StrictlyVC: February 5, 2014

Hello, everyone, happy Thursday! (Web visitors, here’s an easier-to-read version of what you see below.)


Top News in the A.M.

In the first half of this year, tweets will start to be visible in Google’s search results as soon as they’re posted. Bloomberg has more here.


In the Venture Database Race, a Kerfuffle

Anand Sanwal, founder of the New York-based venture database company CB Insights, made an unpleasant discovery yesterday after his subscribers pointed him to a TechCrunch piece about Techlist, a new venture database business.

Techlist made the news because the outfit — a subsidiary of the Singapore-based media company Tech In Asia — was just admitted to the winter class of the prestigious accelerator program Y Combinator. The problem spied by Sanwal and his customers: Techlist has borrowed heavily from CB Insights’s design and user interface. The company clearly “crossed over from inspiration into plagiarism,” says Sanwal.

Whether Y Combinator agrees remains to be seen. But Sanwal – whose bootstrapped, 27-person company is competing against a growing number of new investor database companies — isn’t imagining things, seemingly. In recent months, 12 Techlist employees have seized on a 30-day trial period that CB Insights offers, including Tech In Asia’s CEO, Willis Wee, his head of product, and numerous product managers and developers.

Indeed, on Twitter yesterday, Wee acknowledged using CB Insights “as a reference to launch fast,” writing to Sanwal specifically, “Credits to you and we will be improving as we go along.”

Wee — whose company has previously raised venture funding from East Ventures and Simile Venture Partners — quickly added that Techlist is “very very different from any other venture database out there.”

StrictlyVC chatted with Sanwal yesterday about what happens next.

You just wrote a jokey post about “arriving” now that you have a “copycat.” Are you thinking of taking further action?

We’ve talked to our lawyers and are awaiting their guidance. Since Willis admitted on [Hacker News] and via Twitter [that] they copied, a lot of the gray area has been removed. But ultimately, this is a distraction, so [I’m] not sure what we’ll do. Plus, I love our lawyers, but they ain’t cheap.

Techlist plans to zero in on the Asian market. How big an area of focus is that for you?

We cover financing and exit data globally, including Asia, as our institutional clients expect that we’re comprehensive. Also, Asia is our second fastest-growing market in terms of clients, so we’re putting a lot of effort on the area.

Have you asked Y Combinator for comment?

We haven’t. For the record, we don’t think this is YC‘s fault. They have a lot of companies and cannot audit the UI/UX of their portfolio companies. I also don’t think [President] Sam [Altman] and the team condone this type of thing or think great companies are built by copying other companies. That said, I am curious to see what YC does.

Just yesterday, the WSJ published a piece about the advantages that venture-backed companies have over those that choose to bootstrap, including investor connections. How big a concern is this company and its investor ties?

It’s annoying, mainly because our team works hard, and I feel this is sort of crappy for them. But beyond that, we’re not concerned. Money buys you time, not the ability to execute. And we’ve seen lots of well-funded companies come into our space and all flame out.

You seem to be maintaining a sense of humor about this.

We’re a heads-down, low-drama group, so this made things interesting for us today. I realized that some drama from time to time is fun.


New Fundings

AuraSense Therapeutics, a six-year-old, Skokie, Il.-based company focused on developing and commercializing spherical nucleic acid conjugates, has held a second closing of its Series C funding from undisclosed investors, bringing the round to more than $18 million. The company has now attracted more than $27 million altogether, including from AbbVie Biotech Ventures, Abbott Biotech Ventures, and Bill Gates.

Civitas Learning, a 3.5-year-old, Austin, Tx.-based company that makes a cloud-based, predictive analytics platform for educational settings, has raised $16 million in new funding led by Rethink Education, with participation from earlier backers, including Austin Ventures and Emergence Capital Partners. The company has now raised $32 million altogether.

ClusterHQ, a seven-year-old, Bristol, England-based company that “makes containers play nice with data,” has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Accel Partners London, with participation from Canaan Partners and earlier backers. The company has now raised $13 million altogether. GigaOm has more here.

Dering Hall, a 3.5-year-old, New York-based online home-design marketplace, has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding from earlier backers Hearst Magazines, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and SoftBank Capital. The company has now raised $3.9 million.

Eero, a year-old, San Francisco-based company behind a new Wi-Fi system for the home, has raised $5 million in seed funding led by First Round Capital, with participation from Stanford University, Menlo Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Homebrew Ventures, Alexis Ohanian, and Garry Tan. VentureBeat has more here.

EyeBrain, a 6.5-year-old, Ivry-sur-Seine, France-based company that develops markers of cerebral function for neurological and psychiatric disorders and diseases, has raised €1.3 million ($1.47 million) from previous backers Fonds Régional de Co-Investissement d’Ile-de-France and the Anaxago crowdfunding platform.

G1 Therapeutics, a 2.5-year-old, Durham, N.C.-based company developing small molecule therapies to treat various cancers and protect the bone marrow from the harmful effects of chemotherapy, has raised $33 million in Series B funding co-led by Eshelman Ventures and RA Capital Management, with participation from Lumira Capital and Boxer Capital. Earlier backers Hatteras Venture Partners, MedImmune Ventures, and Mountain Group Capital also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $45.5 million.

HomeLight, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based service that matches homebuyers and sellers with real estate agents, has raised $3 million in Series A funding from Bullpen Capital, Crosslink Capital, Krillion Ventures, Montage Ventures, Western Technology Investment and 500 Startups. The company has raised $4.5 million altogether.

Ichuanyi, a 2.5-year-old, Shanghai-based e-commerce platform for women’s fashions, has raised $10 million in Series B financing from Chinese e-commerce platform, and Vertex Venture Holdings. China Money Network has more here.

