StrictlyVC: July 15, 2014

Happy Tuesday, all! 


Top News in the A.M.

Microsoft is planning its biggest round of job cuts in five years, Bloomberg is reporting this morning.


BetterDoctor Raises $10 million, Led by NEA

ZocDoc, a seven-year-old online service that helps users find and book appointments with doctors who accept their insurance, is raising a new, $152 million round of funding that values the company at $1.6 billion.

That kind of momentum might dissuade some competitors, but not Ari Tulla, the founder of BetterDoctor, whose Web and mobile apps also help users locate the most appropriate doctors for them. Before founding BetterDoctor three years ago, Tulla spent five years at the phone giant Nokia, including as the head of its app studio; he has seen first-hand what determined competitors can do — especially when there’s an enormous market up for grabs. (According to Tulla, 70 million people in the U.S. alone seek out new physicians each year.)

We talked yesterday with Tulla about his 25-person company, which just raised $10 million in Series A funding led by New Enterprise Associates. Our chat has been edited for length.

You had a nice job at Nokia. Why leave to start what seems like a very different business?

It was a personal vendetta for me. About 10 years ago, my wife became ill and it took us many months to find the right help for her. [Afterward], I [began investigating] different systems and learning how they work – Aetna’s, Kaiser’s, even some hospitals like Stanford. You could always find doctors through these services, but you weren’t given any information beyond doctors’ names and where they worked; you couldn’t see who they are, what they focus on specifically [etc.]. Finding the right doctor is complicated, because your perception of quality might be very different than mine.

ZocDoc, among others, also promises to help consumers find the right doctors. What does BetterDoctor differently?

The big difference between BetterDoctor and ZocDoc is that we will feature millions of doctors, pulling in information from [reviews site] Yelp, Doximity [an online social networking service for U.S. physicians], and government data made available through the Open Data Act to [learn] where doctors are, which doctors are referring each other, all the procedures the doctors have done and performed and the prices they’ve charged. We’re not just going to feature those doctors whose are paying ZocDoc [to be listed in its service].

Do doctors have any control over what you feature about them?

They can claim their profile for free and edit their information. We’re also selling the doctor on the ability to upgrade their practice profile, where we create a mini website for them, because most practices still don’t have a good site or any online presence. They exist inside of BetterDoctor – they don’t get their own URL – but we take photos of the practice, write content for the doctor and basically create a picture that allows doctors to look more human to patients. We also [let validated doctors pay for] premium visibility.

How many doctors are in the database currently, and how many doctors have paid for these mini sites?

We have a clean database of million doctors at this point and we’ve built 15,000 [sites].

You used to make mobile apps and games for Nokia. How are you using that background at BetterDoctor?

We try to make it easy and fun for both doctors and patients to use the [platform] by making it very simple. Especially for patients, when you’re looking for a doctor, you’re often at your weakest. So the [user interface] works seamlessly and looks looks very minimalistic. We want to be sure that when you’re sitting there with a 100-degree fever, you can’t get lost.


New Fundings

24Tidy, a young, Shanghai-based startup that does its users’ laundry for them, just raised “tens of millions” of RMB from the investment branch of Suzhou, China-based Oriza Holdingsreports Tech In Asia, which notes that “‘tens of millions’ of RMB could mean anywhere from roughly $1.5 million to $15 million.”

Autobutler, a four-year-old, Copenhagen-based company that provides information online about automobile repair service providers to help users compare service costs, has raised roughly $10 million in a round led by Index Ventures. Earlier investors, including Dawn Capital and the Nordic venture capital firm Creandum, also participated in the round. TechCrunch has more here., a 1.5-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based online content site that caters to women, has raised $5 million in funding from earlier investors Social+Capital Partnership and Time Warner Investments. New investor R&R Ventures also participated in the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $11.5 million, shows Crunchbase.

