StrictlyVC: March 11, 2015

Hello, dear readers, happy Wednesday!

Almost half the tickets were nabbed a week ago when we announced our next INSIDER event, happening in San Francisco May 13 at Gallery Wendi Norris. Just a mention that you might want to pick yours up before we run out. Here are the details if you happened to miss them earlier.

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Top News in the A.M.

Ride-hailing app Uber pledged in a blog post yesterday to sign up one million female drivers around the globe by 2020.

Apple is going to crush Switzerland’s traditional watchmaking industry with its Apple Watch, predicts Swatch’s founder.


Kleiner Attorney Lynn Hermle Shows This Trial is Far from Over

Defense attorney Lynn Hermle set the stage yesterday for a bruising battle, delivering a series of jabs over the course of roughly four hours as she began her cross-examination of Ellen Pao, the former Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner who is suing the firm for gender discrimination and retaliation.

Many of Hermle’s punches landed.

Hermle, for example, asked Pao to confirm that she was hired within the same general time frame as several other former and current Kleiner employees in the spring and summer of 2005, including Randy Komisar, Beth Seidenberg, and Dana Mead. Hermle then asked Pao to confirm that “one man and one woman” were later promoted to general partner — Komisar and Seidenberg — while “one man and one woman,” meaning Mead and Pao, were not.

The idea, of course, was to remind jurors that Kleiner promotes some but not all of its partners, no matter their gender.

Hermle continued on, asking Pao to confirm the names of the women who Kleiner Perkins hired either in the same time frame or after Pao was hired: Mary Meeker. “Yes.” Megan Quinn. “Yes.” Jessica Owens. “Yes.” Tina Ju. “Yes.” Hermle continued on, citing Christina Lee; Lila Ibrahim; and Maritza Liaw; as well as mentioning, for good measure, Juliet de Baubigny and Kleiner’s CFO for the last 14 years, Susan Biglieri, who were already at the firm when Pao joined it.

Hermle also established a discrepancy between Pao’s testimony on the stand and a videotaped deposition of Pao from April 2014 that Hermle played at various intervals yesterday. Specifically, while jurors looked on, Hermle asked Pao to look at her employment agreement with Kleiner, which mandated “compliance with [Kleiner] policies, including, but not limited to, policies prohibiting discrimination and unlawful harassment, securities trading, disclosure of confidential information, conflicts of interest and violation of applicable laws.”

Hermle then said: “You made no attempt to obtain copies of these policies?” Pao answered that she did, in 2012, the year she filed her lawsuit against Kleiner. “But in the seven years between 2005 and 2012, you made no attempt to ask for any copies of these policies — is that correct?” asked Hermle. “Yes it is,” said Pao.

On the heels of Pao’s testimony Monday that she engaged numerous Kleiner partners about the firm’s need for better HR policies, the admission did not look good.

The veracity of Pao’s claims were further called into question when Hermle asked Pao about her interactions with Biglieri about those policies.

Hermle: “You never asked Sue Biglieri if the firm maintained an [equal employment] policy?” Pao: “She told me it did not.” Cue the videotaped deposition from last year, in which Hermle asks Pao: “Did you ever ask [Sue] Biglieri about an EE policy?” and Pao answers, after a reflective beat, “No.” Hermle then asks in the deposition video: “Did you ever ask anyone at Kleiner for a policy that prohibited discrimination or harassment?” “No.”

Surprisingly, Pao’s attorneys barely said a word while Hermle hammered at Pao, though presumably, they will have a chance to ask follow-up questions.

Among the issues they might raise is Komisar’s advancement at the firm. Though Hermle yesterday compared his trajectory at Kleiner to Pao’s, Kleiner had worked with Komisar for years before 2005, including backing him in prior ventures and partnering with him on boards, which gave him a considerable advantage over Pao.

They might also note that asking for copies of a company’s equal employment policy might have been seen as declaration of war. After all, employees don’t usually seek out such documentation unless they’re preparing to sue, and Pao has testified that she filed her suit after years of seeking a solution internally.

No doubt Pao’s team will also walk through the names of those female employees who Hermle mentioned, some of whom were hired into support roles, and many who remain only loosely affiliated with the firm today.

Still, Hermle made it clear from the start that this trial is far from over. Among other inconsistencies that Hermle worked to expose throughout her first day of questioning was whether Pao was “pressured” into a relationship with former colleague Ajit Nazre, as she has said, or Pao entered into it willingly, as dozens of very personal text messages and emails introduced into evidence yesterday suggest.

To unsettle Pao, Hermle even plucked the word “humble” from the official description for the job that Pao had first taken at Kleiner.

“[Y]ou understand what humble means, Ms. Pao? How would you define it?”

“Modest, not arrogant. Someone who is not exaggerating their skills,” answered Pao.

“And it would also include — would it not — someone who doesn’t think they’re better than their coworkers – without being dismissive of their coworkers’ accomplishments. That would fall within the definition wouldn’t it?” asked Hermle.

“Yes,” sound Pao, waiting along with everyone else in the crowded courtroom to see where Hermle might take her questioning next.


New Fundings

Collegium Pharmaceutical, a 13-year-old, Cumberland, R.I.-based pharmaceutical company whose pain medicine is designed to deter abusers, has raised $50 million led by TPG Biotech, with participation from RA Capital Management, Adage Capital Management, Rock Springs Capital, and Eventide Asset Management. The company has now raised $77.5 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

Decolar, a 16-year-old, Argentina-based online travel agency — the largest in Latin America — has taken $270 million from Expedia Group in exchange for less than 20 percent of its business. Skift has more here.

