StrictlyVC: September 10, 2014

Hi, good Wednesday morning, everyone! StrictlyVC spent part of yesterday driving back and forth to Palo Alto and ran out of time to write a column, but we’ll see you back here tomorrow. Also, for an easier-to-read version of the following, click here.


Top News in the A.M.

Apple didn’t disappoint yesterday, say those who jammed into its Cupertino, Ca., launch event. In addition to two new phones, the consumer products giant unveiled its long-awaited Apple Watch and a new payments system. Here’s Bloomberg on the new payments system, The Verge on the Apple Watch, and the New York Times on the company’s two iPhone 6 models.


New Fundings

4Moms, a nine-year-old, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based maker of high-tech baby gear (including a stroller that folds itself up with the push of a button), has raised $41 million in growth capital led by Castanea Partners. Bain Capital Ventures, which invested $20 million in the company in 2012, also participated. The company has now raised just more than $80 million altogether.

Avogy, a four-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based semiconductor and systems technology company, has raised $40 million in Series B funding led by Intel Capital, with participation from earlier investor Khosla Ventures.

aWhere, a 15-year-old, Denver-based software-as-a-service data analytics company that combines public and proprietary data about weather, soil quality, and crop prices to help farmers make better business decisions, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Elixir Capital, with Aravaipa Ventures participating. The company has raised $11.6 million to date. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.

CartoDB, a new company out of six-year-old, New York-based Vizzuality, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Earlybird Venture Capital, with Kibo Ventures and Vitamina K participating. CartoDB makes easy-to-read maps and apps that make sense of location data.

Dagne Dover, a two-year-old, New York-based maker of handbags and accessories, has raised $1.25 million in seed funding from investors, including 2020 Ventures, First Round Capital, and individuals David Bell, Fabrice Grinda, and Dominic Cioffoletti.

Edufii, a two-year-old, San Luis Obispo, Ca.-based social network for athletic skills development (coaches use it in part to communicate their advice to athletes), has raised $1.4 million in Series A funding led by DFJ Frontier and Pasadena Angels. Other participants in the round include the Gideon Hixon Fund, Tech Coast Angels, SLO Seed Ventures and individual investors.

Euclises Pharmaceuticals, a three-year-old, St. Louis, Mo.-based biotech startup that’s aiming to develop treatments for cancer, has raised $1.3 million in Series A funding led by Cultivation Capital, with BioGenerator, Missouri Technology Corporation, the St. Louis Arch Angels, ABC Laboratories and the St. Louis County’s Helix Fund participating.

FieldAware, a three-year-old, Plano, Tx.-based company whose software makes it easier for mobile field workers to handle technical support calls over their phones, has raised $24 million in new funding led by Summit Bridge Capital, with Silicon Valley Bank and earlier investors OpenView Venture Partners, Atlantic Bridge Partners and Oyster Capital Partners participating. The round follows a $12 million investment made in FieldAware by OpenView Venture Partners in late 2012.

FlightCar, a 2.5-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based online marketplace that allows car owners who are parking at the airport to rent out their cars to other travelers, has raised $13.5 million in fresh funding from GGV Capital. Comcast Ventures and Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin also invested in the round, alongside earlier investors General Catalyst Partners, SoftBank Capital, and First Round Capital. The company has raised $19.7 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

HomeUnion, a five-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based online real estate investment management firm that specializes in single-family rental properties, has raised $5.5 million in Series A funding from Artiman Ventures.

Interior Define, a two-year-old, Chicago-based e-commerce site that promises high-quality furniture with personalization options, has raised $1 million in seed funding from individual investors, including Bonobos and Red Swan Ventures founder Andy Dunn.

LightCyber, a three-year-old, Israel-based cyber-security startup that says it enables companies to detect cyber penetrations early on, has raised $10 million in new funding led by Battery Ventures. Earlier investors Glilot Capital Partners and Check Point Software co-founder Marius Nacht also participated. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.

SGB, a seven-year-old, San Diego-based bioenergy crop company that develops and produces hybrids seeds of the Jatropha tree as a low-cost feedstock for biofuels, has $11 million from existing investors, which includes Life Technologies, Finistere Ventures, Thomas, McNerney & Partners, and Flint Hills Resources, a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries. The company has raised at least $28 million to date, shows Crunchbase. The San Diego Union-Tribune has much more here.

Taboola, a seven-year-old, New York-based content-marketing company that was founded in Tel Aviv, is looking to raise $75 million to $100 million at a valuation of between $900 million and $1.2 billion, say WSJ sources. The company has hired Credit Suisse Group to lead the fundraising.


New Funds

Avrio Capital, an eight-year-old, late-stage venture firm that looks to back innovative food and agriculture companies, has held a first close of roughly $60 million dollars for its fourth fund. The Canadian firm, which has offices in Calgary, Montreal and Toronto, counts Farm Credit Canada and Export Development Canada among its limited partners.

