.8 million altogether.

Nurix, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based company that develops small molecule inhibitors to treat degenerative diseases, has raised $25.1 million from earlier investors Column Group and Third Rock Ventures. The company has raised roughly $28 million to date.

Revolights, a 2.5-year-old, Emeryville, Ca.-bmaker of “smart” ring-shaped LEDs that attach to a bicycle’s wheels to lighten a rider’s path and make the bike more visible at night, has raised $1 million in Series A co-led bySierra Angels and Sacramento Angels. The round includes a $300,000 commitment that Revolights snagged from Robert Herjavec of Herjavec Group after appearing on the show “Shark Tank.”

Skyonic, a nine-year-old, Austin-based developer of carbon-capture technologies, has raised $12.5 million in funding from the energy deliver company Enbridge and previous backer ConocoPhilips. Skyonic has raised $187 million altogether to date, including from BP VenturesNorthwater CapitalEnergy Technology VenturesBlueCap Partners, and Cenovus Energy.

TheFamily, a year-old, Paris-based accelerator designed to support nascent technology companies, has raised $1 million from Index Venturesand angel investors.

TVTY, a 4.5-year-old, Paris-based company whose software tools help advertisers time their campaigns based on what’s happening on TV, has raised $4.5 million from Partech Ventures360 Capital Partners and business angels. The company has raised $6.8 million altogether.

Uber, the nearly five-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose mobile app makes it easy to connect with a driver for hire, is talking with investors about a round of roughly $500 million that could value the company at more than $12 billion, reports the WSJ. Possible investors, says the report, include BlackRockGeneral AtlanticTechnology Crossover Ventures, and hedge funds. Uber has so far raised roughly $300 million from investors.

Venus Concept, a 4.5-year-old, Toronto-based company that sells aesthetic medical devices for skin tightening and cellulite reduction, has raised $10 million from Longitude Capital.

Vive Unique, a 2.5-year-old, London-based booking site for handpicked home rentals around the world (it also handles insurance, property management, housekeeping, etc.) has raised roughly $5.9 million from Smedvig Capital.

WholeWorldBand, a 5.5-year-old company whose music platform and mobile app combines audio and video to create a virtual studio where musicians can connect and complete unfinished tracks, has raised $8.4 million in Series A funding led by Balderton Capital and International Investment & Underwriting (IIU).

Ximalaya, a 1.5-year-old, Shanghai-based podcast sharing service, has raised $11.5 million in Series A funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersSIG Asia Investment and Sierra Venturesreports TechNode.


New Fundings

Highland Capital Partners Europe has closed its debut fund, hitting its hard cap of 250 million euros. TechCrunch has all the details hereFergal Mullen, a veteran of Highland Capital Partners in the U.S., launched the European business in 2007.

Legend Capital, the 13-year-old, Beijing-based independent venture arm of the Chinese conglomerate Legend Holdings, has raised a new, $500 million fund in less than six months, reports VentureSource. Legend is part of a broader upswing in fundraising for China-based firms, notes the report, with China-based firms raising $1.07 billion in the first quarter — up 35 percent from the first quarter of 2013.

The Sapling Fund, a new, Columbus, Oh.-based early-stage venture firm, announced yesterday that it has launched a $50 million fund, led by two general partners (Abe Nixon and Jon Puz) and a venture advisor (Chris Payton), all of whom had previously cofounded an earlier business called Karma Capital, a separate investment and advisory firm. The firm says it intends to “leveraging relationships from Silicon Valley, to Harvard Business School, to Wall Street” to make smart investments in promising startups.


IPOs shares rose 10 percent in their debut yesterday after pricing the year’s third-largest U.S. initial public offering. The strong support indicates renewed interest in Internet stocks and China e-commerce firms in particular, suggests Investors Business Daily.



Get Maid, a two-year-old, New York-based home cleaning service, has been acquired by Homejoy, a nearly two-year-old, San Francisco-based home cleaning company. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, but in December, Homejoy had raised $38 million in Series B funding from Google VenturesRedpoint Ventures, and First Round Capital, among others. GetMaid had raised $500,000 through an accelerator and angel investors.

