StrictlyVC: March 13, 2015

It’s Friday the 13th! Do not let your guard down. (Unless you want to make a new friend, in which case, by all means.)

Have a terrific weekend, everyone. We’ll see you in a few days. (Pssst, web visitors, you can sign up for StrictlyVC here.)


Top News in the A.M.

According to a new report, Spain has the fastest LTE speeds; the U.S., surprisingly, has among the slowest.

You can now shop from your wrist. (Well, soon.)


At Ellen Pao Trial, Last-Ditch Efforts by Both Sides

We wouldn’t want to be a juror at the trial of Ellen Pao, the interim Reddit CEO who is suing her former employer, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, for gender discrimination and retaliation.

While both sides have enjoyed small victories at the trial, many of the “gotcha” moments raised by each have been neutralized when provided broader context.

Remember those HR policies that Pao testified that she’d raised with executive members of Kleiner over the years, the ones she said she’d begged them to improve? We later learned that Pao never asked a single person to see an equal employment opportunity policy until she was preparing to sue Kleiner in 2012.

It was a startling admission. But guess what? Yesterday, we learned that there was no EEO policy at Kleiner until 2012 or that, if there was, Kleiner’s then COO Eric Keller couldn’t find it, as he testified yesterday. Indeed, unable to locate one, Kleiner had one created the same year. (Recode has much more on the issue here.)

How about the 700,000 pages of documents Pao was said to have amassed to use in her case against Kleiner? It all sounded less nefarious once Pao was asked about them again yesterday, explaining that most was email coming from her work account, along with a Kleiner-issued hard drive and a box of documents that included “about 100 notebooks” for work that Pao said she’d filled up over the years.

Here’s another thing: You might have read that Pao was difficult to work with. In a 2009 email exchange between Pao and her assistant, for example, the assistant told Pao she was running late because her landlord, who spoke poor English, had been in a car accident outside her house and she was acting as his translator. “It’s great that you want to be helpful to your landlord,” Pao wrote. “It would be better for me if you could come to work on time.”

Yesterday, however, the incident sounded like much ado about nothing, with Pao testifying that the assistant’s tardiness was a fleeting problem and that they enjoyed a “good working relationship.” In fact, she said, when the assistant had to later choose which of her two managers to sit near — Pao, who was moving from one part of the office to another, or partner Wen Hsieh, who was not — she chose Pao.

Keller’s day in court was just as cofounding. He testified that Pao asked for what seems like a very big payout to leave the firm before filing her lawsuit against it. “She said eight figures,” he recalled. Keller also testified to Pao’s intransigence when it came to her full cooperation with the investigator that Kleiner hired to look into complaints from both Pao and partner Trae Vassallo.

We quickly learned, however, that the investigator, Stephen Hirschfeld, states on his own site that he works “on behalf of companies” — not employees. Asked if Keller read as much, he said he didn’t remember reading that detail when he researched Hirschfeld in late 2011. “I read the site. I looked at his qualifications. I didn’t memorize the website.”

Court resumes at 10 a.m. again today. We’ll see what happens. But if there’s any crystal clear takeaway at this point in the trial, it’s that workplaces can be minefields. And that isn’t exactly a revelation, even if the case has been fascinating to watch.


New Fundings

Allergen Research Corp., a four-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based company that’s developing treatments to keep kids with food allergies from developing serious consequences, has raised $80 million from investors. Foresite Capital led the round, with participation from Fidelity Management & Research Company, Aisling Capital, Adage CapitalRA Capital Management, Palo Alto Investors, and earlier backer Longitude Capital. The company has now raised $97 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Bugcrowd, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose software helps companies run crowdsourced, software-bug bounty programs to track the bugs down, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Costanoa Venture Capital, with participation from Rally VenturesPaladin Capital Group and Blackbird Ventures. The company has raised $9 million to date.

Classkick, a 1.5-year-old, Chicago-based platform that enables teachers to give immediate feedback to students working on iPads, has raised $1.7 million in seed funding from Great Oaks Venture Capital, Kapor CapitalLightbank, and Yammer cofounder Adam Pisoni.

Eko Devices, a two-year-old, Berkeley, Ca.-based smartphone-enabled stethoscope company, has raised $2 million in funding led by earlier backer, with participation from Stanford StartX and angel investors. The company has now raised $2.8 million to date.

EVEN Financial, a seven-month-old, New York-based startup that connects online lending marketplaces with borrowers and verified potential lenders, has raised $2.8 million in seed funding led by Canaan Partners, with participation from Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Conversion CapitalSocial Leverage, 555 Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and individuals investors.

