StrictlyVC: September 26, 2014

And it is Friday, party people. Have a terrific weekend! No column today, but we’ll see you back here next week with some good stuff. (Web visitors, click here for an easier-to-read version of today’s email.)


Top News in the A.M.

Another day, another threatened crackdown on car services Uber and Lyft, this time from L.A. and San Francisco prosecutors.

FBI Director James Comey criticized Apple and Google yesterday for developing smartphone encryption so secure that law enforcement officials have trouble gaining information stored on devices, even when they have valid search warrants.


New Fundings

BioMotiv, a two-year-old, Cleveland, Oh.-based therapeutic accelerator, has raised $25 million from the Japan-based pharmaceutical company Takeda Pharmaceutical in exchange for exclusive access to many of BioMotiv’s drugs. The financing constitutes a “significant minority investment,” says BioMotiv.

Coinify, a four-year-old Copenhagen-based bitcoin payment services company, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from SEED Capital, a Danish venture firm. According to the outlet Unquote, the investment marks just the second bitcoin-related investment for a Nordic firm, the other being Creandum’s recent Series A investment in KnCMiner, a Stockholm-based maker of bitcoin mining hardware.

Context Relevant, a two-year-old, Seattle-based company that sells prepackaged applications intended to solve specific, data-related business problems, has raised $13.5 million in Series B-1 funding from Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Formation 8, New York Life, and Bloomberg Beta. In late May, the company announced $21 million in Series B funding led by Formation 8. The newest round brings the company’s total funding to $42 million.

CureLauncher, a two-year-old, Bloomfield Hills, Mi.-based startup that helps users find medical treatments (including via clinical trials) based on their conditions, has raised $500,000 in Series B funding, a year after raising $500,000 in Series A funding. The new round was led by the early-stage venture capital firm InkWell.

Exo, a 1.5-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based producer of protein bars made from crickets (really), has raised $1.2 million in new seed funding fromCollaborative Fund, Start Garden and author and angel investor Tim Ferriss. The company had previously raised $100,000 via the New York-based packaged food and beverage accelerator, AccelFoods.

Fundrise, a four-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based real estate crowdfunding platform, has added $3.6 million to its Series A funding round, bringing its total funding to $38 million. New investors in the round — which remains open — include the Chinese social networking company Renren; Guggenheim Partners; Rockrose President Justin Elghanayan; and James Ratner, the chairman and chief executive of Forest City Commercial Group. Venture Capital Dispatch has the story along with a longer look at the crowded, crowdfunding sector in which Fundrise now finds itself.

Hootsuite, the six-year-old, Vancouver-based startup known for its social media management dashboards, has raised $60 million in new venture funding, it told Re/code yesterday morning. The latest funding was led by a new Boston-based investor that Hootsuite hasn’t revealed, as well as earlier investors Insight Venture Partners, Accel Partners and OMERS Ventures. The company has now raised a total of $250 million.

MiaoPai, a three-year-old, Beijing-based short-video mobile app maker, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers China, according to China Money Network. Sina Corp.Redpoint Ventures and StarVC also participated. The company had raised at least $25 million in priof funding, says the report.

Nubank, a year-old, São Paulo-based financial services start-up whose first product is a MasterCard Platinum credit card that users can manage through an Android or iOS app, has raised $13.8 million led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from new investor Berggruen Holdings and earlier investor Kaszek Ventures, a Buenos Aires-based venture capital firm. Dealbook has more here.

Skillz, a two-year-old, Boston-based cash tournament platform for mobile games that allows players to win rights, cash and other prizes, has raised $3 million in equity funding and $3 million in venture debt led by Atlas Venture, with NextView Ventures and individual investors participating. The new tranche brings the startup’s total equity funding raised to $10.3 million, reports Venture Capital Dispatch.

Zeptor, a five-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based company whose silicon anode enables battery makers to produce high-powered lithium ion batteries, has raised $5.2 million in fresh funding, shows an SEC filing. The company has raised at least $8.4 million to date.


