StrictlyVC: January 23, 2015

It’s Friday, our favorite day of the work week! We don’t have a column today, but we have good things coming your way next week, including a look at a productivity app that you’ll want to keep tabs on, and an interview with Max Ventilla, the founder of the venture-backed, fast-growing AltSchool.

Also, a quick shout-out to all of you who are coming to next month’s sold-out event in San Francisco. We’re super excited to see you. Much thanks, too, to our wonderful sponsors, including Next World Capital, the San Francisco-based international, expansion-stage venture firm that’s generously hosting all of us; Ballou PR, which has offices in London, Paris and Berlin and has helped many a U.S. startup get established in Europe; and Standish Management, a San Francisco-based fund administration services company that helps hundreds of private equity, VC and fund-of-funds firms with their financial reporting, partnership accounting, and lots more.


Top News in the A.M.

The cloud storage company Box finally hit the public market today, after pricing its IPO last night at $14 a share. It’s already up 50 percent this morning, too.

Apple schmapple? GoPro says its cameras are coming to the NHL in its first official partnership with a professional sports league.


New Fundings

Ascentis, a 31-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based company that makes HR and online payroll processing software, has raised $7 million in Series C funding led by earlier backer Catalyst Investors. The company has raised at least $10.3 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Antuit, an 18-month-old, Singapore-based big data startup focused on supply chain management, has raised $56 million in funding led by Goldman Sachs, with participation from earlier backer Zodius Capital, an India-based firm. The company has now raised $59 million to date.

BlueVine, a year-old, Palo Alto-based small business financing startup, has raised $18.5 million in Series B funding co-led by earlier backers Lightspeed Venture Partners and 83North (f.k.a. Greylock IL, an affiliate of Greylock Partners). The company has now raised $24 million altogether, including from Correlation Ventures, Kreos Capital, and Kima Ventures.

Calysta Energy, a 3.5-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based company that’s developing a new, biological gas-to-liquids and gas-to-chemicals technology using natural gas, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Walden Riverwood Ventures and Aqua-Spark, a Netherlands-based firm focused on sustainable aquaculture investments. Other participants included Pangaea Ventures. The company has now raised $18 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

CloudHeath, a 2.5-year-old, Boston, Ma.-based IT service management software that helps companies manage the health of their clouds, has raised $12 million in Series B funding led by Scale Venture Partners, with participation from .406 Ventures and Sigma Prime Ventures. The company has now raised roughly $20 million altogether.

CodeHS, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that produces programs for teaching coding to high-school students, has raised $1.75 million in funding from Chmod Ventures, Kapor Capital, Learn CapitalNewSchools Venture Fund, Seven Peaks Ventures, StartX, and individual investors. The company had previously raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding in October 2012.

Hopscotch, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based e-commerce portal for Indian moms, has raised $11 million in Series B funding from Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin and Velos Partners, with participation from Rise Capital, Jabbar Internet Group, and earlier backers, including Singapore-based Lionrock Capital and Skype cofounder Toivo Annus. Founders Rahul Anand and Lisa Kennedy are HBS alums who previously worked together at Hopscotch, part of a holding company in Great Neck called Hit the Mark, has now raised $15 million to date.

The League, an eight-month-old, San Francisco-based dating app intended to be more selective than Tinder, has raised $2.1 million in seed funding from IDG Ventures, and Sherpa Ventures, along with a long list of angel investors and one undisclosed venture fund. TechCrunch has more here.

Plum Print, a 2.5-year-old, Asheville, N.C. startup that prints up photo books of childrens’ artwork so their artwork-besieged parents can keep a record of it all, has raised $1 million in seed funding led by Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, with the participation of angel investors.

Poka, a 1.5-year-old, Quebec-based company that’s developing a social platform for manufacturing companies, has raised $2.5 million in funding led by iNovia Capital, with participation from SoftTech VC.

