StrictlyVC: June 10, 2014

Hi, everyone, hope your Tuesday is off to a fine start.


Top News in the A.M.

Another Chinese military unit is hacking U.S. systems, reports the New York Times, citing a new report from the U.S. security technology group Crowdstrike.

—– Lands $11 Million in Fresh Funding thinks you want more control over how you’re perceived online, and a growing number of investors is betting it’s right. Indeed, the company — which invites users to create a digital landing page that can link to their Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram accounts — has just landed a fresh $11 million in funding led by Foundry Group, along with True Ventures, SoftTech VC, CrunchFund and Bullpen Capital.

It’s a strong vote of a confidence in a company that sold to AOL in late 2010 and whose cofounders, Tony Conrad and Ryan Freitas, helped buy it back last February for a fraction of what AOL paid. At the time, they said they believed could scale more quickly as an independent operation, and they made transforming the platform into something sticky — versus a place for users to “set it and forget it” — their top priority.

“We’d created tools for people to create [these online identity pages] but there weren’t engagement loops in the product,” says Conrad. “It wasn’t that that it wasn’t creating value for you, but it wasn’t creating value for us,” he adds, laughing.

Today, numerous new features that allow users to see who has viewed their profile, compliment other users’ pages, and discover other people on the platform with similar interests, are gaining traction with the company’s registered user base of 4.5 million users. (The company doesn’t break out monthly active users but Conrad calls them “incredibly healthy and growing.”)

Going forward, says Conrad, the company plans to do even more for some of its fastest-growing demographic groups, including college students.

“Kids don’t have that much experience, and a lot of them don’t look that great in a traditional CV or resume product,” says Conrad. “ ends up replicating what happens in the real world and helps them leverage their personality and their strengths, so that’s one group where we want to create some additional functionality.” Think of the ability to include a resume below the fold as you scroll down, “or a list of ‘here are six things I’ve done,’ ‘here’s my superpower,’ and ‘here’s who inspires me,’” he says.

As for revenue, that can wait, evidently. “Some of [the company’s new funding] will be used to test out different [paths] to revenue,” says Conrad. “Like Twitter tested out Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts, we’ll be busy putting stuff out there and testing it. But the focus of [the new round] isn’t on becoming cash flow positive,” he adds. previously raised $5.7 million.


New Fundings

Affirm, a year-old, San Francisco-based small business lending company that assesses borrowers’ risk — and determines rates of interest — using personal data, has raised $45 million from investors, including Khosla VenturesLightspeed Venture Partners and Nyca Partners. Serial entrepeneur Max Levchin is CEO, after hatching the idea from his incubator last year and deciding he was the best person to run the company. The WSJ has more on the company, which is the latest in a growing batch of new financial startups that think they can beat traditional lenders at their own game. (StrictlyVC featured another, Earneston Friday.)

Bindo, a 3.5-year-old New York-based retail company whose cloud-based iPad checkout system and tools promise to help merchants better manage their inventory and relationships, has raised $1.8 million in seed funding,reports the WSJ. The round was co-led by Gary VaynerchukMetamorphic Ventures, and the venture firm East Ventures, which has offices in Singapore and Tokyo. Bindo plans to use the funding to expand into Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.

Dwellable, a two-year-old, Seattle-based mobile app for vacation rentals, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Version One Ventures and Maveron. Additional participants in the round include former HomeAway board director Rob Solomon, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman, Farecast founder Oren Etzioni, and other individual investors in Seattle and Silicon Valley.

FilterBoxx Water & Environmental Corp., a 13-year-old, Calgary, Alberta company that makes packaged potable water and wastewater treatment systems, has raised $14.7 million in new funding led by an unnamed Swiss family office and earlier investors XPV Capital and EnerTech Capital. The company has raised at least $23.7 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Handshakez, a two-year-old, Austin-based company that makes a collaboration and analytics platform for sales departments, says it has raised $1 million in Series B funding, though isn’t disclosing from where the backing comes. The company previously raised $3.6 million in Series A funding from Austin VenturesFirst Round CapitalFloodgate,CrunchFundValhalla Partners and Thinktiv.

Move Loot, a year-old, San Francisco-based site for buying and selling used furniture, has raised $2.8 million in seed funding co-led by Index Ventures and First Round Capital. Other participants included Google VenturesSV Angel and Y Combinator. The company has raised $5.3 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

NantHealth, a 6.5-year-old, Culver City, Ca.-based company focused on delivering next-generation care, has raised $25 million from the publicly traded drugmaker Celgene Corp., the company announced. In April, Nanthealth became minority owned by BlackBerry, which said it planned to collaborate with NantHealth on a new smartphone aimed at the health-care industry. NantHealth is run by billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, who sold his cancer-treatment company Abraxis BioScience to Celgene in 2010.

