StrictlyVC: June 27, 2014

Good morning! Hope you have a stellar weekend, everyone.


Top News in the A.M.

Aereo investor Barry Diller: “It’s over now.”

Facebook: We’ve been fighting bulk search warrants in court.


My Best Friend, Google

In yesterday’s New York Times, columnist Farhad Manjoo wrote, “One way to think of Google is as an extremely helpful, all-knowing, hyper-intelligent executive assistant.”

And it’s only getting smarter. As Sundar Pichai, top banana at Google’s Android division, tells Manjoo of the near future: “If I go and pick up my kids, it will be good for my car to be aware that my kids have entered the car and change the music to something that’s appropriate for them.”

It’s an exciting prospect, though I must admit that so much connectedness raises some questions, such as which song from “Frozen” Android will choose: “Let it Go” or “For the First Time in Forever”? What if just one kid wants to hear “In Summer”?

If a fight breaks out in the back seat, I hope Android will turn up the volume so I don’t have to listen to my children screaming and punching each other.

Here’s another thing: I am generally a good, straightforward person, but occasionally, when my husband thinks that I’m working tirelessly in our home office, I’m really downtown shopping at Neiman Marcus. If our Dropcam or Nest thermostat alerts Google to the fact that I’m away, and the GPS in my phone provides the rest of the clues as to my whereabouts, I wonder about some of the implications. For instance, could Google maybe send me a discount code while I’m at the store? That would be terrific.

Google cofounder and CEO Larry Page tells Manjoo that people get “so worried about these things” like Google’s tracking us and profiting from our every move online and off that we could miss out on the “benefits” of this new “context aware” world over which Google suddenly looks to have iron-clad control.

But with Page and Google cofounder Sergey Brin at the helm of this “single, hyperaware computing system,” what’s to worry about?

The fact is I am done wasting time, changing the music in my car to suit a couple of little tyrants who happen to belong to me. I have more important things to do, and Google knows it, because it has already scanned this content of this email.


New Fundings

Chloe & Isabel, the 3.5-year-old, New York-based jewelry company that connects its customers through their own social selling experience, has raised $15 million in fresh funding led by Softbank Capital, at a valuation of more than $100 million, reports VentureWire. The company had previously raised $17.5 million from investors, including General Catalyst PartnersFirst Round CapitalFelicis VenturesFloodgate and individuals Ashton KutcherMike DudaAndy DunnKirsten Green, and Ron Conway, among others, shows Crunchbase.

CrowdTwist, a five-year-old, New York-based company that sells loyalty and analytics software to marketers, has raised $9 million in Series B funding led by StarVest Partners, with investment from earlier backers, including Fairhaven Capital and SoftBank Capital. The company has raised $16.2 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

Distractify, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based new media startup that competes with the likes of Upworthy, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. Other participants in the round included Lerer Hippeau VenturesAdvancit Capital, and CAA.

Dune Medical Devices, a 12-year-old, Caesarea, Israel-based medical device company, has raised $14 million from undisclosed investors for its cancer detection devices in a tranche that is expected to reach $21 million. The company had previously raised roughly $50 million from investors, reports VentureWireApax Partners and Boston MedTech Advisors are among its earlier investors.

IgnitionOne, a 10-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based digital marketing technology company, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by SoftBank Capital. Earlier investors ABS Capital Partners and Brown Savano — a company that buys private company shares from founders and early investors — also participated in the round. The company has now raised roughly $68 million.

Performance Lab, an 11-year-old, Auckland, New Zealand-based maker and marketer of real-time exercise measurement analysis and virtual coaching software, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Intel Capital.

Plumgrid, a 2.5-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based network infrastructure software vendor that helps secure cloud networks for public and private clouds, has raised $16.2 million in Series B funding led by Longworth Venture PartnersU.S. Venture PartnersHummer Winblad Venture PartnersQualcomm Ventures and Swisscom Ventures also participated in the round, which brings Plumgrid’s total funding to $29 million.

