StrictlyVC: January 9, 2015

Happy Friday, everyone! No column today (busy week), but we hope the intel below is useful.

Also, a quick note that there are suddenly less than 10 seats left for our first event, happening next month in San Francisco. If we run out of tickets, we’ll happily put you on our wait list and let you know if anything opens up. (Worth noting: We’re hoping to plan another Bay Area event soon. We’re also hosting an evening event at the Boston offices of OpenView Venture Partners in late spring. More on that soon.)

Have a great weekend and we’ll see you Monday.:)


Top News in the A.M.

Box is going public sooner than you might have guessed. This morning, the online data storage provider disclosed plans to raise up to $162.5 million in its IPO, via shares priced at between $11 and $13. At the midpoint of that range, notes Dealbook, Box will be valued at about $1.4 billion — far less than the $2.4 billion valuation the company fetched when it raised its latest round of private funding in July, led by TPG Growth andCoatue Management.

Twitter is planning to unveil its new video product in the next few weeks and it may have a 20-second time limit, says Recode.


New Fundings

Atlas RFID, an eight-year-old, Birmingham, Al.-based maker of auto-ID based tracking systems for the construction industry, has raised an undisclosed amount funding from Kayne Partners, the growth equity group of Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors.

AveXis, a four-year-old, Dallas-based gene therapy company focused on treating severe genetic and orphan diseases like spinal muscular atrophy, has raised $10 million in funding led by Deerfield Management and Roche Venture Fund.

Hua Medicine, a Shanghai, China-based drug development company at work on an oral diabetes therapy, has raised $25 million in Series B funding from new investors Ally Bridge Group, Frontline BioVenturesand TF Capital. Earlier backers ARCH Venture Partners, VenrockFidelity Biosciences, WuXi Ventures and SAIL also joined the round.

Miracor Medical Systems, a 6.5-year-old, Vienna, Austria-based medical device firm behind a pressure-controlled coronary sinus occlusion technology for heart patients, has raised €4.5 million ($5.3 million) in Series B funding from BioMedInvest, aws Founders Fund, and earlier backers Earlybird Venture Capital, Delta Partners and SHS.

Mister Spex, a seven-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based online eyewear business, has raised $40 million in new funding led by Goldman Sachs, with participation from return backers Scottish Equity Partners, XAnge and DN Capital. The company has now raised $69.7 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Reach | influence, an eight-year-old, Royal Oak, Mi.-based retail analytics company, has raised $5 million in funding led by Vineyard Capital Group, with participation from Detroit Venture Partners.

Rethink Robotics, a 6.5-year-old, Boston-based company that develops robots for production and research environments, has raised $26.6 million in Series D financing led by GE Ventures, with additional participation from Goldman Sachs. Rethink Robotics’ earlier investors also joined the round, including Bezos Expeditions, CRV, Highland Capital PartnersSigma Partners, DFJ, and Two Sigma Ventures. The company has now raised roughly $100 million altogether.

RetroSense Therapeutics, a 5.5-year-old, Ann Arbor, Mi.-based company that’s investigating the use of gene therapy and optogenetics to restore vision loss, has raised $6 million in Series A funding from Nerveda, Blue Water Angels, SDL Ventures, Tech Coast Angels, and Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Samba Networks, a year-old, London-based mobile video ad network, has raised £250,000 ($377,000) in seed funding from Digicel and numerous angel investors, reports TechCrunch. The company has raised roughly $600,000 altogether so far.

Seismic Software, a 3.5-year-old, Solana Beach, Ca.-based maker of cloud-based sales software, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by JMI Equity, with participation from earlier backer Sigma West. The company has now raised $24.5 million.

Surface Oncology, a 1.5-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based company that’s developing antibody therapies to combat cancer, has raised $35 million in Series A funding from Fidelity Biosciences, Lilly Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, and Atlas Venture, which initially seeded the company. Other participants in the round include Amgen Ventures,Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research, and Elliott Sigal, a former head of R&D at Bristol Myers Squibb.

Trevi Therapeutics, a 3.5-year-old, New Haven, Ct.-based clinical development company focused on treating chronic pruritus conditions, has secured a $15 million senior loan from Solar Capital and Square 1 Bank. The company has now raised $47.6 million across three funding rounds, shows Crunchbase.

Vascular Dynamics, a 6.5-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based medical device company whose implantable stent-like devices treat hypertension, has raised $8.4 million in a Series B round that’s expected to reach $16.9 million. The funding was led by HBM Healthcare Investments, with earlier backers Rainbow Medical, the MedFocus Funds, and an undisclosed existing investor participating. To date, the company has raised $23 million altogether.

