StrictlyVC: August 22, 2014

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Top News in the A.M.

An Apple iPhone 6 screen snag has left a supply chain scrambling, reports Reuters.

A federal court has rejected Aereo’s request to argue it’s a cable company.


After Onavo

Earlier this week, The Information published a piece about mobile software makers who are flying blind following Facebook’s acquisition last year of the app analytics startup Onavo, even as consumers spend more time inside apps than ever before. In fact, according to a new Comscore report, activity on smartphones and tablets has grown to 60 percent of our digital media time, driven predominately by apps.

On the desktop, of course, Comscore, Nielsen and SEO companies can learn a lot about site referrals based on URL tracking, and for the most part, everyone has access to the same data. By contrast, the mobile ecosystem offers no such visibility. Aside from tracking how may times an app has been downloaded, says Keval Desai of Interwest Partners, “There’s no true visibility into the traffic of top sites, no visibility into app discovery.”

Desai compares the dearth of mobile analytics to the old days of the Internet, when there were “these closed islands, like AOL and CompuServe, before the web came along and opened everything up.” Today’s “islands” are Google and Apple and, increasingly, Facebook, which control most of the mobile app market and thus can see what others cannot, including how often particular apps are used.

Things don’t look to change any time soon, either, despite the growing number of companies attempting to make money off of mobile analytics. These companies range from four-year-old, San Francisco-based App Annie, which tracks downloads, to, also in San Francisco, a new company in the broader mobile-usage-tracking space that was founded by ex-Onavo employees and raised $5 million in seed funding from General Catalyst Partners this summer.

Other analytics startups trying to figure out mobile analytics include MobileactionSensor TowerMixPanelAmplitudeAppGenius, and Mobiledevhq, a Seattle-based company that was acquired earlier this month for undisclosed terms.

The question is whether the absence of a mobile analytics standard will stunt the development of new mobile apps. Desai, for one, isn’t ready to toss in the towel.

While a lack of transparency into the ecosystem may frustrate reporters and venture capitalists looking for the Next Mobile Trend, the rest of the world may wonder, “Who cares?” suggests Desai. Consumers can visit an app store to get an idea of what’s new and exciting, he notes. VCs employ people to write scripts to figure out what’s hot and what’s trending. Meanwhile, “If you’re a large advertiser and want to know what are the most frequently used apps by a particular demographic, you can get that data through your ad agencies or through the publishers themselves. App publishers have an incentive to voluntarily disclose that information – in private. It’s like with TV and radio and print, where you have publishers who, for the right reasons, aren’t interesting in [publicly] disclosing their viewership data.”

Desai — whose firm was an investor in the mobile analytics firm Flurry, which sold to Yahoo earlier this summer in a reported $200 million deal — adds that he “isn’t saying that [mobile analytics is] not important.” Better insight into how applications are performing would be great. “But people who really care about this stuff have a way of finding it out.”


New Fundings

Advanced Cooling Therapy, a 5.5-year-old, Chicago-based medical device firm working on an esophageal cooling device to control patient temperature, has raised $1.5 million in Series A funding from Heartland AngelsGopher Angels and TWB Investment Partnership, along with several individual investors.

Claret Medical, a five-year-old, Santa Rosa, Ca.-based developer of a filter system used during structural heart, vascular and cardiac surgery procedures, has raised $18 million in Series B funding led by Santé Ventures, with participation from Lightstone Ventures. The company has raised at least $23.1 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

ClickBus, a year-old, Sao Paulo, Brazil-based online bus ticket platform, has raised $10 million in funding from Latin America Internet GroupTengelmann VenturesHoltzbrinck Ventures, and Rocket Internet.

Guavus, an eight-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based big data analytics platform, has raised $20 million in new funding from its investors, which include Artiman VenturesSofinnova VenturesIntel CapitalSingTel Innov8Investor Growth CapitalQuestMark Partners and Goldman Sachs. The company now raised just more than $107 million altogether.

Holtzbrinck Ventures, a 14-year-old, Munich-based investment firm, is transferring its stakes in seven e-commerce companies to Rocket Internet AG in exchange for a 2.5 percent stake in the company, which is planning to go public. The announcement, notes, comes after other recent funding rounds at Rocket, the Berlin-based company that creates and funds new startups.

Jaunt, a year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based virtual reality cinema startup that recently emerged from stealth mode, has raised $27.8 million in Series B funding led by Highland Capital Partners. Other participants in the round included Google Ventures and existing investors Redpoint VenturesBritish Sky BroadcastingPeter Gotcher and Blake Krikorian. GigaOm has more here.

