StrictlyVC: August 28, 2014

Good Thursday morning, everyone! We had a few meetings yesterday so don’t have a column today. Hope you enjoy the rest of today’s newsletter. 

Also, psst, web visitors, an easier-to-read version of today’s newsletter is here.


Top News in the A.M.

Ruh roh. At least a handful of U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase, have been struck by hackers in a series of coordinated attacks this month, reports the New York Times. Among the data stolen: checking and savings account information.

Good thing Uber has David Plouffe. Its campaign to cripple competitor Lyft might well prompt a federal investigation.


New Fundings

Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, a 10-year-old, Houston, Tx.-based developer of cellular immunotherapies, has raised $55 million in Series C funding from new backers RA Capital ManagementPerceptive AdvisorsJennison AssociatesSabby CapitalRidgeback Capital ManagementvenBio SelectRedmile Group and AJU IB Investment, among others. Earlier investors AVG Ventures and Remeditex Ventures also participated in the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $107 million.

The Earnest Research Company, a young, stealthy New York startup that helps customers understand trends around the consumer economy, has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding, reports VentureWire. The round was led by Greycroft Partners. Other participants include Osage Venture Partnersff Venture CapitalRincon Venture Partners, and Peak Opportunity Partners.

Glassbeam, a five-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based machine data analytics company, has raised $2 million in new funding led by its sole earlier investor, VKRM Group. The company has now raised $3.3 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

GoEuro, a two-year-old, Berlin-based meta-mode travel search platform for Europe, has raised $27 million in Series A funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with Battery VenturesHasso Plattner Ventures and Lakestar participating. Venture Capital Dispatch writes about the company here.

Hike, a 1.5-year-old, New Delhi, India-based startup behind a popular mobile messaging app, has raised $65 million from Bharti Softbank Joint Ventures (BSB) and Tiger Global Management. BSB had invested at least $21 million in the company across two previous rounds, shows Crunchbase.

InContext Solutions, a five-year-old, Chicago-based market research firm that creates 3D virtual store environments so companies can study the shopping behavior of their customers, has raised $12 million in Series D funding led by Beringea, with its London affiliate, Beringea LLP, participating alongside earlier investors Plymouth Ventures and Hyde Park Venture Partners. The company has now raised roughly $20 million altogether.

KKBOX, a 10-year-old, Taiwan-based streaming music services company, has raised $104 million from Singapore GIC. TechCrunch has more here.

Mizzen And Main, a two-year-old, Dallas-based menswear startup that produces tailored clothing, has raised $1.2 million in Series A funding led by VegasTechFund and Astor & Black founder David Schottenstein, with other individual investors participating. The company has now raised just less than $1.5 million altogether. More here.

Nutanix, a five-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based virtualized datacenter platform, has raised $14 million in funding from unnamed investors that it characterizes as “two premier Boston-based public market investors with over $3 trillion in combined assets under management.” That description suggests Fidelity Investments and Wellington Management are involved, notes the WSJ, but neither responded to the outlet’s request for comment.

Rockbot, a 4.5-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based social music platform for businesses, has closed an undisclosed amount of funding from Universal Music Group, with Detroit Venture PartnersXG VenturesSusa Ventures and an AngelList syndicate led by Sundeep Ahuja participating. The company had previously raised $1.2 million in seed funding from Google VenturesAccelerator Ventures and others.

Socure, a two-year-old, New York-based startup that verifies online identities through “social biometrics,” has raised $4.2 million in new funding from 34 investors, shows a new SEC filing. According to Crunchbase, the company has raised $8.5 million altogether, including from AlphaPrime Ventures and Abundance Partners.

Wikia, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based fan-generated media site, has raised $15 million in funding to expand in Asia, at a valuation north of $200 million, VentureWire reports. The round was led by Digital Garage, and includes earlier investors AmazonBessemer Venture Partners and Institutional Venture Partners, among others. The company has now raised $39.8 million to date.

Ybrain, a 1.5-year-old, Seoul, Korea-based neuroscience startup that makes wearables for Alzheimer’s patients, has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding led by Stonebridge Capital. The company has raised $4.2 million to date. TechCrunch has much more here.

