StrictlyVC: November 26, 2014

It is Wednesday, woot! In observance of Thanksgiving, we’ll be shutting down the works until Monday. Before we go, we’d like to say thank you, so much, for reading and helping us to grow StrictlyVC. We hope you have a wonderful long weekend.

(P.S.: No column today. Also, web visitors, this version is easier to read than what you see below.)


Top News in the A.M.

Uber, the 5.5-year-old mobile car-booking company, is closing in a round of funding that would value it at between an astonishing $35 billion to $40 billion, according to Bloomberg sources. T. Rowe Price Group is reportedly in the mix, though that could change, says Bloomberg, whose sources expect Uber to raise at least $1 billion. The company has raised $1.5 billion to date.


New Fundings

Appear Here, a two-year-old, London-based online marketplace for short-term retail space rentals (it accommodates pop-up stores), has raised $7.5 million in new funding led by Balderton Capital. Earlier backers MMC Ventures, Forward Partners, and the real estate investment fund Meyer Bergman also took part in the round, which brings the company’s funding to $9.4 million.

Cell Medica, an eight-year-old, London-based cellular immunotherapy company, has raised £50 million ($78.5 million) in Series B funding, including from Imperial Innovations, Invesco Perpetual and Woodford Investment Management. The company has now raised $118 million across five funding rounds, shows Crunchbase.

Elara Technologies, a 3.5-year-old, Singapore-based company that runs, an Indian real estate platform, has raised $30 million from News Corp. in exchange for a 25 percent stake in its business. Earlier investors SAIF Partners, Accel Partners and Horizen Ventures also participated in the round. The company has now raised roughly $44 million altogether, says the Economic Times.

Experiment Engine, a 10-month-old, Austin, Tx.-based A/B testing platform, has raised $1 million in seed funding from Founder Collective and Mercury Fund, along with individual investors.

Flipkart, the seven-year-old, Bangalore, India-based e-commerce giant, has raised another $600 million just months after raising $1 billion, reports the Economic Times. Earlier backers, including Tiger Global Management, Naspers and DST Global, have each poured $50 million to $100 million into the new round, with a new, undisclosed investor, “chipping in a nominal amount,” says the Economic Times. Flipkart has now raised nearly $2.5 billion dollars altogether.

Grabyo, a 1.5-year-old, London-based video platform that partners with TV broadcasters to allow TV viewers to legally share real-time clips of their content, has raised $2 million in funding from a global group of sports starts, including Premier League soccer stars Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie and NBA player Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs.

Harry’s, a three-year-old, New York-based company that mails shaving cream, razors, and “German-engineered” blades to customers, has raised a new round of “about $75 million” from an unknown group of investors,reports The Deal. The company’s earlier backers include Thrive CapitalLakestar Capital, Box Group, SV Angel, Red Swan Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, and Tiger Global Management. The round brings the company’s total funding to $211 million, shows Crunchbase.

Higher Learning Technologies, a 2.5-year-old, Coralville, Ia.-based company that makes customized digital test prep programs, has raised $5.5 million in Series A funding led by a group of angel investors in New York. The company had raised $1 million in seed funding earlier this year.

Inzen, a two-year-old, Singapore-based mobile game developer, has raised about $748,000 in Series A funding led by Japan’s Incubate Fund, with participation from China’s Global Mobile Game Confederation and returning investors Hatcher and Hans De Back, among others. To date, the company has raised roughly $1.2 million. More here.

Jumia, a two-year-old, Nigeria-based e-commerce player in Africa, has raised €120 million ($150 million) in new funding from Africa Internet Group at a $555 million valuation. In 2013, the Rocket Internet-incubated company had raised $35 million and $26 million in separate rounds from Millicom International Cellular and Summit Partners, respectively. More here.

Mobilize, a nearly two-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose community-management platform helps businesses mobilize members, freelancers, and other stakeholders into action, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding led by Hillsven Capital, with participation from UpWest Labs and Eddy Shalev., a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that sells written content on demand, has raised $9 million in Series B funding led by Storm Ventures, with participation from earlier investors Crosslink Capital and Redpoint Ventures. Angel investors Gil Penchina, Auren Hoffman, and Justin Moore also participated.

SimilarWeb, a five-year-old, London-based mobile measurement service, has raised $15 million in Series D funding from earlier backers Naspers and angel investor Lord David Alliance. The company has now raised $40 million in total funding. TechCrunch has more here.

VigLink, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based platform for monetizing content-driven commerce for publishers, bloggers, forums, social networks and apps, has added roughly $2 million from Foundry Group and Costanoa Venture Capital to a now $20 million Series C round. VigLink has now raised $27.3 million altogether, including from Correlation Ventures, Google Ventures, First Round Capital, Emergence Capital Partners, and RRE Ventures. It also just acquired a company. (See “Exits.”)

Wealth-X, a 4.5-year-old, Singapore-based curator of research on ultra high-net-worth individuals, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Insight Venture Partners. The round appears to represent the company’s first institutional financing.