Paper Battery, a six-year-old, Troy, N.Y.-based maker of energy storage technology for consumer electronics and other applications, has raised $3 million in Series A funding led by Caerus Ventures. The company has raised $4 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Seres Health, a nearly three-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based company whose lead drug is aimed at preventing deadly Clostridium difficile infections, has raised $10 million in Series B funding. Founded out of Flagship Ventures and its VentureLabs program, the new funding comes from Flagship, as well as Enso VenturesAlexandria Venture Investments, and Mayo Clinic.

TransferWise, a four-year-old, London-based peer-to-peer money transfer service, has raised $25 million in new funding from Sir Richard Branson, along with earlier investors, including Valar VenturesIA VenturesIndex VenturesThe Accelerator Group, and Kima Ventures. The company has raised $33 million altogether, notes TechCrunch.

Washio, a year-old, L.A.-based on-demand laundry service, has raised $10.5 million in Series A funding led by Canaan Partners to fuel its plans to expand into more U.S. cities. Washio had previously raised $2.8 million in seed funding from Sherpa Ventures, Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures,Three Six Zero GroupAshton KutcherGuy OsearyRon BurkleNas,Anthony SalehLarry RudolphJay BrownZod NazemTroy Carter,Scooter BraunYael CohenTom Ryan and Frank Cooper.



Ambrx, an 11-year-old, La Jolla, Ca.-based biotech developing protein therapeutics to deliver large molecule drugs, yesterday disclosed plans to raise $70 million in an IPO by offering 5.4 million shares at a price range of $12 to $14.

Ardelyx, a seven-year-old, Fremont, Ca.-based biotech company that’s developing small molecule treatments for kidney and gastrointestinal diseases, yesterday disclosed plans to raise $50 million in an IPO by offering 3.6 million shares at a price range of $13 to $15.

GoDaddy, the 17-year-old, Scottsdale, Az.-based domain name registration company, filed to go public yesterday, roughly two-and-a-half years after it was bought by an investor syndicate that included Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Silver Lake. GoDaddy previously sought to go public in 2006, but a deal never materialized at that time. Dealbook has more here.



EdgeRank Checker, a three-year-old, Chicago Heights, Il.-based company whose free tool helps Facebook marketers check their page’s exposure within Facebook, has been acquired by Socialbakers, a Prague-based, venture-backed social media analytics company. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.

Timbre, a two-year-old, Boston-based company whose location-based app enables users to search and purchase tickets for live shows, has been acquired by the U.K.-based ticket reseller Seatwave. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. Timbre, reports TechCrunch, had raised roughly $720,000 from investors, including Atlas VentureBoston Seed Capital, and Bantam Group.

Way to rub salt in the wound, Time WarnerAccording to Sky News, the digital media juggernaut Vice Media is in talks to sell a major stake in itself to Time Warner, which just pushed Time Inc., a pure publishing company, out of the building. (Time Inc., which went public yesterday as an independent entity, ended the day down .77 percent.) Sources tell Sky News that talks between Time Warner and Vice are at an advanced stage but that some final details have yet to be worked out.



Inside Steve Ballmer‘s tenure as the head of Microsoft.

Ana Braskamp, the head of public relations at the beleaguered, still-stealth payments company Clinkle, is off to Yahoo just a week after Clinkle’s VP of talent, Allison Hopkins, left, reports Fortune. The company says it will rely on “external resources” when it eventually launches. Valleywag — always quick to find the silver lining — notes that not having a PR person is “one way to staunch the flow of disastrous news from your disastrous startup.”

Fight! Fight! Bloomberg‘s tech conference in Sausalito yesterday turned into a bizarre showdown, with one investor, a red-faced Ron Conway, shouting at another — Chamath Palihapitiya — over who is (and isn’t) doing enough about inequality in San Francisco. Watch here.

A couple of years ago, Divesh Makan, a former wealth manager at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, decided to compete with his old employers by starting Iconiq Capital. Yet even the new kid in town is seeing defections as the competition for tech clients stiffens, reports the New York Times. Among those clients to reportedly pull out some of their assets from Iconiq and shift them elsewhere: Zynga cofounder Mark Pincus and Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes.

Paypal president David Marcus is becoming the head of Facebook‘s messaging products, reports Re/code. Marcus had joined PayPal three years ago when he sold his payments startup Zong to the company.

Lou Tartaglia has left Third Rock Ventures, where he spent seven years as a partner, to become CEO of the biotechnology startup Solstice Biologics. Xconomy has more here.


Job Listings

The Nielsen Company is looking for a corporate development associate in New York to help identify and execute on M&A opportunities.


Essential Reads

Apple has cut off a way to secretly track shoppers.

L.A.’s tech scene is having a moment.



Diary of a Coors Light mountaineer.

The Bay Bridge’s troubled China connection.

We call this one, “Waiting on the IPO.”


Retail Therapy

Robots that teach kids to code.

Fryers that don’t fry.

Celebrity mugshots.



Yesterday, in “Data,” we pointed you to some interesting mobile commerce research conducted by Trinity Ventures; unfortunately, the link we’d used was later removed. If you’re interested in the firm’s research, here’s a new link to the piece, posted by TechCrunch.


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