ZAI Laboratory, a Shanghai, China-based drug development and commercialization company, has raised more than $30 million in Series A funding led by Qiming Venture Partners, with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersTF CapitalSequoia Capital and other institutional investors participating. ZAI was founded by Samantha Du, who has also served as a Sequoia Capital venture partner.


New Funds

Acer, the Taipei, Taiwan-based personal computer maker, has established a venture fund to seek out long-term strategic investments that also promise good financial returns, the company announced earlier today. The fund, approved by the company’s board of directors back in April, will invest roughly $33.5 million to start. More here.

Arch Venture Partners, a 28-year-old, Chicago-based venture firm that originally spun out of the University of Chicago, has raised a $400 million fund to invest in early-stage companies. The firm last closed a fund — also a $400 million vehicle — in 2007. Forbes has more here.

Shoreline Venture Management, a 16-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based early-stage venture firm, is hoping to raise up to $60 million for its third fund, shows an SEC filing that states that the first sale has yet to occur. Shoreline was last in the market in 2006, show SEC filings.



The last numbers that investors will likely see before deciding to buy into the Alibaba IPO are highly encouraging. The company’s net income almost tripled to $1.99 billion in the three months ended June. Bloomberg has the story here.

LendingClub, the seven-year-old, San Francisco-based, online peer-to-peer financing company, has filed to go public. The good news from the company’s S-1: the $86.9 million in revenue it saw in the first six months of the year is up 134 percent over the year-ago period. The meh news: the company’s growth precipitated a $16.5 million loss in the first half of the year, down from $1.7 million in profit during the same time last year. Dealbook has more here. LendingClub’s biggest institutional shareholders are Norwest Venture Partners, which owns 16.5 percent of the company; Canaan Partners, which owns 15.9 percent; Foundation Capital, which owns 12.8 percent; and Morgenthaler Venture Partners, which owns 9.2 percent.

Rhythm Pharmaceuticals, 1.5-year-old, Boston-based company that’s developing drugs to treat diabetes and obesity, has filed plans to raise as much as $86.3 million in an IPO. The company is majority owned by New Enterprise Associates, which holds a 31.21 percent stake; Third Rock Ventures, which owns 31.09 percent; MPM BioVentures, which owns 18.58 percent; and Pfizer, which owns 9.92 percent.



Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates is joining Silicon Valley’s fight against the National Rifle Association.

Forbes asks Benchmark‘s Bill Gurley how he advises his portfolio companies. Says Gurley: “[I]t does feel like we are in the later innings. So I try to help the entrepreneurs in our portfolio understand that times like 2001 and 2009 happen with some regularity and that it is good to be prepared for such down-turns.”

Yuri Milner hasn’t retired to the Maldives on his Facebook riches. He’s still making bold bets, including on Snapchat, which he quietly backed earlier this year at a $7 billion valuation, according to WSJ sources.

Beth Seidenberg of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers on getting along with the agency tech loves to hate, the FDA.

SFWeekly profiles Sam Singer, Bay Area crisis manager extraordinaire. “When your workspace is engulfed in flames; when your mistress threatens to reveal your illegitimate family; when your restaurant serves up E. coli burgers . . . you better call Sam Singer. ‘When things go bump in the night,’ assures Singer, ‘we are there.’”


Job Listings

IAC appears to be looking anew for an associate director or director of M&A. The job is in New York.



In the first six months of this year, $2.75 billion was invested in 218 venture deals throughout emerging Asia, nearing a record high, reports the WSJ. Sequoia Capital was reportedly the most active investor. It closed 25 deals in the region during the first half of the year.

Top mobile apps by age and share of time spent. (H/T: Paul Kedrosky)


Essential Reads

Is Silicon Valley the new Versailles?

Find out how many people see your tweets.

The technology behind Hyperlapse from Instagram.

Google is opening a 20,000-square-foot startup center in Seoul’s Gangnam neighborhood to bolster regional startups and give them more global exposure.



Who’s in the office? The American workday in one graph.

“The Simpsons” writer Dana Gould on the dark side of the funny business.

Seven smart smartphone photography hacks.


Retail Therapy

Pigeon Edition prints.

Patchnride, a bicycle flat repair system that promises to permanently repair a flat tire — on the fly.

Oh, we’re definitely going to be needing one of these.

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