StrictlyVC: January 27, 2015

Happy Tuesday, dear readers. (Hope you’re holding up in New England; we’re thinking of you.)

By the way, a few of you let us know you’d found yesterday’s email in your spam folder. Perhaps it was all the exclamation points! If you missed your issue, you can check it out here.


Top News in the A.M.

You can now post videos and send group messages on Twitter.

The Waze mobile traffic app by Google can also be used to hunt and harm police, say some in law enforcement, who want Google to disable users’ ability to notify other users about nearby police. As notes the Associated Press, the “growing concern is the latest twist in Google’s complicated relationship with government and law enforcement.”

Yahoo will report its newest earnings after today’s market close.


Pushbullet, Beloved by Users, Shoots for Fresh Funding

Pushbullet, a San Francisco-based, six-person software startup whose free app makes it easy for users move notifications, links, and files between devices, is announcing $1.5 million in seed funding from General Catalyst Partners, SV Angel, Alexis Ohanian, Garry Tan, Paul Buchheit, and other angel investors.

It’s in the market again, too. As is often the case with today’s startups, Pushbullet is announcing a round that came together some time ago – 10 months ago in this case – as a way to kind of raise its flag. Says founder Ryan Oldenburg, a former Android developer at Hipmunk who formed Pushbullet with several former Hipmunk colleagues: “We don’t need a giant round to power a sales force – just a standard Series A. Everyone here has two jobs and I’d like to start making that not be the case anymore.”

VCs could certainly do worse. Since launching in 2013, Pushbullet says it has distributed “tens of millions” of notifications and transferred hundreds of thousands of links, files, and text snippets across users’ various devices, garnering rave reviews from CNet, Wired, and LifeHacker in the process. Just this morning, GigaOm described it as “one of those rare apps where, once you start using it, you’ll likely begin wondering how you lived without it for so long.”

Now, it’s a matter of raising user awareness, preferably before Apple and Google find other ways to better tie together their operating systems across devices. (With Pushbullet ranked far below the most downloaded productivity apps, according to both AppAnnie and Android Rank, the race is on.) We talked with Oldenburg about the company last week.

What compelled you to start Pushbullet?

It started about a year-and-a-half ago. I had a smart phone, but as a programmer, I spent a lot of time working on computers, which traditionally didn’t work with smart phones, nor did anyone think they should. As a result, people were doing odd things, like emailing themselves to get their files on their phone. A world where people have both smart phones and tablets is great, but nobody had been acknowledging the opportunity to make it much better.

How did you know you’d struck on something?

It was just a side project, but it had an unexpectedly awesome reception. The first 15,000 [users] signed up within a couple of weeks without any PR. I just submitted it to Reddit and it struck a nerve.

You then headed to Y Combinator. What did the program do for you?

Y Combinator has a way of making you feel not good enough and like you have to work 10 times harder – which isn’t a bad thing. If you’re the right person [to lead a startup], it makes you want to do what it takes to grow beyond tens of thousands of users to tens of millions. It got us to think much bigger.

How much bigger? Will we see an enterprise version of Pushbullet?

At this point, we’re focused on building it for consumers. But as we get later stage, this [technology] is definitely something that will fit into enterprises and [where we’ll probably get the most financial support]. Dropbox [straddles] both worlds, too, and that model works for us.


New Fundings

3Scan, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based company that’s focused on new technologies for pathology, including a “knife edge scanning microscope” that sections and images tissue samples, has raised $6.67 million in Series A funding led by Lux Capital.

Beckon, a four-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based company that makes analytics software for marketers, has raised $13 million in new funding led by Venrock, with participation from earlier backers August Capital and Canaan Partners. The company has now raised $23 million to date. (StrictlyVC talked with CEO and cofounder Jenny Zeszut last year about what it’s like when things don’t go as planned.)

CaratLane, a 7.5-year-old, Chennai, India-based online jewelry store, has raised $31 million in Series D funding from earlier backer Tiger Global Management. CaratLane has raised roughly $52 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

CloudBees, a 4.5-year-old, Los Altos, Ca.-based company that’s focused on the “continuous delivery” market in which developers make their code ready to deploy at all times instead of in fixed release cycles, has raised $23.5 million in Series D funding led by earlier backer Lightspeed Venture Partners. Other participants in this round include previous investors Matrix Partners, Verizon Ventures, and Blue Cloud Ventures. The company has now raised $51.2 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

Colu, a new, Tel Aviv-based bitcoin blockchain platform and upcoming consumer app, has raised $2.5 million in funding led by Aleph and Spark Capital, with participation from BoxGroup and Bitcoin Opportunity Corp. Venture Capital Dispatch takes a longer look at the company here.

Curiyo, a 4.5-year-old, Jerusalem-based company whose software enhances online articles with links that direct readers to related facts, has raised just less than $1 million in new funding from new and existing investors, including the crowdfunding platform OurCrowd, former Thomson Reuters CEO Tom Glocer, and Techra Investments. The company had previously raised $1.9 million in seed funding.

Dizzion, a 3.5-year-old, Denver, Co.-based company whose cloud-based service allows users to access their desktop applications and data from any device, has raised $3.9 million in Series A funding co-led by Access Venture Partners and Grotech Ventures, with participation from Correlation Ventures, Point B Capital and the new venture outfit Service Provider Capital. The company has raised $4.6 million to date, shows Crunchbase., a 6.5-year-old, Shanghai, China-based food delivery service, has raised $350 million in Series E funding from CITIC, Tencent Holdings,,, and Sequoia Capital. Tencent, which owns stakes in both and, looks to be playing catch-up with this deal, suggests TechCrunch, which notes that its biggest rivals, Alibaba and Baidu, already have investments in food delivery services (Meituan and Nuomi, respectively).