Le Tote, a three-year-old, San Leandro, Ca.-based startup that rents out clothes and accessories to fashion-forward, budget-conscious women, has raised $8.8 million in Series A funding led by Azure Capital Partners, with participation from Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Simon Venture GroupAITV, Epic Ventures, Arsenal Venture Partners and Funders Club. Le Tote had raised a undisclosed amount of seed funding in 2013.

Manthan Software Services, an 11-year-old, Bangalore-based business intelligence company, has raised $60 million in new funding led by Temasek Holdings, with participation from earlier backer Norwest Venture Partners. As part of the round, earlier backers IDG Ventures and Fidelity have partially exited their investments. VCCircle has more here.

Sauce Labs, a 6.5-year-old, San Francisco-based website and mobile app testing service, has raised $15 million in Series D funding from earlier investor Toba Capital. The company has raised $36 million to date. VentureBeat has more here.

SteelBrick, a six-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based company that makes so-called configure, price, and quote applications for customers, has raised $18 million in Series B funding led by Shasta Ventures, with participation from earlier backer Emergence Capital and new investor Salesforce Ventures.

Velano Vascular, a 2.5-year-old, Philadelphia, Pa.-based stealth startup whose syringe-like device can draw blood from hospital patients without the discomfort associated with needles, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by First Round Capital. (The deal represents the venture firm’s first investment in a medical device company.) Kapor CapitalSafeguard Scientifics, White Owl Capital, Griffin Hospital, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and several angel investors also participated in the round.


New Funds

Crosslink Capital, the 25-year-old, San Francisco-based cross-stage investment firm, has closed its seventh fund with $170 million, it announced yesterday. It closed its previous fund with $220 million in 2010. Crosslink made 20 investments last year, including in the e-commerce mattress company Casper, the recruitment service, and in, a community platform for data visualization and infographics that connects designers with clients. Some of its biggest hits in recent years include the streaming music service Pandora and the sports blog Bleacher Report.

India Internet Group, a four-year-old, Bangalore-based early-stage investor, is planning to raise a second fund of about $15 million later this year to invest in mobile payments providers, mobile marketplaces and communication apps. Livemint has more here.

Signia Venture Partners, a 2.5-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based firm founded by Playdom founder Rick Thompson, is looking to raise up to $100 million for its second fund, shows an SEC filing. The firm’s debut fund reportedly closed with $20 million. Among the firm’s portfolio companies is Boxed, a New York-based company that delivers wholesale club-like purchases to consumers’ front doors; ApplePie Capital, a San Francisco-based online loan business focused on franchise financing; and Vida, a San Francisco-based company whose mobile app connects consumers with coaches and doctors to improve their health.



Bluegiga Technologies, a 15-year-old, Espoo, Finland-based that makes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi modules for short-range wireless connectivity, has been acquired by the publicly traded company Silicon Labs for $61 million in cash.

Datalogix Holdings, a 14-year-old, Westminster, Co.-based marketing analytics startup, has been acquired by Oracle for $1.2 billion, according to VentureWire sources. Oracle announced plans to acquire Datalogix in December without disclosing its purchase price. The deal closed last month.

Sunrise, a two-year-old, New York-based free calendar app, has been acquired by Microsoft for $100 million, reports TechCrunch. The company had raised $8.2 million from investors, including NextView VenturesBalderton Capital,, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, SV Angel, and many others.

Under Armour, the publicly traded athletic apparel maker, has acquired Endomondo, a seven-year-old, Copenhagen-based social fitness network; and MyFitnessPal, a 10-year-old, San Francisco-based mobile app and site for people looking to improve their fitness. Endomondo, which had raised $8.2 million from undisclosed investors, was acquired for $85 million. MyFitnessPal, which had raised $18 million from Accel Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, fetched $475 million.



Twitter CEO Dick Costolo told employees yesterday that Twitter has “sucked for years” at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and vowed that things are going to change. Said Costolo in his memo: “I’m frankly ashamed of how poorly we’ve dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It’s absurd. There’s no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It’s nobody else’s fault but mine, and it’s embarrassing.” The Verge has the story here.

Since being called out on Twitter by investor Jason Calacanis last year for some bizarre behavior, ousted Genius cofounder Mahbod Moghadam has been trolling Calacanis’s Twitter account and calling him — among his less-offensive choices — “fat.” Both tell the Observer that there’s no real animosity, though.



A Silicon Valley-based family office that says it manages more than $1 billion in assets is looking for an investment associate.

SK Telecom Ventures wants to hire an analyst. The job is in Sunnyvale, Ca.



A new Forrester report covered by TechCrunch features some eye-opening figures, including its estimate that online spending in China will reach one trillion dollars by 2019. Forrester thinks China’s online retail sales hit $440 billion last year — roughly 10 percent of the country’s retail sales — up from $307 billion in 2013.

According to the Bay Area recruiting firm Riviera Partners, salaries at startups with either seed or Series A funding remained steady between 2013 and 2014, but the same wasn’t true of later-stage companies. For example, between 2013 and 2014, software engineers at seed-funded companies received an average of $117,000, while at Series A funded companies, they made $125,000. But last year, the average software engineer at a Series B funded company made $142,000, up from $130,000 in 2013, and Series C funded companies paid software engineers $137,000 on average, up from $128,000 in 2013. The Silicon Valley Business Journal has all the data here.


Essential Reads

Apple has repeatedly tried to crack the TV business. According to Recode, it’s poised to try again.



Shark photos.

Dinner in New York.

A real estate agent in Greenwich gets creative.


Retail Therapy

Socks with character.


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