Lastline, a three-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based malware defense company has raised $10 million in new funding from Dell Ventures and Presidio Ventures, along with earlier investors and Redpoint Ventures. The company has raised $23.7 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Madrone, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that provides a cloud-based service for alternative investment managers to analyze and automate their portfolio and business decisions, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Green Visor Capital.

Mark One, a nine-month-old, San Francisco-based company whoses flagship product is the Vessyl smart cup — a cup that tracks your liquid consumption throughout the day and was designed in part by renowned designer Yves Behar — has raised $3 million in seed funding co-led by Felicis Ventures and Horizons Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

MobileDay, a three-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based company that provides one-tap mobile dialing into any conference bridge, international call, or online meeting, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by theFoundry Group, with participation from Innoventure Partners and Drummond Road Capital. Earlier investors SoftBankGoogle VenturesBullet Time Ventures, and SoftTech VC also participated in the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $10 million, shows Crunchbase.

Product Hunt, a 10-month-old, San Francisco-based site and app that highlights new tech products and services, has raised $1 million in seed funding. Y Combinator provided $120,000 of the funding. (Product Hunt passed through its program this summer.) The other $880,000 came from A-Grade InvestmentsbetaworksCowboy VenturesCrunchFundGoogle VenturesGreylock PartnersLudlow VenturesSlow VenturesSV AngelTradecraftVayner/RSE and unnamed individual investors.

Swift Navigation, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based GPS technology company that promises more accurate positioning, including for drone use, has raised $2.6 million in seed funding led by First Round Capital. Other participants in the round included Fall Line CapitalFelicis VenturesLemnos LabsQualcomm VenturesVegasTechFund and individual investor Kal Vepuri.

Vestaron, a 13-year-old, Kalamazoo, Mi.-based company that makes environmentally friendly insecticides, has raised $10 million in funding led by new investor Cultivian Sandbox Ventures. Earlier investors Southwest Michigan First Life Science Venture FundOpen Prairie VenturesPangaea VenturesMichigan Accelerator Fund and others also participated. The company has now raised roughly $20 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

ViaCyte, a 15-year-old, San Diego-based therapeutic company focused on diabetes, has raised $20 million via a deal with Janssen Research & Development as it prepares to launch clinical studies of a regenerative-medicine treatment. The company has raised at least $61 million to date from institutional investors, including Pacific Horizon Ventures,Sanderling VenturesAsset Management Company, and Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation.


New Funds

Global Polymeric Materials Technology Commercialization Fund, a new, Akron, Oh.-based investment vehicle that’s looking to invest in and help commercialize polymer technologies, has raised $11 million so far — $5 million of which has come from an unnamed Chinese investor. The fund is looking to assemble an additional $20 million by year end in order to receive additional capital from the state of Ohio. More here.

Pereg Ventures, a two-year-old, early-stage venture capital firm, has closed on $25 million for its first fund, shows an SEC filing. The firm was founded by Itzhak FIsher, EVP of Global Business Development for The Nielsen Company. Previously, Fisher led global product development and was executive chairman of Nielsen Online. (Nielsen has reportedly committed $10 million to the fund.) It isn’t clear if the filing represents a final closing. Fisher has told reporters in the past that he was targeting $50 million.



IPO stock watch: recent issuers iDreamSky and TrueCar have hit new highs, notes Investor’s Business Daily.



Eesh. When Y Combinator cofounder Jessica Livingston arrived at The Wine Room in Palo Alto, Ca., to meet a reporter, another investor, also waiting outside, asked if she was there for a date.

LinkedIn’s head of product, Deep Nishar, is leaving the Silicon Valley-based business network after a six year run, reports Recode.



Snapchat versus Skype in the U.S. (H/T: Benedict Evans)

The 10 fastest-growing health IT companies, according to Inc.


Job Listings

Siemens Venture Capital is looking for an associate. The job is in Boston.


Essential Reads

Ebay has been telling potential recruits for the position of PayPal CEO that it’s considering spinning off PayPal as soon as next year, sources tell The Information. Former PayPal exec Keith Rabois says it’d be a whole lot easier if eBay just rebranded itself PayPal.

There are 18,796 distinct Android devices, according to OpenSignal’s latest fragmentation report.

The New Yorker goes to Y Combinator’s Demo Day.



Why no one wants to run against Hillary Clinton.

A secret subway exit disguised as a Brooklyn townhouse, and 11 other hidden gems in New York City.

Most office dogs would rather work from home, actually.


Retail Therapy

It’s a finger puppet, it’s a nail mitten, it’s Screenster, a protective microsuede thing that doesn’t leave behind prints on touchscreen devices.

The iPhone 5s for $79, at Wal-Mart right now.


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