StrictlyVC: January 29, 2015

Happy Thursday, everyone! No column today. We are way, way under the weather this week.

We also spent an inordinate amount of time last night reading over the explosive lawsuit filed Tuesday against entrepreneur-investor Joe Lonsdale by a former Stanford student and girlfriend who’s accusing him of gender violence and sexual assault.

It’s a major shocker. Lonsdale — a protégé of Peter Thiel who worked with Thiel at his hedge fund, Clarium Capital, before cofounding the big data company Palantir with Thiel, Alex Karp, Stephen Cohen and Nathan Gettings — has been described by Fortune as a “man in a hurry” given his hard-charging work ethic.

In addition to Palantir, Lonsdale also cofounded Addepar, whose software helps rich clients manage their wealth. The five-year-old company has raised $65 million from investors, including $50 million that poured in last spring. And Lonsdale cofounded four-year-old Backplane, a social network for people with “like-minded interests” that has raised roughly $14 million from investors.

More recently, Lonsdale has dived into the world of venture capital, co-founding Formation 8, a two-and-a-half-year-old firm that has already raised nearly $1 billion from investors across two funds. (Its first fund, the biggest debut fund raised since 1999, included an early bet on the virtual reality company Oculus VR, bought for $2 billion by Facebook last year.)

Despite his extensive network, Lonsdale is not a terribly public figure. He has tweeted 23 times in the last five years, almost exclusively to promote his business interests or those of his friends. Conference appearances are rare. On Quora, an anonymous poster characterizes working with him as “intense,” saying Lonsdale “tends to favor potential over experience, which results in a lot of personal and professional growth for the individuals he works with.”

Lonsdale won’t be battling this lawsuit quietly, though. Soon after the filing was leaked yesterday to the media, Lonsdale — who credits his start in the industry to his days “as a little kid at PayPal” — published a highly detailed, personal, and e-mail laden personal statement in a move meant to quickly quash questions raised by the suit.

Not only does he include love letters written to him by his accuser, Elise Clougherty, whom he dated for one year, but anyone curious can also find a two-page letter written to him by Clougherty’s mother, asking Lonsdale not to part ways with her daughter, and a somewhat excruciating email that Clougherty had written to Lonsdale about her history of mental health issues.

Lonsdale is also planning to file a defamation suit against Clougherty today. “I will counter these vindictive attacks at every turn,” he says in his statement. “I will not be bullied by lies and threats.”

According to Clougherty’s lawsuit, she and Lonsdale began a romantic relationship in February 2012 after becoming linked in a mentorship program at Stanford, where she was an undergraduate and Lonsdale, an alum of the school, was a volunteer. Lonsdale says in his statement that they’d first met the previous year, at a “meeting arranged by her mother in New York,” when Clougherty and her mother “sought me out through a mutual friend.”


Top News in the A.M.

Microsoft’s Office for Android tablet apps arrive today.


New Fundings, a 1.5-year-old, Singapore-based property rental and sales site that launched publicly late last year, has raised $1.6 million in funding from Sequoia Capital and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. The company had previously raised $650,000 in seed funding, including from 500 Startups.

Araxid, a 2.5-year-old, Mclean, Va.-based company whose software helps its customers link and privatize disparate identities stored in one or more databases, has raised $12.5 million in Series A funding co-led by Bessemer Venture Partners and Columbia Capital.

AutoBot, a year-old, Beijing-based startup that provides smartphone-using drivers with analytics about their speed, proximity to other cars and more, has raised $6 million in Series A funding from Gobi Partners and ABC Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Business Insider, the 7.5-year-old, New York-based business news site, has raised $25 million in fresh funding from a syndicate of investors led by Axel Springer SE, with participation from earlier backers, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The WSJ has more here. Business Insider is the most-visited business news site in the U.S., according to analytics firm comScore. It has now raised $57 million altogether, says the WSJ.

Datadog, a five-year-old, New York-based monitoring platform for cloud applications, has raised $31 million in Series C funding led by earlier backer Index Ventures, with participation from RTP Ventures, OpenView Venture Partners, and Amplify Partners, among others. The company has now raised $53.4 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Deliveroo, a 2.5-year-old, London-based food delivery company that focuses on high-end restaurants in densely populated areas, has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by Accel Partners. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.

Iterable, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company behind a marketing-automation platform for e-commerce companies, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding from Merus Capital, 645 Ventures, TEEC Angels, 500 Startups and individual investors.

Koru, a 1.5-year-old, Seattle-based talent marketplace that helps college grads find jobs at tech companies, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Maveron, with participation from City Light CapitalTrilogy Equity Partners and earlier backers Battery Ventures and First Round Capital. The company has now raised $12.6 million altogether.

Mashable, a 10-year-old, New York-based media site that covers tech, entertainment, and business news, has raised $17 million in new funding led by Time Warner Investments, reports the WSJ. The company has now raised $31 million altogether.