MicroGreen Polymers, a 12-year-old, Arlington, Wa.-based company that turns plastic bottles into lightweight, environmentally friendly coffee cups, has raised $7 million in venture funding, $5 million in convertible debt, and another $5 million in secured debt, reports GeekWire. Altogether, the company has raised $45 million in equity and $17 million in debt, including from investors Waste ManagementWRF CapitalConfederated Tribes of Grand RondeStillaguamish Tribe and individuals.

Reviews42, a 3.5-year-old, New Delhi, India-based product and price discovery site, has raised $5 million in new funding led by Tiger Global Management. Existing investors Blume Ventures and Nirvana Venture Advisors also participated in the round. Earlier, the company had raised an undisclosed amount of funding, including from Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, co-founders of India’s largest e-commerce website,

Secret, a nine-month-old, San Francisco-based app that lets people post messages anonymously, has raised $25 million in new funding from investors, including Index VenturesRedpoint VenturesSV Angel and Fuel Capital. The company had previously raised $11.3 million. The young company is now valued at more than $100 million, reports the New York Times.

SoundCloud, the seven-year-old, Berlin-based digital-music service that was believed to be this close to being acquired by Twitter a couple of months ago, is now closing in on a deal with the largest record labels, which will reportedly take a stake in the company in exchange for not suing it over copyright violations. Bloomberg has the story here.

Upside Financial, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based SEC-registered investment advisor providing online brokerage services directly to consumers, as well as to retail banks and registered investment advisors, has raised $1.1 million from Cultivation Capital, the financial technology accelerator SixThirty, and angel investors.

WizRocket, a 1.5-year-old, Mumbai, India-based company whose SaaS-based analytical tools help sites measure and improve user engagement, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding from Accel Partnersreports the Economic Times.

Xagenic, a four-year-old, Toronto-based molecular-diagnostics company, has held a second closing of its Series B round, bringing the total raised to $25.5 million, including from BDC CapitalCTI Life Sciences FundDomain Associates and Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund. The company has raised at least $35.5 million to date, shows Crunchbase.


New Funds

Blue Sky Alternative Investments, an eight-year-old, Brisbane, Australia-based diversified asset manager, has announced plans to raise $30 million for a new venture fund designed to capitalize on Australia’s “underpenetrated VC asset class,” says the company’s investment director Elaine Stead to the outlet StartupSmart. Competition for venture capital deals in Australia is at an 11-year low, she says, observing that $100 million in venture capital was invested in Australia in 2013, compared with $29 billion in the U.S.

Charles River Ventures, the early-stage venture firm with offices in Menlo Park, Ca., and Cambridge, Ma., has officially closed its 16th fund with $400 million. Also, it wants you to know it would appreciate it if you’d just call it CRV from now on, thank you.

London Venture Partners, a three-year-old, London-based seed-stage firm focused on digital game startups in Europe, this morning announced its first investment fund with third party investors, including NEXON Co.,Wargaming, and Zynga CEO Don Mattrick. The firm, led by general partners David GardnerDavid Lau-Kee, and Paul Heydon, isn’t disclosing the size of its new fund. The firm’s past investments include SupercellNaturalMotion, and Unity.

Seedcamp, a seven-year-old, London-based micro VC fund, has held a first close on its third fund, reports, which says the outfit has secured $28 million of a $30 million round. Half the round is coming from the European Investment Fund, a part of the European Investment Bank dedicated to supporting research and innovation in the EU, says Tech.u; the other half is from investment funds like Index VenturesConnect VenturesWhiteStar CapitalCredo Ventures and Caixa Capital, along with individual angel investors.

Sevin Rosen Funds, the 34-year-old, Dallas-based venture firm, is reportedly hoping to raise up to $150 million for what would be its first new fund in eight years. The Dallas Business Journal has the story.

SV Angel, the San Francisco-based micro VC fund, is looking to raise up to $70 million for its fifth fund — much more than the roughly $40 million the firm raised for each of its last two funds — shows a new SEC filing that says the firm has yet to sell any shares. Managing director David Lee alone is listed on the filing.