New Funds

The Small Business Administration is expanding its venture capital program for “impact investments,” reports the Austin Business Journal.More here.

UpWest Labs, a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based accelerator program for Israeli entrepreneurs, has raised $4 million for its second fund, according to an SEC filing that shows a $15 million target. UpWest mentors founders for four months and provides them with $20,000 in exchange for an 8 percent stake in their business. Some of the outfit’s many investments include Honeybook, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based invite-only planning platform that helps creative businesses and their clients collaborate and that earlier this week announced $10 million in new funding led by Aleph. The company has also backed Sentinel Labs, a year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based cybersecurity startup that raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Tiger Global Management back in April.



Coherus BioSciences, a four-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company that’s developing similar versions of widely used biotechnology drugs, has filed to go public, with a maximum offering amount of $86.2 million. The company’s principal shareholders are Daiichi Sankyo Company, which owns 11.13 percent; Lilly Ventures (the venture arm of Eli Lilly), which owns 11.17 percent; KKR, which owns 9.7 percent; MX II Associates, which owns 9.67 percent; Sofinnova Ventures, which owns 8.28 percent; and Venrock, which owns 7.65 percent.



Investor Marc Andreessen decided yesterday was the day to send the startup world into panic mode, tweeting that the many “cash-incinerating” startups up and running will be vaporized when the market turns. For good measure, he elaborated on the point, noting that venture-backed startups that have raised a bunch of cash and rented fancy offices and hired a lot of people (which describes a good number of companies at this point) should “worry.”

Andreessen Horowitz has brought on Stanford University professor Vijay Pande to be its first Andreessen Horowitz Distinguished Visiting Professor of Computer Science. Pande, who teaches chemistry, computer science and structural biology at Stanford, will essentially act as a liaison between the firm and the university, so that computer science and other students will know where to turn when they’re considering commercializing their research.

Deric Emry has left Baltimore, Md.-based ABS Capital after 15 years, saying in an email to his contacts that he has “decided to pursue my passion for venture capital in a different format” as a venture partner at Greenspring Associates in Owings Mills, Md. Before joining ABS Capital in 1999, Emry was an associate at the bank Alex.Brown & Sons.

Sam Waksal is back in a big way, seemingly. Having quietly raised $500 million in debt and equity for his newest drug company, Kadmon, whose products aim to treat and manage hepatitis C, he’s now planning to take it public, he tells CNBC. More here. As many readers know, Waksal founded the biotech company ImClone Systems; he was later jailed for five years following insider-trading charges. Three months after his release, Eli Lilly bought ImClone for $6.5 billion.

It’s a worldwide contagion. In an open letter addressed to his portfolio companies, Matrix Partners China co-founder David Zhang warns that the investment market is about to cool off, a direct reaction to public warnings by venture capitalist Bill Gurley about the current climate. The letter, which quotes Gurley, has since gone viral on Chinese social media, reports Tech in Asia.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally set up the Facebook account of comic Andy Samberg because Zuckerberg was horrified to discover that Samberg was not on Facebook. So Samberg tells “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon.


Job Listings

Dawn Capital, an early-stage firm in London, in looking for an analyst. (Senior associate Teddie Wardi tells us this person will be wearing two hats, as an investor and as someone who can help with the firm’s marketing efforts.)



Some top reasons that startups fail, in the words of founders and investors who’ve seen these craters up close.

Why the Winklevoss twins are so bullish about bitcoin, in 33 slides.


Essential Reads

Inside the building where Apple tortures the iPhone 6.

WWYD? (What will Yahoo do?)

How to start a startup: Lectures by Y Combinator president Sam Altman (here’s one; here’s two).



To see every swing of the bat that Derek Jeter has made in his professional career, you would need to watch this motion nonstop for more than 4 days.

People feeling insecure about their relationships post about them more on Facebook, according to a new study that has misanthropes high-fiving.

A yacht-shaped hospital and spa that, if made, will kind of make every other hospital in the world look like prison.


Retail Therapy

This seems like a bad idea.

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