Yomp, a four-year-old, London-based gamification platform designed to boost employee health and well-being, has raised $315,000 in seed funding led by London-based angel investors.

YPlan, a two-year-old, London-based event discovery app that helps people find things to do and a way to buy tickets, has raised $24 million in Series B funding led by previous backers Octopus InvestmentsWellington Partners, and General Catalyst Partners. The company has now raised $38 million altogether. As part of its new funding, the company has laid off a number of its direct sales employees and is now building out a new DIY platform. TechCrunch has the story here.


New Funds

Artis Ventures, a 13-year-old, San Francisco-based early stage venture fund, has raised nearly $52 million for a fund called Artis Ventures II that it began raising last year, shows a new SEC filing. The firm also recently raised a special purpose vehicle called Artis Juicy SPV that we reported on earlier this month. Artis famously invested in YouTube before its acquisition by Google. Its more recent bets include Practice Fusion, a company that offers doctors cloud-based electronic medical records software, and the in vitro meat producer Modern Meadow.

DAG Ventures, the 23-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based venture capital firm, is looking to raise a new, $300 million fund, shows an SEC filing that states that the first sale has yet to occur. The firm had targeted a much larger pool — $500 million — for its fifth fund in 2011. No word on what the firm ultimately raised for that vehicle. It had raised $451 million for its fourth fund in 2008.

Keiretsu Forum, a San Francisco-based network of angel investors, is launching a business accelerator called Keiretsu Ventures. More here.

MediaTek, Taiwan’s largest chip designer, will invest roughly $50 million in a Chinese government fund. MediaTek’s planned investment comes as China’s chip industry is expected to outpace global growth during the rest of this decade. The company is aiming to catch up with Qualcomm in China’s smartphone chip business, where Qualcomm has about half of the market. The EE Times has more here.



Boston Business Journal profiles Altiostar, a well-funded, 200-person startup that’s just emerging from stealth mode — and already has its sights on an IPO.

Zalando, the large online-only fashion retailer that went public last month on the Frankfurt stock exchange, says it’s on track to make its first annual profit this year. The Financial Times has more here.



BranchOut, a 4.5-year-old, San Francisco-based professional network service that once flourished on Facebook’s platform, is being acquire by 1-Page, an Australian company that sells cloud-based human resources technology, for $2 million in cash, plus stock worth around $4.7. BranchOut had raised $49 million from investors, including Floodgate, Mayfield Fund, Accel Partners, Redpoint Ventures, and Norwest Venture Partners.

LinkSmart, a five-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based real-time bidding engine for brands and marketers to programmatically connect their content with publishers, has been acquired by the startup VigLink for an undisclosed amount. LinkSmart had raised $9.7 million from investors, including Costanoa Venture Capital and Foundry Group (which just joined VigLink’s newest round).



Whoa. Netflix says former executive Mike Kail collected around $500,000 in kickbacks from vendors he helped connect to the streaming video company. Now Netflix is suing Kail, who was appointed Yahoo’s chief information officer in August. (Quel scandale.) Recode has the story here.

Oops: After threatening hacker Fidel Salinas with 440 years, prosecutors have settled for a misdemeanor. Wired has more here.

NBC Universal network SyFy ha green-lit a new, six-episode series that will follow teams of startups through two Silicon Valley accelerator programs: 500 Startups and Highway 1. Let’s hope it isn’t as intensely boring as it sounds (no offense to the participants intended).

Vladimir Vapnik, credited with coming up with the first support vector machine (SVM) algorithm, has joined Facebook. SVMs are widely used today for machine learning purposes. VentureBeat has more here.

Can’t get enough of Mark Zuckerberg? You are in luck. Facebook has scheduled another public Q&A with him on December 11 at 2 pm. PST.



Tumblr has overtaken Instagram as the fastest-growing social platform in the world, and Snapchat is the fastest-growing app, according to new research from the Global Web Index. TechCrunch has more here.

San Francisco’s “ultra-rich” population jumped 12 percent this year, pushing it past Los Angeles as the California home to the most residents worth $30 million or more. The survey, by the research firm Wealth-X in partnership with Swiss banking giant UBS, says San Francisco has 5,460 ultra-rich residents, up from 4,840 a year ago. Los Angeles has 5,135, up 4 percent from 4,945.


Job Listings

Andreessen Horowitz still appears to be in the market for both a consumer and an enterprise partner.


Essential Reads

Twitter introduces “Offers” to drive online, and offline, shopping.

Betaworks introduces Homescreen, an app that looks a lot like Max Levchin’s Homer, which came out of the gate to much enthusiasm in August, then floundered.

How startups are transforming major cities, in time-lapse maps.



The hipster business name generator. (H/T: GMSV)

Terrible predictions. (H/T: Chris Dixon)

What surfing at 1000 frames per second looks like.

Another reason to feel thankful this week: You probably weren’t one of these people.


Retail Therapy

The unofficial Goldman Sachs holiday gift guide for 2014.

Thanksgiving travelers are expected to put away nearly 1 million Cinnabons between today and Sunday. If you think this might describe you, we wish you safe travels and good luck.:)

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