Saltside Technologies, a four-year-old, Gothenburg, Sweden-based company that creates online marketplaces in emerging markets, has raised $40 million in Series C funding led by Hillhouse Capital, with participation from Brummer & Partners and earlier backer AB Kinnevik. The company has now raised $65 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

SceneDoc, a 3.5-year-old, Milton, Pa.-based company whose smartphone and tablet-based software gives public safety personnel a secure means of documenting crime, accident and other incident scenes, has raised $4 million in Series A funding from iGan Partners, Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, and unnamed angel investors. The company has raised $6 million to date

Tactus Technology, a 6.5-year-old, Fremont, Ca.-based maker of tactile touch-screen technology, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series B funding led by new backer IPV Capital of China. The company says that it has now raised roughly $30 million.


New Funds

Eniac Ventures, a six-year-old, New York-based seed-stage firm that has backed more than 60 mobile tech startups, has closed its third fund with $55 million, more than four times the size of its last fund. Hits like Airbnb, Twitter, and SoundCloud have helped, notes VentureBeat. More here.

Orange, the French carrier, is launching a new fund called Digital Ventures that will begin with a budget of €20 million ($23 million). TechCrunch has more details here.



Syndax Pharmaceuticals, a venture-backed biotechnology company, has withdrawn its registration, according to an SEC form filed yesterday. According to Dow Jones VentureSource, biotech companies have been going public at a record rate, with 58 related IPOs last year and 14 U.S. venture-backed companies in registration currently.



Amazon is acquiring Annapurna Labs, an Israeli startup that designs networking chips to help make data centers run more efficiently, the company has confirmed. The price isn’t being disclosed, but as we noted in yesterday’s newsletter, the amount cited by Israeli media outlets is $350 million.

Harman International Industries is buying two software companies for $950 million that will help enable over-the-air computer updates in cars. It’s paying $780 million for 12-year-old Symphony Teleca Corp. of Mountain View, Ca., which provides integration services, and $170 million for 16-year-old Red Bend Software of Waltham, Ma., which specializes in software for connected devices.



Entrepreneur Stewart Butterfield gives Fortune a candid account of why he successfully pushed for Slack, his collaborative software company, to be valued at $1 billion when it was just eight months old. It wasn’t because of spreadsheets or public comps “obviously,” he says. “It means we’re a part of that conversation about companies worth $1 billion . . . One billion is better than $800 million because it’s the psychological threshold for potential customers, employees, and the press.”

Orkut Buyukkoten, the famed Google engineer and now cofounder and CEO of the social network Hello, talks with local San Francisco magazine 7×7 with his significant other, Derek Holbrook, in a feature on “power couples.” (It’s a sweet piece, despite the set-up.) Says Holbrook, himself a former Google engineer, of their first kiss: “It was after our first date, which lasted 11 hours. I wasn’t sure if Orkut was gay or just European, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.”

Author Ben Casnocha, has published an interesting rundown of what he learned by spending 10,000 hours over the course of four years with LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, with whom he wrote The Startup of You.

Good Eggs, a three-year-old, organic food delivery startup backed by roughly $30 million from Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures, has laid off 15 percent of its workforce. TechCrunch has the story here.

With the help of engineers from top hedge funds, renowned bitcoin investors Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are creating the first regulated bitcoin exchange for U.S. customers, betting the currency will “rise again if it follows the same playbook as the more established financial industry,” writes Dealbook. (The brothers talked with StrictlyVC about their unwavering support of bitcoin earlier this month.)



Touchdown Ventures is hiring. The months-old firm, which helps corporations establish their own venture capital units by handling everything from sourcing deals to managing investments, is looking to bring on an associate in San Francisco and a part-time MBA intern in Philadelphia.


Essential Reads

Details about the battery life of the Apple Watch revealed . . . to be not so great.

Andreessen Horowitz‘s partners explain 16 trends of interest.



How to nap like you mean it.

“I paid $25 for an Invisible Boyfriend, and I think I might be in love.”


Retail Therapy

The Strop: it allegedly extends the life of your razor by three to five times.

Cool magazine racks. (You still read magazines, right?)

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