Elastica, a three-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based cloud security company, has raised $30 million in new funding led by Third Point Ventures, with participation from Pelion Venture Partners and earlier backer Mayfield Fund. Xconomy has more here.

Groupon, the seven-year-old, Chicago-based publicly traded daily deals and local commerce company, is taking steps toward spinning off its Asia business, Groupon India. Toward that end, it has raised $20 million from Sequoia Capital, reports TechCrunch. More here.

HealthMyne, a two-year-old, Madison, Wi.-based informatics company focused on bringing imaging analysis to the point of care, has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding led by local firms Venture Investors and 4490 Ventures, with participation from HealthX Ventures and several angel investors.

Independa, a five-year-old, San Diego-based startup that embeds remote-monitoring technology for elderly people into television sets made by LG Electronics, has closed its multi-tranched Series B round at $6 million, with its newest capital coming largely from Mesa Verde Venture Partners., a four-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based language learning app, has raised $1 million from Yochy Investments, the Washington, D.C.-based seed fund 1776, and individuals, including earlier investor Udi Netzer. The company has now raised $1.8 million altogether. TechCrunch has the story here.

Looker, a four-year-old, Santa Cruz, Ca.-based business intelligence platform, has raised $30 million in Series B funding led by Meritech Capital Partners, with participation from Sapphire Ventures and earlier backers Redpoint Ventures, First Round Capital and PivotNorth.

Pager, a nearly year-old, New York-based company whose mobile app facilitates doctor house calls, has raised $10.4 million from existing seed investors Lux Capital and Montage Ventures, as well as new investors Goodwater Capital and Summation Health Ventures. VentureBeat has more here.

Prevoty, a two-year-old, L.A.-based security software company that enables enterprises to embed security within their applications, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by U.S. Venture Partners. The company has now raised $11.1 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

SpareFoot, a 6.5-year-old, Austin, Tx.-based online service for finding and booking self-storage units, has raised $33 million in new funding led by Revolution Growth. Monkfish Equity and earlier backer Insight Venture Partners also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to roughly $50 million.

Speakwell Enterprises, an 8.5-year-old, Mumbai, India-based English language learning service company, has raised $10 million from investors led by Gray Matters Capital. VCCircle has more here.

Splash, a four-year-old, New York-based event-planning software startup, has raised $6 million in new funding led by Spark Capital. The company has now raised $7.7 million altogether. Fortune has the story here.

ThinkCerca, a three-year-old, Chicago-based company offering online academic reading and writing instruction, has raised $3.2 million in Series A funding led by Follett Knowledge Fund, Amicus Capital, Great Oaks Venture Capital, and Math Venture Partners.

Zuora, an eight-year-old, Foster City, Ca.-based business whose software allows customers set up subscriptions for their goods and services, has raised $115 million from investors that include Wellington ManagementBlackRock, Premji, and Passport Capital. Earlier investors also joined the round, including Benchmark, Greylock Partners, Redpoint Ventures, Index Ventures, Shasta Ventures, Vulcan Capital, Next World Capital, Workday co-CEO Dave Duffield and Salesforce founder Marc Benioff. Zuora has now raised $250 million altogether. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.


New Funds

Lilly Asia Ventures, a Shanghai-based venture fund affiliated with Eli Lilly & Co, is looking to raise up to $100 million for its third fund, shows an SEC filing that states the first sale has yet to occur.



Google is in talks to buy the Bangalore-based mobile advertising company InMobi, reports Reuters, noting it would be Google’s “first deal in India’s busy start-up space.”



Apple is partnering with several non-profit organizations on a multi-year, multi-million-dollar effort to increase the pipeline of women, minorities, and veterans in the technology industry, reports Fortune.

Paul Ceglia, the New York wood pellet salesman who claimed to own half of Facebook, has disappeared. Ceglia was charged in November 2012 with forging documents in an attempt to extort billions of dollars from Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg. As he awaits a federal court trial, Ceglia has been wearing an ankle bracelet that monitors his movements, but he couldn’t be found this past weekend when U.S. marshals were sent to check on him. (They did find the ankle bracelet, though.) More here.

The newest company of serial entrepreneur Naveen Jain appears to be gaining some traction. Moon Express is a four-year-old company that’s been developing a robotic spacecraft for low-cost missions beyond Earth’s orbit. CNBC has more here.

Longtime Google CFO Patrick Pichette is retiring from the company, saying that he wants to spend more time with his family. Recode has the story here.

Peter Thiel, the PayPal cofounder who has gone on to cofound the investment firms Clarium Capital Managament, Founders Fund, and Mithril Capital Management, is now a part-time Y Combinator partner, too. Don’t worry about conflicts of interest, though, insists Y Combinator president Sam Altman, writing in a blog post about Thiel: “Peter won’t invest in any companies while they’re in YC or for 3 months after they present at Demo Day (this will apply to Peter’s investment entities as well), which should eliminate any unfair advantage.” VentureBeat has more here.

Twitter is launching a Hong Kong office, even though its service has been blocked in mainland China since 2009. The idea: to find big advertisers looking to connect with overseas customers. South China Morning Post has the story here.


Essential Reads

Apple draws so many shoppers that its stores lift sales by 10 percent at the malls in which they operate. No wonder Google has just opened its own retail store for the first time, The Google Shop, in London.

Yesterday, Facebook launched a product called “Topic Data” in partnership with the brand analytics company DataSift that will show marketers what audiences are saying on Facebook about events, brands, subjects and activities. TechCrunch has much more here.



A little wine can make you more attractive.

“Game of Thrones,” ‘80s style.


Retail Therapy

The Pancake Bot. We think we need one of these.

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