Welltok, a 5.5-year-old, Denver-based company whose “health optimization” software tries providing an engaging way for consumers to get involved in their health, has raised $37 million in Series D funding, including from Hearst Health Ventures and Catholic Health Initiatives. Others of the company’s backers include Bessemer Venture Partners,Qualcomm, IBM Corp., Emergence Capital Partners, InterWest Partners, Miramar Venture Partners, Okapi Venture Capital and New Enterprise Associates. The company has now raised $85 million altogether.


New Funds

Fountain Healthcare, a 6.5-year-old, life science venture capital fund based in Dublin, Ireland, has raised €85 million ($100.8 million) for its second fund, which is targeting €125 million ($148 million). The firm now has €158 million under management. Fountain focuses on specialty pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices and diagnostics and says it intends to invest more than three-quarters of its new capital to European startups, with the balance committed to U.S. companies. The Irish Times has more here.

Insight Venture Partners, the New York-based growth-equity investor, is raising its ninth fund and has so far received $2 billion in commitments, according to SEC filings first flagged by VentureWire. The New York firm has a pair of offerings: Insight Venture Partners IX LP has closed on $1.51 billion so far; and Insight Venture Partners (Cayman) IX LP has raised $596 million.



Ariosa Diagnostics, a four-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based maker of a DNA test for pregnant women, has withdraw plans to go public following an announcement that it will be acquired by Roche of Basel, Switzerland, the world’s largest biotech company. Terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed. Ariosa had raised $52.7 million in Series C funding fromDomain Associates, Meritech Capital Partners, and Venrock in 2012. (It isn’t immediately clear how much it had raised altogether.)

NetProspex, an eight-year-old, Waltham, Ma.-based firm specializing in managing a vast database of professional contacts, has been acquired for $125 million by the data and analytics firm Dun & Bradstreet. The company has raised at least $27.5 million from investors over the years, including Spring Lake Equity Partners and Edison Partners.



Early last year, David Baazov walked into the Manhattan offices of the Blackstone Group with an outrageous plan to stage the $4.9 billion purchase of PokerStars, the world’s biggest online poker company. Baazov, the son of a construction worker, was tossed on the street, but he’s now laughing all the way to the bank, reports Forbes, which profiles this new “king of online gambling.”

Web TV startup Aereo lost its day in court. But its founder and CEO, Chet Kanojia, isn’t crying into his coffee, apparently. According to Recode, Kanojia and a handful of Aereo veterans are now working on “Project Decibel,” a Boston-based company that Recode’s sources describe as a lab for Kanojia and his former engineers to work on new ideas and technology. More here.

Dave McClure‘s fund and startup incubator 500 Startups has “raised capital from plenty of supporters around the world. But there’s one group that continues to shun Mr. McClure’s efforts — U.S. institutional investors,” reports VentureWire’s Yuliya Chernova. “‘The institutional folks, they generally don’t like what we are doing. They think what we are doing is crazy. And I’m having a hard time convincing them that we are not full of s—,’” McClure tells her.

John Pedersen is the new CEO of venture-backed Augmenix, a Waltham, Ma.-based company that’s developing minimally invasive hydrogel products to improve outcomes following cancer radiotherapy. Pedersen was formerly a senior health-care adviser for Gores Group and Pritzker Group and president of the Urology and Women’s Health Division at Boston Scientific Corp.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently took to the question-and-answer site Quora to answer how often she and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg meet and for how long. Her reply: “Mark and I meet for an hour on Monday morning and then again for an hour on Friday afternoon.” (They have since she joined seven years ago, she added.)

John Solomon, a former senior VP with Hewlett-Packard’s printing and personal systems group, has been hired by Apple to run sales of its products to large corporations, and he may take on a role involving international sales of the forthcoming Apple Watch, reports Recode.

Following InterMune’s $8.3 billion October sale to Roche, the company’s former president and CEO, Dan Welch, has joined Sofinnova Ventures as an “executive partner.” San Francisco Business Times has more here.


Job Listings

Yahoo is looking to hire a corporate development associate. The job is in Sunnyvale, Ca.



Every quarter, SharesPost takes a stab at the venture-backed private companies that it considers the most promising, based on their revenue growth, product stage, management team and venture investor quality. Here are the 100 companies it sees as ahead of their peers right now.


Essential Reads

Uber just cut its prices in 48 markets.



Malcolm Gladwell dissects Steven Brill’s account of how health-care reform went wrong.

Incredible photos taken by the U.S. Army last year.



Retail Therapy

Zombie toothpicks.

Wax seal magnets.

Campervan bunk bed. [Ta dah!]

Filed Under:

Don’t Miss Out!

Sign up today to receive a free daily email with everything you need to start your day. Plus, keep track of the companies and personalities that will shape the industry in the months and years to come. Let StrictlyVC be your very own venture capital concierge.

StrictlyVC on Twitter