StrictlyVC: December 16, 2014

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Thanks very much to those of you signed up yesterday for our inaugural StrictlyVC event, being held on Thursday, February 12th in San Francisco. We’re really excited to host you. (If you missed yesterday’s email, announcing what’s happening, check out our Eventbrite page here.)

In other very good news for readers, Semil Shah — who ran the show here for a couple of weeks this past August — will be taking over StrictlyVC again for the rest of this week and for the week of Dec. 29th. (We’re shutting down the works next week.)

Shah is currently working as a venture advisor to two funds, Bullpen Capital, which focuses on post-seed rounds, and GGV Capital, a cross-border U.S.-Asia fund. He’s also a former TechCrunch columnist and has some terrific content lined up for readers, including interviews with Andy Weissman of Union Square Ventures, Michael Dearing of Harrison Metal, and Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss of Winklevoss Capital, so stay tuned!


Top News in the A.M.

Samsung is now in talks to launch an Apple Pay competitor.

Uber has written back to Senator Al Franken and he’s not entirely satisfied with its note.

WeWork Companies, a 4.5-year-old company that rents office space, then turns it into shared office space (much of it used by tech startups), has raised $355 million at a stunning $5 billion valuation co-led by T. Rowe Price Associates, clients of Wellington Management, and Goldman Sachs Group. Earlier backers J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Harvard Management Co., and Benchmark also participated. The WSJ has much more here.


(Other) New Fundings

Adyen, an eight-year-old, Amsterdam-based multichannel payments company that serves as a middleman between merchants and Facebook, Spotify, Airbnb and many other companies that accept credit cards and various currencies, has raised $250 million in funding. General Atlantic led the round, with participation from earlier backers Temasek, Index Ventures and Felicis Ventures. The company has now raised $266 million altogether. The WSJ has more here.

Annexon Bioscience, a four-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company that’s developing drugs to treat neurodegenerative and autoimmune disorders, has raised $34 million in Series A funding led by Novartis Venture Funds, with participating investors Satter Investment Management, and Clarus Ventures. Annexon spun out of Stanford. The San Francisco Business Times has more here.

Boxbee, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based storage service that provides users with plastic containers that are filled and then picked up and stored by the company, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Metamorphic Ventures, with participation from earlier backers. The company has now raised $7.3 million altogether, including from AngelPadFloodgate Capital, Google Ventures, 500 Startups, Techstars, Ludlow Ventures and individual investors.

Clever, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based education software company that enables schools to quickly sign up and access numerous education apps, all from a single online dashboard, has raised $30 million in new funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backer Sequoia Capital and new backers GSV Capital and Peter Thiel. The company has now raised roughly $43 million altogether.

Dots, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based mobile-gaming company, has raised $10 million in funding from Tencent Holdings, Greycroft PartnersCrunchfund, and Northzone. The company’s two games, “Dots,” and “TwoDots,” have reportedly been downloaded a combined 45 million times.

Foko, a 1.5-year-old, Quebec-based photo sharing and messaging service for corporate workforces, has raised $2 million in seed funding from BDC Capital, Real Ventures and individual investors. The company had previously raised $450,000 in seed funding from individual investors., a 2.5-year-old, Mumbai, India-based online home and rental property portal, has raised $90 million in new funding led bySoftBank Capital, with participation from participation from Falcon Edge Capital and other, undisclosed investors. The company has now raised roughly $140 million altogether, shows Crunchbase. TechCrunch has more here.

Hubba, a two-year-old, Toronto-based company whose online data sharing platform enables retailers to exchange product information, has raised $3.1 million in seed funding from Brightspark, The Social+Capital Partnership, and numerous angel investors.

Infinity Levels, a 1.5-year-old, Bangkok-based gaming startup that originally focused on dating apps, has raised $500,000 in funding from the corporate venture group InVent.

Merchbar, a months-old app that sells official band merchandise (including shirts and vinyl) via a smartphone app and web site, has raised $1 million in seed funding from 500 Startups, Maiden Lane, Structure CapitalUniversal Music Group, and numerous individual investors, including WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, and KISSmetrics co-founder Hiten Shah.

Miyabaobei, a Chinese site that sells formula, clothes, and other items for babies and toddlers, has raised $60 million in Series C funding from H Capital, with participation from returning investors Sequoia Capital and ZhenFund. The company has now raised roughly $100 million altogether,reports TechCrunch.

Neurio Technology, a nine-year-old, Vancouver-based company that was formerly known as Energy Aware Technology and whose in-home technology monitors users’ energy usage, has raised 1.5 million Canadian dollars ($1.3 million) in seed funding from BDC Capital.

