StrictlyVC: June 9, 2014

Good morning, everyone, hope your Wednesday is off to a fine start!

No top story today — apologies — but we’ll have some good stuff for you in coming days, including a look tomorrow at a new venture firm that’s among the more innovative we’ve seen. (Btw, you can click here for the email version of today’s email.)


Top News in the A.M.

The Senate Intelligence Committee advanced a cybersecurity bill yesterday that would grant legal immunity for companies to share computer threat data with the government; civil liberties advocates say it fails to adequately shield Americans’ privacy.

Time for companies to shed far more light on their data gathering, argues writer-investor Om Malik.

In today’s Potato Salad Watch: Zack Brown of Columbus, Oh., has now raised $56,900 on Kickstarter for potato salad that he plans to make for his more than 4,763 contributors. Brown states very clearly in the “risks and challenges” section of his Kickstarter page that, “It might not be that good. It’s my first potato salad.” But with 24 days of his campaign left, the money keeps pouring in.


New Fundings

Amino, a three-year-old, Boston-based company that has created a mobile-only platform for niche communities (like pet and book lovers), has raised $1.65 million in seed funding led by Union Square Ventures. Other participants in the round included Google VenturesSV AngelBox GroupKal Vepuri and Slow Ventures. BostInno has more here.

Busbud, a 2.5-year-old, Montreal-based company whose app and website help users discover online places where they can book last-minute travel by bus, has raised $9 million in new funding led by Revolution Ventures and OMERS Ventures. Previous investors iNovia Capital and Real Ventures also participated in the round, which brings Busbud’s total funding to $10.2 million.

Credit Benchmark, a year-old, London-based company that aims to improve financial market benchmarks by aggregating anonymized credit risk data from multiple banks, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Index Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Duetto, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that makes software to help hotels optimize costs, has raised $21 million in new fund led by Accel Partners. Earlier investors Battery VenturesAltimeter Capital, Thayer Lodging CEO Leland Pillsbury, and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, also participated in the round, which brings the company’s funding to roughly $33 million.

GetYou, a nine-month-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based company whose app helps people see how well other people “get” them, has raised $1.1 million in seed funding, including from the venture firm RDSeed and angel investors, including Wix co-founder Avishai Abrahami.

Grabhouse, a 16-month-old, Mumbai, India-based startup that helps people find roommates and apartments for rent, has raised $500,000 from earlier investor India Quotientsays VCCircle.

Healthcare Interactive, an eight-year-old, Glenwood, Md.-based company whose platform collects and manages data, processes benefit plans, and helps it healthcare customer engage with customers online, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Grotech Ventures and Harbert Venture Partners. InTheCapital has more here.

Jianshu, (meaning “simple book”), a new, China-based writing and blogging platform that’s been compared to Medium, has raised $806,000 in seed funding from undisclosed angel investors, says TechInAsia, which has much more here.

Linio, a two-year-old, Durango, Mexico-based Amazon-like e-commerce marketplace that was originally incubated by Rocket Internet, the Berlin-based company, has raised $79 million in fresh funding led by new investors Northgate Capital and Access Industries. The company says the financing will be used to expand its footprint to other large Latin American markets like Chile and beyond. The company has already raised $175 million to date, shows Crunchbase. TechCrunch has more here.

Pokkt, a two-year-old, Mumbai-based alternative mobile payment platform that helps app developers and publishers monetize their users through advertising, has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding led by Jafco Asiaand SingTel Innov8, with participation from earlier investors, including Jungle Ventures and serial entrepreneur K Ganesh. Pokkt had previously raised $500,000, says VCCircle.

RetailNext, a 6.5-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based company whose software helps retailers and manufacturers analyze and visualize data about in-store customer engagement, has raised $30 million in growth funding led by Nokia Growth Partners. Other participants in the round included Qualcomm VenturesTycoAmerican ExpressActivant Capital Group and earlier investors August CapitalStarVest Partners and Commerce Ventures. The company has now raised $59 million to date.

Spring, a year-old, New York-based company that was founded by investor David Tisch and his brother Alan (who is CEO), has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding led by Thrive CapitalGroupe Arnault, and Box Group, with a long list of other venture capital firms and individual investors participating. TechCrunch has more here. Spring is still operating in stealth mode, but TechCrunch suggests it could be fashion retail play given that its many backers include Uri Minkoff CEO Rebecca Minkoff, Proenza Schouler CEO Shirley Cook, and “Project Runway” producer Desiree Gruber.

Universal Education Group, a seven-year-old, Beijing-based Chinese company that trains students for their postgraduate entrance exams, civil servant recruitment examinations, and more, has raised “tens of millions” of dollars in Series C funding from search engine giant Baidureports China Money Network. The company had previously raised $40 million over two rounds, says the outlet, including from Sequoia CapitalLegend CapitalDCM, and the Singaporean private equity group F&H Fund Management.

Vizury, a 5.5-year-old, Seoul, Korea-based digital marketing company that focuses on the online travel industry, has raised $16 million in Series C funding led by Intel CapitalAscent Capital also participated in the round, along with earlier investors Nokia Growth Partners and Inventus Capital Partners.

