StrictlyVC: October 15, 2014

Good Wednesday morning, everyone! (Web visitors, here’s an easier-to-read version of today’s email.)


Top News in the A.M.

There’s a new security vulnerability called Poodle that looks to have bite, reports Wired.

If Republicans win back the Senate come Election Day, that power shift could shake up tech policy in a handful of ways, reports the Washington Post.

Fitbit fans, rejoice. The company is about to introduce two new activity trackers, says Gizmodo.


Saying Goodbye to Age-Driven Lists

Last week, Fortune released its annual “40 under 40” list, and, as is always the case, writes its assistant managing editor, there was blowback about who was featured. One complaint about this year’s list is that there are just 15 women, which, she acknowledges, is “not parity – far from it.” However, she still defends Fortune’s reasoning, saying the business achievements of women under age 40 don’t match men of the same age group.

The silver lining, continues the editor, is that “when you look at women between 40 and 44, the universe of powerful women explodes in number — and their roles are much bigger. The sweet spot for women in business, I would argue, is ages 40 to 44.”

Maybe we’re supposed to slow clap here. Instead, we’d like to propose to Fortune and other outlets that they stop ranking businesspeople by age. Age lists are absurd on almost ever conceivable level.

If you’re still in your twenties, you might not appreciate how weird it is that leading business publications celebrate professionals based on the year in which they were born. But it’s a fairly ghoulish obsession and worse, it feeds into society’s growing disregard for everyone over the age of 40.

That’s a whole lot of people. According to U.S. Census Bureau figures from 2010, 30.6 million Americans, or roughly 10 percent of the population fell between the ages of 18 and 24 years, while 82.1 million or 26.6 percent fell between 25 and 44 years of age and roughly the same amount of people were between the ages of 45 and 64 years old.

It isn’t fashionable to care about age diversity. Google didn’t disclose its employees’ ages in its diversity report. Neither did Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn or Pinterest, and there wasn’t much of an uproar about the subject. Everyone was too focused on how white and male-dominated each company appears to be.

And, people like lists; they drive traffic and ad revenue. We get it.

But the relentless focus of Silicon Valley and the broader business press on wunderkinds is discrimination, pure and simple. It’s also terrible for business given the skills of older employees and entrepreneurs.

In Fortune’s postmortem about its “40 under 40” list, its editor proposes numerous reasons for the “long list of incredibly powerful women in their early 40s,” pointing to women’s busy early childcare years, as well as the comparatively thin numbers of female entrepreneurs as compared with men. She closes by saying it’s her hope that “one day the 40 under 40 [list] will reach parity.”

Our hope is that Fortune spends a little less time worrying about business leaders’ birthdays when celebrating business leaders. That’s the real problem. And it’s remarkably easy to avoid.


New Fundings

Bicycle Therapeutics, a five-year-old, Cambridge, England-based developer of peptides for use in fighting cancer and other diseases, has raised $31.9 million in new funding from return backers Atlas VentureNovartis Venture Fund, SR One, SV Life Sciences and Astellas Venture Management. The company has now raised around $38 million altogether.

Brainly, a five-year-old, Krakow, Poland-based social learning network designed to help students help each other with schoolwork, has raised $9.4 million in Series A funding led by General Catalyst Partners, with earlier investors Point Nine Capital and Runa Capital participating. Brainly is planning to use part of its fresh capital to open an office in New York City.

Columbia Green Technologies, a Portland, Or.-based maker of so-called green roofs, has closed a combined debt and equity financing round led by Yaletown Venture Partners, along with several existing investors. The size of the round is undisclosed.

Cratejoy, a nearly two-year-old, Austin, Tx.-based company that’s trying to “democratize” subscription business technology, has raised $4 million in Series A funding to launch its platform that companies can use to start their own e-commerce subscription services. CRV led the funding round, which brings the company’s total funding to $6.2 million. Others of its investors include ACE Venture Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, Capital Factory, Maverick Capital, Start Fund, SV Angel and Y Combinator.

DNAtrix, a nine-year-old, San Diego-based oncolytic immunotherapy company, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Morningside Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Mercury Fund and Targeted Technology Fund. The company has now raised roughly $40 million, shows Crunchbase.

Drop, a two-year-old, New York-based company whose interactive recipe platform works with a free app and connected kitchen scale, has raised $2 million in seed funding co-led by Frontline Ventures and Innovation Works, with additional investors including PCH, VegasTechFund and WI Harper Group.

EverTrue, a four-year-old, Boston-based social donor management platform (it helps hundreds of organizations identify alumni and other donors), has raised $8 million in Series B funding led by Bain Capital Ventures, with participation from Silicon Valley Bank. The funding brings the company’s total financing to $14.5 million.

Geofeedia, a three-year-old, Chicago-based company whose software helps organizations filter and analyze geo-tagged social media content in real-time across multiple sources, has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding led by Hyde Park Venture Partners, with Blue Vista VenturesGlade Brook Capital, and numerous individual investors like former ExactTarget CMO Tim Kopp, participating.

Guahao, a four-year-old, Weiji, China-based online medical services platform, has raised more than $100 million led by Tencent Holdings. TechNode has much more here.

Hello Doctor, a nearly two-year-old, Tel Aviv-based mobile application that addresses specific needs of people in complex medical conditions, has raised $700,000 in seed funding from unidentified investors said to come from Google, Facebook and the pharmaceutical industry.

Loopd, a year-old, San Francisco-based company that makes location-tracking tools for conferences, has raised $1 million in seed funding, including from venture capitalist Tim Draper, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Vuclip co-founder Xinhui Niu. TechCrunch has more here.