Exitround, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that allows founders to discreetly explore strategic acquisition opportunities, is today announcing Exitround Capital, a marketplace that will put founders in touch with private equity capital options, as well. (Candidates need between $3 million and $100 million in yearly revenue, with positive EBITDA margins.) You can learn more here.

Jasper Infotech, the seven-year-old, New Delhi, India-based owner of e-commerce juggernaut Snapdeal, is launching its own mobile-focused technology incubator and seed fund, reports the Economic Times. The company’s head of corporate development, Abhishek Kumar, says Snapdeal will incubate about eight ventures for two months per batch and will set up a separate team to run the initiative. “An increasing amount of content and transactions are happening on hand-held devices . . .That’s the eco-system we are targeting,” he told the outlet.

SoftBank Capital, the investment arm of Japanese telecom company SoftBank, has raised $100 million for a new venture fund, according to a recent SEC filing that was flagged yesterday by Boston Business Journal. SoftBank’s portfolio includes the wearables company Fitbit and media startup BuzzFeed.

TrueBridge Capital Partners, a seven-year-old, Chapel Hill, N.C., fund of funds manager focused exclusively on venture capital, has raised its third vehicle with $408 million, reports VentureWire. The firm’s LPs include Lehigh University and the agricultural company Syngenta.



Alibaba‘s stock filing, which could potentially be the largest ever, is already fully booked after its road show kicked off earlier this week, reports Fortune.

Rocket Internet, the seven-year-old, Germany outfit, plans to float a stake of just below 15 percent in the company in an IPO worth about $970 million, sources tell Reuters.

A quick look at the 10 “hottest” tech companies that are expected to go public by year end.



Dropbox has “acqu-hired” the two computer vision and machine learning professors who founded Kriegman-Belhumeur Vision Technologies, a software concern provides select customers with “cutting-edge” facial recognition technology. TechCrunch explains the deal here.

To the consternation of 7-year-olds everywhere, Microsoft is in advanced talks to acquire the maker of the game Minecraft for more than $2 billion, reports Dealbook.

Path, the beleaguered social network, is on the cusp of being acquired byApple, reports PandoDaily, whose source tells the outlet: “It’s almost done, if not signed already, but it’s essentially a done deal.” A pact isn’t so far-fetched, notes Business Insider. Path founder Dave Morin had a marketing and product role at Apple between 2004 and 2006; he was also seated in the front row of Apple’s big event yesterday.



Y Combinator president Sam Altman has taken to Genius — the online platform that breaks down text with line-by-line annotations — to point out some of the “major disagreements” he had with a recent piece in The Information about Y Combinator (as well as to supplement other parts of the piece with his additional thoughts). It makes for interesting reading. For example, the original story reported that: “One of the main reasons that investors have grown more fearful about YC’s dominance is the increasingly stratospheric valuations of YC companies.” Altman says those valuations are entirely out of his hands, though. “I’d be delighted if venture investors stopped paying such high prices for the companies coming out of YC,” he writes. “The number one rule of fundraising strategy is to never put yourself in a position where you might face a down round, which are usually fatal.”

If Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has any political ambitions, he wouldn’t admit it yesterday during the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. One of San Francisco’s highest-profile civic leaders, Benioff also declined to identify with a political party, saying, “I’m not a Democrat or Republican, I’m an American. I give everyone a lot of money.”

Reggie Brown came up with the idea of creating an application to send disappearing picture messages while a Stanford student and fraternity brother of Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, the company announced in a release yesterday (one that, big surprise, went over the wire during Apple’s widely watched launch event). The two sides have also agreed to an undisclosed settlement that ends a suit that Brown had filed against the firm. According to yesterday’s statement: “We are pleased that we have been able to resolve this matter in a manner that is satisfactory to Mr. Brown and the Company. We acknowledge Reggie’s contribution to the creation of Snapchat and appreciate his work in getting the application off the ground.”

Tracy Isacke has joined Silicon Valley Bank as the head of its corporate venture relationship group, which was established in 2009. Isacke was previously an executive vice president of new business ventures at Telefonica Digital.

Vanity Fair’s New Establishment issue is out. At the very top of its “disruptors” list: entrepreneur Elon Musk, just ahead of Larry Page andSergey Brin, and Tim Cook and Jonathan Ive.


Job Listings

AMD Ventures is looking for hire someone — an associate, senior associate, or principal, based on the person’s experience — to add to its venture team. The job is in Sunnyvale, Ca.

Also, we listed this job yesterday without a link: Hewlett-Packard is hiring a corporate development associate in Palo Alto, Ca.


Essential Reads

Bloomberg imagines what Alibaba‘s post-IPO wish list might look like, highlighting Snapchat and Internet TV provider Roku among other possible acquisition targets.

Wow. SpaceX is vying with Boeing to build NASA taxis to Mars.



The most economically diverse top colleges.

Oh, that name misspelling was no mistake. Your Starbucks barista is hoping you have a mental breakdown.


Retail Therapy

You already have the lumberjack shirts and beard. May as well get the mug.

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