EnGene, a 15-year-old, Montreal-based company that’s been developing a mucosal immunotherapy platform to deliver genes to cells lining the gastrointestinal tract, has raised $10.8 million in Series B funding led by Forbion Capital Partners, with participation from new investors Pharmstandard International and Quebec’s Fonds de solidarité FTQ. Earlier backer Lumira Capital also participated in the round. The company has raised at least $31.2 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Fuse, a 3.5-year-old, Oslo, Norway-based mobile app development platform, has raised $2.8 million in new funding led by Northzone. The company, which recently opened an office in Palo Alto, Ca., has now raised $7 million altogether, it says.

MoFang, a two-year-old, Beijing, China-based mobile game media platform, has raised RMB100 million ($16 million) in Series A funding led by Shenzhen Capital Group, reports China Money Network. Earlier backer Matrix Partners also joined the round.

Research Now, an 11-year-old, Plano, Tx.-based digital data collection provider, has a new shareholder in Court Square Capital Partners, after it acquired its stake from shareholders TA Associates, Polaris Partners, and Sutter Hill Ventures. More here.

Roadie, a nine-month-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based startup whose mobile app helps connect people who have stuff to ship with neighbors and other drivers already heading in that direction, has raised $10 million from investors, including UPS Strategic Enterprise FundTomorrowVentures, and individual investors, including Warren Stephens, chairman and CEO of the boutique investment bank Stephens, and Square co-founder Jim Mckelvey. Roadie was founded by Marc Gorlin, who also cofounded the six-year-old online lending company Kabbage.

Scout RFP , a two-year-old, Cleveland, Oh.-based cloud-based project-bidding platform, has raised $2.75 million in seed funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from Google Ventures, Zapis Capital, and numerous angel investors, including former LivingSocial CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy.

Starcounter, an 8.5-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based company behind a high performance database for real-time transactional applications, has raised $1.8 million in funding, most of it from Industrifonden.

USGI Medical, a 14-year-old, San Clemente, Ca.-based company that’s developing incision-less procedures for weight loss, has raised more than $19.5 million in equity and debt. Earlier, unnamed investors contributed the equity portion of the financing. Meanwhile, GE Capital and Healthcare Financial Services provided the company with a senior secured debt facility, with East West Bank participating as a syndicate partner.

Xenex Disinfection Services, a six-year-old, San Antonio, Tx.-based maker of robotic pesticide devices designed to kill germs in hospitals, has raised $25 million in new funding from new investor Brandon Point Industries, along with earlier backers Battery Ventures, Targeted Technology Fund, and RK Ventures. The company has raised $36.3 million to date, shows Crunchbase.


New Funds

A new secondary player has officially emerged on the scene: New York-based Manhattan Venture Partners, a merchant bank “focused on the emerging secondary market for late-stage private technology companies.” More here.

Partech Ventures, the 33-year-old, Paris-based venture firm, has closed its newest fund with 200 million euros ($224 million), from LPs that include the state-owned bank BPI France; insurers CNP Assurances and AG2R La Mondiale; the French IT services group Ingenico; the carmakerRenault; and Europe’s largest retailer, Carrefour. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.



Zosano Pharma, a 8.5-year-old, Fremont, Ca.-based maker of transdermal delivery patches that treat severe osteoporosis, has increased the proposed size of its offering. According to a filing yesterday, the company now plans to raise $47 million via 4.3 million shares priced at between $10 and $12, up from 3 million shares at the same range. Zosano first filed to raise $70 million at a $139 million market cap last July but postponed the offering amid a then-shaky market. The company’s biggest outside shareholders include BioMed Realty, which owns 45.5 percent of the company; and New Enterprise Associates, which owns 38.8 percent.



American Healthcare Lending, a Sandy, Ut.-based network that gives doctors and other healthcare providers the ability to offer loans to patients for elective medical procedures at their offices, has been acquired by the online lending company Prosper Marketplace for $21 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Code School, a four-year-old, Orlando, Fl.-based online learning platform that teaches programming and web design skills, has been acquired by the online IT training company Pluralsight for $36 million. More on Code School, which appears to have been bootstrapped, here. And here, more on its acquisition in Wired.

Pixelapse, a four-year-old, Palo Alto-based startup that offers version control and other collaboration tools for designers, has been acquired by cloud storage company Dropbox for undisclosed terms. Pixelapse had been incubated by Y Combinator and StartX and had raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding, including from Spark Capital.



New York Times reporter Nick Bilton is at work on a book about the black-market bazaar Silk Road, and 20th Century Fox has already acquired the rights to a film based on it. Bilton’s last book, the best-seller “Hatching Twitter,” was published in 2013.

Osuke Honda, who joined DCM Ventures in 2007, has been promoted to general partner at the firm. Honda was among the earlier investors in the mobile social network Gree. StrictlyVC talked with Honda last fall about the evolving startup scene in Japan.


Job Listings

Venture-backed Coinbase, which opened the first licensed bitcoin exchange in the U.S. yesterday, is looking to hire a VP of finance. The job is in San Francisco.


Essential Reads

Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer, will cut its massive workforce, as the Apple supplier faces declining revenue growth and rising wages in China.



The fight to save Japan’s young shut-ins.

Scenes from New York’s empty, snowy streets.

The newest chapter of Deflategate has the NFL interviewing a locker room attendant who allegedly took footballs “to another area on the way to the field” before the start of the game.


Retail Therapy

Rent (or rent out) an unused suite at your favorite NBA, NFL, or NHL stadium.

Power up your phone, with your wallet.

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