Meta, a two-year-old, Portola Valley, Ca.-based augmented reality headset maker, has raised $23 million in Series A funding led by Horizons Ventures, Tim Draper, BOE Optoelectronics and Y-Combinator partners Garry Tan and Alexis Ohanian. Other participants in the round include Danhua Capital, Commodore Partners and Vegas Tech Fund. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.

Tripda, a 10-month-old, New York-based long-distance carpooling platform, has raised $11 million in Series A funding led by Rocket Internet AG and an unnamed New York venture firm.

Tune, a 5.5-year-old, Seattle-based company whose software helps marketers manage their performance advertising relationships, has raised $27 million in fresh funding led by Icon Ventures, with participation from Performance Equity Management and earlier backer Accel Partners. The company has now raised $36.4 million altogether. Recode has more here.

Whistle, the 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of dog activity trackers, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Nokia Growth Partners, with participation from Qualcomm, Melo7 Tech Partners, and QueensBridge Venture Partners. The company, which has now raised $25 million altogether, has also acquired a competitor, San Diego-based Tagg, for an undisclosed sum.


New Funds

Recruit Holdings, a Tokyo-based human resources company, is launching a $20 million strategic corporate venture fund that will invest in human resource startups across various stages.

Techstars Ventures, which got its start nearly eight years ago in Boulder, Co., has closed a $150 million early-stage fund. Venture Capital Dispatch has much more here.



Esker, which makes document process automation software and trades on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, has acquired TermSync, a Fitchburg, Wi.-based cloud-based accounts receivable platform, for undisclosed terms. TermSync had raised $2 million from individual investors.

Fingerprint, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based kid-focused learning and entertainment platform, has acquired two smaller children’s mobile education companies: Cognitive Kid and Scribble Press. Fingerprint has raised $20 million from investors, including Reed Elsevier VenturesCorus Entertainment, and DreamWorks Animation. TechCrunch has more here.

Performant Financial Corp., whose software helps its customers reduce waste and recover lost assets, is acquiring Premier Healthcare Exchange for $108 million in cash and $22 million in Performant common stock. Premier had raised $4 million from the growth equity firm Edison Partners.

Slack, the enterprise collaboration service, has acquired Screenhero, a Y Combinator alum that competes against WebEx. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Screenhero had raised $1.8 million from investors, shows Crunchbase. TechCrunch has the story here.

Teespring, a Providence, R.I.-based custom apparel startup, has acquired London-based competitor Fabrily for undisclosed terms. Fabrily was bootstrapped. Teespring has raised $57 million from investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, and Y Combinator.



Arsenal Venture Partners, a Winter Park, Fl.-based venture firm, has appointed two new partners, promoting principal Jennifer Dunham and hiring Ryan Waddington. Dunham joined the firm nearly 17 years ago. Waddington most recently cofounded Michigan-based Huron River Ventures, a seed-stage venture firm.

Bryan Hale has re-joined DFJ as an EIR, the firm announced earlier this week. Hale worked for DFJ before joining its portfolio company, Chef Software, in 2009. Before first coming to DFJ in 2007, Hale worked in corporate development at Salesforce and as an analyst at UBS.

TPG has sued its former spokesman, Adam Levine, claiming he took confidential documents from the private-equity firm and leaked them to the New York Times after he was denied a promotion and told that TPG was considering replacing him atop its public relations group. Levine’s camp unsurprisingly has a very different story, saying he had “alerted TPG senior management to serious issues of noncompliance and defrauding its investors of millions of dollars in fees and expenses,” and calls the suit a “blatant and shameful attempt to discredit a whistleblower.” Much more here.



StrictlyVC’s first INSIDER event takes place two weeks from today in San Francisco, featuring Naval Ravikant of AngelList, Keith Rabois of Khosla Ventures, Strava cofounder Mark Gainey, Sigma West cofounder Greg Gretsch, and Haystack founder Semil Shah. Much thanks to our wonderful sponsors Ballou PR, Next World Capital and Standish Management for making the whole thing possible.


Job Listings

Yahoo is looking to add an associate to its corporate development team. (We’d told you about this one a couple of weeks ago without a link; the company shot it to us yesterday.)



Facebook reported fourth quarter financial results yesterday that topped analysts’ estimates. Some of the interesting data points from its call: More than half a billion people access Facebook exclusively from their phones. Mobile now accounts for 69 percent of its ad business, up from 53 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013. And video on the platform is exploding, with daily video views hitting 3 billion in the fourth quarter, up from 1 billion last September.


Essential Reads

Apple and Samsung are in a dead heat for smartphone dominance, according to new data from the research firm Strategy Analytics.



The rich design history of the selfie stick.

Optical illusions using typography.

Writer and blogging pioneer Andrew Sullivan signs off.


Retail Therapy

After eight years in the making, the Acura NSX is available for purchase.

Way to ruin meal time, Ronit Baranga.

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