Favor, a nearly three-year-old, Austin, Tx.-based personal delivery service whose “runners” wear blue tuxedo T-shirts and fetch and deliver goods for $5 per trip (plus 5 percent of the cost of the items and a driver tip), has raised $13 million in Series A funding. The company has now raised $17.9 million altogether, including from investor Tim Draper and Silverton Partners.

Feetz, a nearly two-year-old, Chattanooga, Tn.-based startup that makes custom footwear with 3-D printers, has raised $1.25 million in seed funding led by Khosla Ventures, with participation from Chattanooga-based JumpFund and former Reebok CEO Uli Becker. Venture Capital Dispatch has much more here.

Kura Oncology, a new, San Diego-based biopharmaceutical company, has sprung onto the scene as a fully formed public company, after raising $60 million — including from EcoR1 Capital, Fidelity Management & Research, ARCH Venture Partners, Boxer Capital, and Partner Fund Management — then completing a reverse merger. Xconomy has more here.

Liaison Technologies, a 15-year-old, Alpharetta, Ga.-based company that makes cloud-enabled data-integration and data-management products, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Merck Global Health Innovation Fund. The company says the round brings its total funding to $90 million.

PhaseBio Pharmaceuticals, a 13-year-old, Malvern, Pa.-based biopharmaceutical company focused on endocrine and metabolic disorders and cardiovascular disease, has raised $40 million led by AstraZeneca, with participation from earlier backers New Enterprise Associates, Hatteras Venture Partners, Johnson & Johnson, and Fletcher Spaght Ventures. The company has raised at least $104 million in funding to date, shows Crunchbase., a seven-year-old, Bangalore, India-based classifieds portal that connect buyers and sellers on their mobile phones and other online devices, is close to raising $150 million from Tiger Global Management and other investors, including Steadview Capital of Hong Kong, a source tells the WSJ.

SignalFX, a two-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based software application monitoring company, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by earlier investor CRV, with participation from earlier investor Andreessen Horowitz. The company has raised $28.5 million altogether from the two firms.



Aduro Biotech, a 15-year-old, Berkeley, Ca.-based company that’s developing an immunotherapy for pancreatic cancer, has publicly filed to raise up to $86 million in IPO. (The company had first filed confidentially in mid-December.) Aduro has raised roughly $140 million from investors over the years; some of its biggest shareholders include Morningside Ventures, which owns 37.8 percent of the company; Fidelity Investments, which owns 7.9 percent; and Johnson & Johnson, which owns 6.6 percent.

Alibaba‘s 180-day lock-up, following its blockbuster IPO last September, ends this coming Wednesday, March 18. Just a friendly reminder.

The IPO road show of GoDaddy, the 18-year-old, Scottsdale, Az.-based online service that helps people and businesses set up web sites, reportedly kicks off next week.



2lemetry, a four-year-old, Denver-based startup whose enterprise-focused platform tracks and manages IP-enabled machines and other connected devices, has been acquired by Amazon for undisclosed terms, reports TechCrunch. 2lemetry had raised $4 million from Salesforce Ventures.

ARX, a 28-year-old, San Francisco-based digital signature company, has been acquired by longtime partner DocuSign for undisclosed terms. More here.

The Swedish streaming music company Aspiro now belongs to Jay ZBillboard reports.

BGPmon, a provider of network and routing monitoring services, has been acquired by OpenDNS for undisclosed terms.

Lasso, a private photo-sharing and chat app cofounded by the founders of the photo and video-sharing service Photobucket, has been acquired by Photobucket for undisclosed terms. TechCrunch has the story here.



Patrick Baeuerle has joined the Boston-based life sciences venture firm MPM Capital as a managing director. Baeuerle was most recently a VP and general manager at Amgen.

Apple CEO Tim Cook offered an ailing Steve Jobs his liver, according to a new biography about Jobs’s life.



TIAA-CREF, one of the largest U.S. asset managers, is looking to hire a senior investment analyst.


Essential Reads

New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo anoints Slack the office messaging app that may finally sink email.

Snapchat’s Discover platform is demanding very high prices for ads, and marketers are paying them. Recode has more here.



Eight terrible things that can happen to you in outer space.

“Our business plan is that VCs will just give us money. Because this is San Francisco. And we have an idea.”


Retail Therapy

If you’re in the market for a cigarette boat, this one looks pretty nice.

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