Minerva Project, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based university that combines online learning with dorm life (students live together and classes are face-to-face, facilitated by faculty on a proprietary live video platform), is raising new $70 million in Series B funding, reports Venture Capital Dispatch. The round is being co-led by TAL Education Group, a China-based, publicly traded tutoring services provider for schoolchildren, along with the venture firm ZhenFund and the private equity investor Yongjin Group. Benchmark, which had provided the company with $25 million in Series A funding in 2012, is also participating in the new round.

Nara Logics, a four-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based artificial intelligence company, has raised $6 million in Series A-2 financing from previous investors and new investors, including .406 Ventures. The company has now raised $13 million in Series A funding, including from the investment advisory firm Account Management of Boston. BostInno has more here.

Orderbird, a 3.5-year-old, Berlin-based company that makes iPad point-of-sales systems for bars, restaurants and clubs, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by ConCardis, with other, undisclosed investors participating. The company has now raised $14.4 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Ozy Media, a two-year-old, Mountain View, Calif.-based online media company, has raised $20 million in Series A funding from German publisher Axel Springer. The company has now raised $25.4 million altogether, including from Ron Conway and Larry Sonsini.

Quantance, a six-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based company whose semiconductors increase the data speed and battery life of mobile devices, has raised $6 million in new fund, according to an SEC filing that lists a $9 million target. The company had previously raised $44.8 million, including from DoCOMo Capital, Granite Ventures, InterWest Partners, and TD Fund, shows Crunchbase.

Rigontec, a 10-month-old, Bonn, Germany-based developer of RNA-based immunotherapeutics used to treat cancer and viral diseases, has raised about $12 million (€9.45 million) in Series A funding co-led by Wellington Partners and Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, with NRW Bank and High-Tech Gründerfonds participating.

Risk I/O, a three-year-old, Chicago-based vulnerability threat management platform, has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding led by Costanoa Venture Capital, with participation from return backers USVP, Tugboat Ventures and Hyde Park Angels. The company has raised $10.5 million to date.

S2C, an 11-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based developer of SoC/ASIC prototyping systems, has raised $4.6 million in Series C funding co-led by GVT Fund and Industrial Technology Investment Corp.

Selecta Biosciences, a six-year-old, Watertown, Ma.-based company that helps make other biologic drugs on the market safer, has raised $20 million from new investors I2BF, Eminent Venture Capital, and an undisclosed backer, along with earlier investors Polaris PartnersFlagship Ventures, OrbiMed Advisors, NanoDimension, Rusnano, and Leukon Investments. The company has now raised $78.6 million altogether. Xconomy has more here.

Thismoment, a 6.5-year-old, San Francisco-based digital marketing company that helps brands distribute user-generated content to engage their customers, has raised $17.6 million in Series D funding from earlier investors Sierra Ventures, Trident Capital and UMC Capital. The company has now raised $52 million to date, shows Crunchbase.


New Funds

Canaan Partners, the 27-year-old venture firm, with offices in the U.S., Israel, and India, has officially filed the paperwork required of its tenth fund. According to an early August report in peHUB, the firm is raising a $600 million fund with a $650 million cap. The firm closed its ninth and most recent fund with $600 million in 2012.

CommonAngels, a Boston-area angel investment group, has closed its fourth fund at $26.5 million, up from its previous, $13 million fund, raised in 2010. Xconomy has more here.

Lightbox, a Mumbai, India-based venture firm, has closed its newest fund with Rs 600 crore. The firm says it was initially targeting $90 million, but raised the target due to increased demand. The Times of India has more here.

Osage University Partners, a Bala Cynwyd, Pa.-based venture firm that focuses on startups that are commercializing university research, is looking to raise up to $200 million for its second fund, according to an SEC filing that shows it has already raised roughly $151 million.

Vintage Investment Partners, an Israel-based investment firm, has closed its latest fund of funds with $144 million of commitments, reports VentureWire, which says that Vintage is moving beyond its near-exclusive focus on Israel and now plans to invest in Israel, the U.S., and Europe.



Henrique De Castro, the former Google advertising executive who joined Yahoo as COO under Marissa Mayer and was later sent packing, $100 million under arm, is on the hunt for a new job, says Business Insider. Reportedly, De Castro has already met with a couple high profile venture capital firms; he’s also interested in joining the board of a startup, or becoming a startup advisor.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and her husband, SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg, are leaning into a new home in Menlo Park, reports the Silicon Valley Business Journal. More here.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is giving $25 million to a foundation tied to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention foundation to fight the spread of Ebola, he announced in a Facebook post yesterday, characterizing the Ebola outbreak as at “a critical turning point.”



Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, a unit of the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, is looking to hire a portfolio manager. The job is in Dallas. (H/T: Iris Dorbian)



Datafox takes a look at the nearly 60 privately held companies now valued at more than $1 billion, breaking them down by top investors, sectors, and more. (If you click through its slideshow, you’ll find a downloadable spreadsheet that the firm has assembled and might be worth saving.)


Essential Reads

Snapchat’s real business plan. Hint, it’s not ads.

Another day, another UberX horror story.

Apple and Facebook now pay for employees wanting to freeze their eggs to help them (work) carve out the (work) lives they want (work). (Kidding. Sort of.)



Stunning architectural photography.

Inside the tallest condo in the Western Hemisphere.

Martha Stewart and Gwyneth Paltrow are going to have to take it outside soon.


Retail Therapy

Put your old iPad to good use. Turn it into a foosball table.

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