StrictlyVC: June 24, 2014

Hi, happy Tuesday morning, everyone!


Top News in the A.M.

Google‘s Nest Labs is opening its platform to outside developers for the first time. It’s also sharing user information with Google for the first time, allowing Google to know when Nest users are at home or not.


Relationship Science Trains Its Sights on the Venture Industry

In February of last year, a New York-based company called Relationship Science pulled back the curtains from an online platform it has been developing since 2010, one that now features 3.5 million profiles of the world’s “decision-makers,” all of them mapped out to illustrate how they’re connected to one another and everyone else.

Characterized as a “Rolodex for the 1 percent” by Dealbook, it’s not a directory that one is asked to join. Power players can’t remove themselves, either. Everything that Relationship Science uses is public data – some scraped from the Web, some from third-party data providers, and some turned up by some of its 500 employees in Indian and New York, who pore over SEC documents, campaign finance databases, annual reports and the like to create a graphical view of each individual and his or her “strong” to “weak” links to others.

The big idea is to help businesses and nonprofits recruit, strike deals, raise money and sell stuff by arming them with more information about how to get to particular people. And nearly 450 clients – many on Wall Street – have bought into the vision, paying Relationship Science between $9,000 and “upward of six figures” a year for its competitive intelligence. Now, the company is looking to pull others into the fold, from political campaigns to sports franchises to more VCs, the company’s chief marketing officer, Josh Mait, told me yesterday.

Relationship Science has already raised $90 million from investors, including billionaires Henry Kravis, Ken Langone, and Ron Perelman. Are you in the market again or will you be in the foreseeable future?

I don’t have a crystal ball. I think we’ve raised a decent amount of money and that it’s given us the ability to build a sophisticated asset that can now be extended in a number of ways.

The company doesn’t provide users with phone numbers or email addresses or a way to message anyone else on the platform, putting the onus on users to find creative ways to contact the people they research. Will that ever change?

We don’t have contact information because we’d have a big fat spam machine otherwise. We made a purposeful decision to provide instead deep dossiers on people and companies and to let our clients – who are pretty sophisticated businesspeople – figure out how to act on it.

What are some of the platform’s most-used features?

One, called Pathfinder, allows you to run paths between any entity to any entity. Say I’m a partner at a VC firm, looking at a company and trying to reach potential investors. I might make a list of all my board members, which would provide me with more axis points to find relationships. Our search capabilities also help clients to do smart prospecting. If you want to hire someone with a particular criteria, it might turn up 15,000 individuals, but we can help you find people in that grouping who are just one degree [of separation] away from you. And we have news and alerts on the people most important to you, which isn’t always a news item in a publication but can be when someone sells a stock or makes a donation to a cause.

Are you capturing people’s outside interests? I’d think that would be useful.

We’re able to capture some interests and affiliations. I wouldn’t want to exaggerate it , though. It’s hard data to capture other than sporadically. We do allow clients to put in their own information, and when they come across someone’s profile, we’ll surface any commonalities they have with that person.

VCs already have other options. Many might also argue that it’s not rocket science, figuring out who is connected to whom in the startup industry. It’s not nearly so big or opaque as Wall Street.

I think you’re right about that perception. But I’d argue that any firm that’s looking for a competitive advantage should have a good handle on what their strongest relationships are — especially during critical moments when you want any edge you can get.


New Fundings

Bigtree Entertainment, a 15-year-old, India-based company that owns the online entertainment ticketing property BookMyShow, has raised $25 million from new investor SAIF Partners. Earlier investors Accel Partners and Network18 also participated in the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $43 million, according to Crunchbase.

Cargomatic, a 1.5-year-old, Venice, Ca.-based company that connects available truck drivers with companies needing to move freight (it calls itself the “Uber of trucking”), has raised $2.6 million led by Morado VenturesSV Angel, and Sherpa Venturesreports Venture Capital DispatchWinklevoss CapitalAcequia CapitalStructure Capital and several angel investors also participated in the round.

CloudPhysics, a three-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based SaaS-based data management platform that helps corporate data centers run smoothly, has raised $15 million in Series C funding led by Jafco Ventures. Earlier investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Mayfield Fund also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $27.5 million.

Definiens, a 20-year-old, Munich, Germany-based pathology image-analysis company, has raised $20 million in new funding led by Wellington Partners. Earlier investors Gilde Healthcare PartnersCipio Partners, and TVM Capital also joined the round. The company has raised at least $33.3 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Grand Rounds, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that provides medical second opinions online, has raised $40 million in Series B funding led by Greylock Partners. Earlier investors Venrock and Harrison Metal also participated in the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $51 million. Re/code has more on the company here., a two-year-old, Mumbai, India-based online real estate portal that helps people rent and buy homes, has raised $19 million in its fourth round of funding, from Helion Venture PartnersNexus Venture Partners, and Qualcomm Ventures. It isn’t immediately clear how much the company has raised to date. (Sorry.)

LIFX, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based company making a Wi-Fi enabled, multi-color LED light bulb, has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital. The company had also raised $1.3 million via a Kickstarter campaign in 2012.

OwnerIQ, an eight-year-old, Boston, Ma.-based company that provides real-time media buying services to advertisers, has raised $11 million in funding led by existing investors in a round that was closed over two tranches, beginning in April. The company, which looks to have raised roughly $40 million to date, counts Kepha PartnersLongworth Venture PartnersEgan-Managed CapitalCommonAngelsMassachusetts Technology Development Corporation, and Atlas Venture among its backers.