Springpad, a 5.5-year-old, Charlestown, Ma.-based company that makes a productivity app, is planning to close its doors, reports The Verge. The company, whose momentum was dwarfed by the success of break-out companies like Evernote, has raised more than $7 million from investors, including Fairhaven Capital Partners.



Ethan Beard, the former Facebook and Google executive, has joined the board of Parchment, an 11-year-old, Scottsdale, Az.-based company that digitally delivers transcripts and other academic credentials and has raised roughly $45 million from investors. Beard is currently an EIR at Greylock Partners (which is not a Parchment investor).

Venture capitalist Fred Destin talks with the WSJ about returning to London as Accel‘s newest partner — and how he plans to get up to speed on the scene. “The only way in which you prepare is to go meet tens or hundreds of people,” says Destin. “I’m planning to hit London and Berlin hard. That’s my strategy: Coffee shops and entrepreneurs.”

Charles Hudson, a partner at SoftTech VCtells Xconomy that things are a little different, now that SoftTech is managing an $85 million fund, up from its second, $55 million fund. ““We had companies in 2010 that come in our office, they need $500,000, they need a little bit more help on the prototype. It’s early. [In those days,] we probably would have written that check and supported that company. Now I tell them, what you really should do is get $500,000 in angel money, build that prototype, make some progress, and then come back to us when you’re looking to raise that $1.5 million to $2 million seed round.”

Norm Meritt has joined the New York City startup ShopKeep as co-CEO, according to the WSJJason Richelson, the company’s founder and CEO, said that after six years of running the company, which sells customer care and point-of-sales technology to retailers (so they can operate more like Apple stores), he needed help in scaling the company. Meritt comes to ShopKeep from iQor, a business process outsourcing services company that he joined in 2003 and where he was appointed CEO in 2012.

Naveen Selvadurai, who cofounded Foursquare and left in 2012 in what he has characterized as a “surprise” ouster, is joining Expa, the startup studio created by Uber and StumbleUpon founder Garrett Camp. Selvadurai will run the New York operations for the organization, which is cofounding companies and investing $500,000 and $1 million in each for a 20 percent stake. You can learn much more here.

Wen Tan, a partner at fund of funds FLAG Capital Management, says LPs’ views on Asia have changed noticeably over the last five years. “In the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis, Asia was seen as a bulwark against the broader global downturn. In reality, if you look at median Asia Pacific private equity returns over the past decade, total value to paid-in [capital] has generally been no better than the U.S. and Europe. A small subset of sophisticated limited partners is recognizing that one needs a relatively concentrated portfolio of outperformers rather than having a broad portfolio of ‘index’ private equity funds.”

In case you missed it, the Winklevoss twins have a new gig, as satellite radio hosts for what’s being characterizes as a “short-term” SiriusXM radio program titled, yes, “Winklevoss Radio.” Salon has more here. According to a blog post written by Cameron Winklevoss, the show will focus on high-tech and feature an long list of high-wattage guests, including Virgin Group’s Richard Branson, “Silicon Valley” creator Mike Judge, and Joe Lonsdale of Formation 8. The first show aired yesterday.


Job Listings

MHS Capital in San Francisco is looking for an associate. (Led by Mark Sugarman, the fund was nearing a final close on a $75 million fund as of a few weeks ago.)



Street Fight (Summit West). It’s coming.



With password security top of mind — especially after eBay’s warnings to users on Wednesday to change their passwords — Datafox decided to map out the enterprise password management landscape to find the providers it thinks will be around 20 years from now. (Click the graphic to enlarge.)

New numbers released by the firm Canalys earlier this week show Fitbit devices accounted for nearly 50 percent of the world’s 2.7 million wearable band shipments in the first quarter of 2014.


Essential Reads

The trouble with IBM.

Forget net neutrality; what about Amazon neutrality?



At the Fire Lab in Missoula, Montana, researchers are finding that fire is a mysterious phenomenon, and the physics behind it is often counterintuitive.

Is work your happy place?

A friendly reminder to wear sunscreen.


Retail Therapy

The Osmo gaming platform. It’ll make you feel like a slightly less terrible parent.


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