Aorato, a 1.5-year-old, Herzliya, Israel-based cybersecurity startup whose software monitors access to central communication components in enterprise IT systems, is in talks to be acquired by Microsoft for $200 million, reports the WSJ. The company has raised $11 million to date, shows Crunchbase, including from Glilot Capital PartnersAccel Partners, and Innovation Endeavors.

DraftStreet, a four-year-old, New York-based online and mobile daily fantasy sports company, has been acquired by competitor DraftKings for an undisclosed amount. According to Crunchbase, DraftStreet had raised $3.1 million from undisclosed investors. Boston-based DraftKings has meanwhile raised $35.4 million, including from Redpoint VenturesGGV Capital, and Atlas Venture.

HowAboutWe, a 4.5-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based online platform that recommends dating activities for singles, has been acquired for undisclosed terms by IACreports the New York Times. Last month, Business Insider had reported that a hook-up between the two was imminent. IAC also owns dating properties, OK Cupid, and the mobile dating site Tinder.

Trunk Club, a five-year-old, Chicago-based e-commerce company that offers a personal styling service for men, is in acquisition talks with Nordstromreports Recode. The company, founded by Bonobos cofounder Brian Spaly, has twice raised capital but disclosed only its Series A, a $12 million round that included U.S. Venture Partners,Greycroft PartnersApex Venture Partners and Anthos Capital.

Sensor Platforms, a 10-year-old, San Jose-based company whose software interprets sensor data from smartphones and wearable devices, has been acquired by Audience, a publicly traded company that develops audio software and semiconductor systems. Sensor Platforms’ investors included North Bay AngelsArrowPath Venture Partners and Newbury Ventures.



HLM Venture Partners, a 31-year-old, Boston-based healthcare-focused venture firm, has promoted Yumin Choi to partner. Choi had joined the firm as an analyst seven years ago and was promoted in 2012 to vice president. Before joining HLM, Choi was an associate with Angel Healthcare Investors.

Facebook has agreed to fund a $194,000-a-year police position in Menlo Park, Ca., and police ethicists are accusing it of trying to buy protection. Says Menlo Park Mayor Ray Mueller: “Anyone who has the perception that Facebook is trying to protect themselves really doesn’t understand the situation,” he said. “That place is a fortress—they don’t need the Menlo Park Police to protect them.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk should get out of the car business, says influential DoubleLine Capital founder Jeff Gundlach, who thinks Musk should focus on building the battery systems that power his luxury electric vehicles. More here.

Christa Quarles, who most recently oversaw Disney’s mobile and social games division, has joined the social network for neighbors, Nextdoor, as its chief business officer, reporting to CEO Nirav Tolia. Recode has the story here. Quarles landed at Disney through its acquisition of Playdom, where she was CFO. Quarles also spent nearly a decade as an equity research analyst with Thomas Weisel Partners.

Zach Rait, a former Facebook software engineer, has joined Benchmark as an entrepreneur-in-residence, said the firm’s general partner, Matt Cohler, in a tweet yesterday. Among other things he developed at Facebook, Rait helped create the “subscription button” that allows people to subscribe to parts of your news feed without having to become your Facebook friend.


Job Listings

Naturebox, the well-funded 2.5-year-old, San Carlos, Ca.-based snack delivery service, is looking for a VP of brand strategy.



Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference rolls into its second day in Aspen. You can watch a live stream of the event here.



The value of disclosed M&A deals fell 56 percent between the first and second quarters of this year, from $7.55 billion to $3.35 billion, says the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters. Investors Business Daily has more here.


Essential Reads

Zeroing in on precious real estate: the lock screen.

Twitter is cracking down on companies that provide stats about their users.

More fascinating emails trickle out of the wage-conspiracy case involving Google, Apple, Intel, and Adobe.



One very ambitious pneumatic tube installation.

Ryan Block, VP of product at AOL, tries canceling Comcast.

The 10 craziest stories in Rick James’s posthumously published new memoir.


Retail Therapy

Bittermilk. Just add the booze.

These contours are kind of irresistible.


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