OneLogin, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose cloud-based identity and access management software helps companies secure all their users apps on all devices, has raised $25 million in Series C funding led by Scale Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers CRV and The Social+Capital Partnership. The company has now raised $42.7 million altogether.

SurveyMonkey, the 15-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based online survey platform, has raised $250 million in equity financing, some of which is being used to help employees cash out of some of their equity. New investors include T. Rowe Price, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, and Baillie Gifford & Co.; earlier backers participating in the new funding include Google Capital and Tiger Global Management. SurveyMonkey has raised more than $1.2 billion in debt and equity to date.

Talkspace, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based company that runs a marketplace through which therapists can connect with new clients, book appointments, and deliver therapy remotedly, has added $1 million in seed funding from Metamorphic Ventures. Earlier this year, the company raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Metamorphic, SoftBank Capital, and Spark Capital.

Tendril, a 10-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based company that provides a cloud platform to energy service providers for their energy management applications, has raised $20 million from the publicly traded solar panel maker SunPower. The company has now raised $131.2 million over the years.

Virtuos, a 10-year-old, Shanghai, China-based game developer that specializes in 3D art, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series B funding from Shanghai-based Xuhui Venture Capital. The company says it’s one of the largest providers of offshore production services to the game and movie industries.

Yangche Diandian, a 10-month-old, Hangzhou, China-based company whose mobile app platform connect users with car wash, maintenance and repair services, has raised $30 million Series B funding led by GGV Capital. China Money Network has more here.


New Funds

Upfront Ventures, the 18-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based early stage venture firm, has closed on $280 million for its fifth fund, considerably more than the $250 million it stated it was targeting in a November SEC filing. The firm, which was formerly known as GRP Partners and specializes in digital media, retail, and consumer-facing tech startups, closed its most recent fund with $200 million in 2013. Venture Capital Dispatch has much more here.



OnDeck Capital, the seven-year-old, New York-based online lender, will price later today and begin trading tomorrow. Investor’s Business Daily has more here.



The networking company Riverbed Technology has agreed to be acquired for $3.6 billion after being unable to shake a challenge from activist investor Elliot Management, led by Paul Singer. Its new owner will be the private equity firm Thoma Bravo, which is being joined by a Canadian teachers’ pension group. The San Jose Mercury News has morehere.

Skyera, a four-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based enterprise storage company, has been acquired by the Western Digital Corp. subsidiary HGST in an all-cash deal whose terms aren’t being disclosed. Skyera had raised $51.6 million from investors, including Dell Ventures and the venture arm of Western Digital.



Serial entrepreneur and early Etsy investor Caterina Fake is leaving her role as chairwoman of Etsy’s board, telling VentureBeat that she has mixed feeling about the move but that she’ll still “hang out with Etsy employees, wear Etsy clothes, eat from Etsy dishes, play an Etsy guitar, and wash my hair with Etsy shampoo.” Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson is taking over the role.

Investor Vinod Khosla, speaking at an event in Bangalore, India on Friday, told attendees, “Technology is my only religion. It’s the only thing I subscribe to as a belief system in life.” (Incidentally, Khosla has yet to reopen a private road leading to Martins Beach in San Mateo County one week after a judge ordered him to do so. “It’s clear he’s going to take this all the way to the Supreme Court,” said Joe Cotchett, an attorney for the Surfrider Foundation, which sued Khosla over his 2010 decision to bar public access to the beach.)

Did Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer host a raucous holiday party over the weekend that entailed several days of loud construction, a backyard ice-skating rink, and music that was pumped up as midnight approached? An apparent neighbor says she did. (H/T: Katie Benner.)


Job Listings

Johnson & Johnson Innovation, a division of Johnson & Johnson, is looking for a director of new ventures at its new life sciences incubator. The job is in Houston.



CB Insights has just published its 2015 tech IPO pipeline report. You can get a solid overview of its findings, as well as request a free copy of the full report, here.

Crunchbase takes a look at the C.I.A.’s 15-year-old venture arm In-Q-Tel, which has now quietly backed four billion-dollar-plus companies to date: Cloudera, Pure Storage, MongoDB, and Palantir Technologies. More here.


Essential Reads

Unicorns vs. Dragons.” The first features a rich valuation; the second returns a fund.

China has newly allowed insurance companies to invest in venture capital funds. Reuters has more here.



The global conflicts to watch in 2015.

New York magazine’s investing “boy genius” made it all up.

CIA agents assess: How real is “Homeland”?


Retail Therapy

Butter. It costs [cough] $49 a pound but chef Thomas Keller reportedly swears by it.

Truly incredibeards.

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