Webydo, a 3.5-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based SaaS platform that helps designers create and manage cross-platform business websites without writing code, has raised $7 million in funding led by OurCrowd. A Magna Ventures affiliate from Spain and private investors also participated in the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $8.4 million, shows Crunchbase.

Zynstra, a 2.5-year-old, Bath, England-based company that offers remotely managed, enterprise-level IT on a pay-as-you-go basis to small- to medium-size businesses, has raised $8.4 million in Series B funding led by earlier investor Octopus Investments. Numerous individual investors who’d previously invested in the company also participated in the round, which brings its total funding to $14.8 million.


New Funds

Columbia Capital, the 25-year-old, Alexandria, Va.-based venture capital firm, is looking to raise a new, $425 million fund according to SEC filings turned up by the Washington Business Journal. Columbia, co-founded by Mark Warner (now Virginia’s senior U.S. senator), specializes in enterprise IT, infrastructure, wireless spectrum and other complex technology bets. The firm is currently investing out of its fifth, $441 million, fund.

Greylock IL, the eight-year-old, international affiliate of U.S. venture capital firm Greylock Partners, is planning to spin off and rebrand as an independent entity, reports Fortune’s Dan Primack. To date, Greylock IL has raised $360 million for a pair of funds, the economics of which have been shared across Greylock Partners. Going forward, that won’t be the case, says Primack.

Ziegler Companies, whose investment banking operations focus on senior-citizens’ health care, is teaming up with Link-Age Ventures, an organization launched by nonprofit senior-living centers, to create a new investing venture, reports VentureWire. The two plan to invest $26.6 million together across 10 to 12 startups.



As the Alibaba IPO approaches, the company’s structure, known as a variable interest entity, is raising some concerns among possible IPO investors.

Sage Therapeutics, a four-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based biopharmaceutical company that’s developing a drug for a life-threatening seizure condition, has updated its S-1, reflecting its plans to price its shares at between $14 and $16 apiece. Sage, which has already raised at least $93 million from private investors, would collect $60 million from public market investors at the midpoint of that range, and its market cap would be roughly $360 million. The company’s biggest shareholders include Third Rock Ventures, which owns 58.5 percent of the company; ARCH Venture Partners, which owns 21.3 percent; and Fidelity Investments, which owns 5.6 percent.



Perceptis, a 10-year-old, Greenville, S.C.-based company that provides IT and help-desk services to higher ed institutions, has been acquired for an undisclosed amount by Blackboard, a portfolio company of Providence Equity Partners. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. Perceptis had raised at least $7.5 million from investors, including Frontier Capital.

RakNet, a Costa Mesa, Ca.-based company behind a game networking engine, has been acquired by Oculus VR for an undisclosed amount. Oculus VR, which acquired Carbon Design Group just a few weeks ago, was acquired by Facebook in March for $2 billion. Bloomberg has morehere.

TwinStrata, a seven-year-old, Natick, Ma.-based maker of cloud gateway appliances, has been acquired by EMC Corp. for an undisclosed amount. TwinStrata had raised $19.4 million over the years, shows Crunchbase. Avalon Ventures is among its backers.



Michael Balmuth just joined SV Life Sciences to direct its health-care information technology investments. Balmuth was previously a general partner at Edison Ventures. Balmuth has also logged time as a general partner at Summit Partners, as an investment banker with Broadview International, and at IBM.

Billionaire investor Mark Cuban talked parenting yesterday with the Huffington Post. The questions included, “From the worlds of both sports and business, what lessons do you try to teach your kids?” Cuban’s answer: “That you have to be a good teammate. That you get out of life what you put in it. That you are responsible for yourself.”

Urban Airship CEO Scott Kveton announced yesterday that he was taking an “extended leave of absence” from the company following news that police are investigating a long string of sexual assault accusations from Kveton’s former girlfriend. (The Oregonion actually crafted a timeline to simplify things for readers.) Urban Airship, a startup that makes mobile relationship management software helps brands push messages to users, has raised nearly $50 million from investors in its five-year history. The Oregonian describes it as one of Portland’s “leading tech companies.” Kveton told employees that the company has hired a search firm to look for his successor.


Job Listings

GE Capital is looking to hire a vice president. The job is in Norwalk, Ct.



LPs heart venture again, looks like. According to data out this morning from the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters, U.S. venture capital firms raised $7.4 billion in new commitments across 78 funds in the second quarter. That’s 42 percent more funds than closed in the second quarter of last year and marks the strongest quarter for VC fundraising, based on fund number, since the fourth quarter of 2007. You can check out more fundraising stats here.


Essential Reads

Bloomberg looks at the highly rewarding life of the Silicon Valley intern.

Catalonia to Airbnb: No vacancies.



The New Yorker is making all the articles it has published since 2007 free online for three months.

The world’s fastest hot tub.


Retail Therapy

Batman, the complete series, remastered in HD and coming to Blu-ray.

Depressing circumstances candles.

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Retail Therapy

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