Passare, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that’s “simplifying end-of-life management” through an online portal where family and friends of the deceased can make funeral and travel arrangements, create online memorials and invite guests, has raised $6 million from a group of funeral homes, angel investors and the Abilene, Tx.-based insurance company Funeral Directors Life Insurance Company. The WSJ has the story.

Patreon, a year-old, San Francisco-based subscription platform that enables fans and sponsors to support artists and creators, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Index Ventures, with participation from Alexis OhanianSam AltmanDavid MarcusJoshua Reeves and numerous other individual investors. TechCrunch has much more here.

Phunware, a five-year-old, Austin-based company focused on creating mobile experiences for brands, including through mobile software development, has raised $30.7 million in Series E funding led by Firsthand Technology Value Fund. Other investors in the round included Fraser McCombs VenturesMaxima VenturesWild Basin Investment, the Central Texas Angel NetworkCisco SystemsWorld Wrestling Entertainment, and Samsung Ventures. The company has now raised $48.3 million to date.

RelayRides, a 5.5-year-old, San Francisco-based peer-to-peer car sharing marketplace that now focuses only on providing long-term (day-long, at least) rentals, has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by Canaan Partners. Earlier investors August CapitalGoogle Ventures and Shasta Ventures also participated in the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $44 million.

Soundhawk, a 2.5-year-old, Cupertino, Ca.-based company that makes a “smart listening” system that looks like a Bluetooth headset to help people hear what they’re listening for in noisy environments, has raised $5.5 million in funding from tech manufacturing giant Foxconn Group. The WSJ has much more on the company here. Soundhawk had previously raised $5.7 million from True Ventures.

Transifex, a 4.5-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca., and Athens, Greece-based startup that helps developers translate sites and apps into multiple languages quickly and inexpensively (comparatively), has raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by New Enterprise Associates. Other participants in the round included Toba CapitalArafura Ventures, and several individual angel investors. More here.

White Ops, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based company focused on online fraud detection (it says it isolates and eliminates bot-infected traffic), has raised $7 million in funding from new investors Paladin Capital Group and Grotech Ventures.



Intersect ENT, an 11-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca., company that makes drug-eluting, self-expanding implants for use in surgery on patients with chronic sinusitis, has filed for an IPO. The company has raised at least $80 million over the years, shows Crunchbase. Its largest shareholders include U.S. Venture Partners, which owns 22.7 percent of the company; Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which owns 20.3 percent; PTV Sciences, which owns 14.7 percent; Norwest Venture Partners, which owns 12.8 percent; and Medtronic, which owns 6.8 percent.



99dresses, a four-year-old, New York-based platform whose app helped connect people wanting to buy and sell used clothing, is closing, according to its cofounder and CEO, Nikki Durki. The company, a Y Combinator alum, had raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Draper AssociatesPersefon Ventures, and Fenox Venture Capital. Durki has written about her experience in shutting down the business on Medium, in a post titled, “My Startup Failed, and This is What It Feels Like.”

A Little Market, a 5.5-year-old, Paris-based online marketplace for handmade items, has been acquired by its bigger U.S. peer Etsy for an undisclosed amount of money, reports TechCrunch. Etsy says the company is its “sixth and largest acquisition to date.” A Little Market will continue to operate independently. Etsy has raised $97.3 million in funding from Accel PartnersUnion Square VenturesIndex Ventures and other investors.



The Breakthrough Prize Foundation, funded by a group of high-profile Silicon Valley luminaries, including Mark Zuckerberg and Yuri Milner, has named five winners of its first mathematics prize. Re/code has the list here.

Shawn Atkinson, an attorney in the venture capital practice of the international law firm Edwards Wildman Palmer, is leaving to join Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Edwards Palmer has reportedly struggled to grow its business in recent years. Cooley is also reportedly among those firms looking to pick up the pieces; according to the Global Legal Post, the firm is interested in recruiting senior lawyers from Edwards Wildman in order to launch a London office.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is somewhat famous for keeping people waiting. Still, as the WSJ reports, appearing two hours late last week for a private dinner in Cannes that was organized expressly for Mayer and ad execs from major companies, including Chobani, MillerCoors, and Mondelez International, was an especially bad move. At least one CEO left before Mayer arrived. Another executive at the dinner tells the WSJ: “It is another instance where she demonstrated that she doesn’t understand the value of clients, ad revenue or agencies.” (VC Hunter Walk, who worked with Mayer for numerous years at Google, tweeted in response to the story, “Hey ad exec who leaked the Marissa story. At least have guts to go on record w WSJ if you’re gonna throw mud.”)


Job Listings

Tamr, a Cambridge, Ma.-based company that announced $16 million in funding last month from Google Ventures and NEA, has just opened a San Francisco office and is looking for business development pros, among other things. (Sorry we don’t have a better link for you; we’re told you should just email the company.)


Essential Reads

Is time spent a better metric than pageviews? Upworthy says it is, and it’s opening up its code for “attention minutes” to anyone who wants to use it.

Why Twitter and Facebook ads aren’t effective.

A recent study out of HBS finds that venture capitalists have a strong tendency to team up with other VCs whose ethnic and educational backgrounds are similar to their own – a tendency that’s lousy for business.



From Wired: A summer binge-watching guide to “Arrested Development.”

The most-connected New Yorkers.

“Star Wars,” recut into a modern trailer.

No, no, no, no.


Retail Therapy

James Nestor’s “Deep,” for the beach.

The Alen 68 yacht, for the water.


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