Sport Ngin, a 5.5-year-old, Minneapolis, Mn.-based company that helps sports organizations build websites and mobile applications, has raised $25 million in Series D funding led by Piper Jaffray Merchant Banking and Causeway Media Partners, with participation from existing investor ICON Venture Partners. The company has raised $35.1 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Tastemade, a two-year-old, Santa Monica., Ca.-based food video network company, has raised $25 million in Series C funding led by Liberty Media and Food Network parent Scripps Network Interactive. The company has raised $40.3 million altogether, including from Comcast VenturesRedpoint Ventures, and Raine Ventures, shows Crunchbase.

Wickr, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based company that makes a self-destructing and encrypted messaging app of the same name, has raised $30 million in Series B funding led by Jim Breyer’s Breyer Capital, with participation from CME Group and Wargaming. The company has now raised $39 million altogether, all of it this year.


New Funds

500 Startups, the seed-stage firm, is embracing new federal rules for public fundraising, the first big-name organization to make use of the new rules. The firm plans to raise up to $100 million for its third fund, and it has partnered with the New York-based online investment platform Seedinvest to do it. The WSJ has more here.

First Round Capital, the eight-year-old, seed-stage investment firm with offices in Philadelphia and San Francisco, has closed a fifth fund of $175 million, up just slightly from its $160 million previous fund. The firm also announced that New York City-based partner Phin Barnes is relocating to San Francisco and that Wiley Cerilli, founder of former portfolio company SinglePlatform, is joining as a venture partner. The WSJ has more here.

MassMutual, founded in 1851 and one of the oldest businesses in Springfield, Ma., has committed $6.5 million to help out the region’s newest start-ups. has much more here.



Alibaba goes with the NYSE.

GoPro, the 10-year-old maker of high-definition video cameras, saw its shares soar 31 percent yesterday on their Nasdaq debut. The company now has a market value of $3.9 billion — nearly equal to that of Domino’s Pizza, notes the WSJ.



Expedia has agreed to acquire the European car-rental reservation company Auto Escape Group from Montefiore Investment and Auto Escape Group’s management. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Skift has the story here.

Submodal, a five-year-old, Laguna Beach, Ca.-based Web design and software development studio, has been acquired by Tustin, Ca.-based Mophie, maker of the popular mobile battery case. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.



Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen shares a surprising detail about his firm’s funds with Vox, telling the outlet: “We basically have a 15-year lockup on our money, which is longer than you used to do with private capital. One of the reasons why our funds are so much larger than venture capital funds used to be is because we have to have the firepower to finance companies through the point of time where we take them public.”

Bill and Melinda Gates deliver a moving address to Stanford University’s 2014 graduating class, telling the students, “Sometimes, it’s the people you can’t help who inspire you the most.”

Venture Capital Dispatch interviews billionaire doctor Patrick Soon-Shiong, who has launched and sold two biotech behemoths and now heads up Nantworks, a venture that combines artificial intelligence, semiconductors, cloud databases, a supercomputer, nano-optics and fiber-optic cable. Says Soon-Shiong, who invests heavily in publicly traded biotech stocks, “The evolving tools of science, and their promise, have never been as exciting as right now . . . It’s not a bubble.”

Former WSJ tech reporter Ben Worthen has quietly left venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, reports Fortune. Worthen, who joined the firm roughly a year ago as its head of content, is now editor-in-chief and content director of Ready State, a Silicon Valley-based marketing company. Fortune says he will be replaced at Sequoia.


Job Listings

StepStone Group in San Diego is looking for an associate to focus primarily on small market buyouts, venture capital and growth equity.



CB Insights takes a look at 347 venture-backed companies using Hadoop.


Essential Reads

Foursquare is about to start charging some businesses for access to its database of restaurants, shops and other venues, as it tries to wring revenue out of the information it has gathered over five years’ worth of “check-ins.”

A new piece of software from Carnegie Mellon University can automatically edit out the boring bits of video and allow you to watch just the interesting parts.

How India can keep startups from moving to Singapore.



Punk rock icon Bob Mould, playing guitar last week in Oakland, Ca.

How the Clintons went from “dead broke” to superrich.

Fast Company tried designing its own Iron Man suit. It wasn’t pretty.

The power of two.


Retail Therapy

Leave the hoi polloi in your dust this summer with Blade.


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