StrictlyVC: March 17, 2015

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Top News in the A.M.

Apple is planning to offer online television service by this fall.

Pinterest said yesterday that it has raised $367 million at a lofty $11 billion valuation. It isn’t done fundraising, either. The company, which isn’t disclosing its newest backers, could raise as much as $211 million more before the round closes, the company tells the WSJ.


Mary Meeker Goes to Bat for Kleiner Perkins — and Ellen Pao

In a San Francisco courtroom yesterday, Mary Meeker, the star investment analyst turned general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, took the stand, testifying that she has not experienced discrimination at Kleiner and calling the firm the “best place to be a woman in the business.”

Kleiner is currently fighting charges of gender discrimination and retaliation by former junior partner Ellen Pao, and Meeker was called as a witness for its defense. In addition to testifying that she had never personally experienced discrimination at the firm, Meeker said she has not been excluded from Kleiner Perkins events because of her gender. She also said she hasn’t observed any gender discrimination at the firm.

Meeker likely left an impression on jurors, particularly given her impressive career, from her early days at Morgan Stanley to her 19-year rise within the powerful investment bank, where she ultimately became the head of its global technology research practice.

“I had a pretty good track record of finding things before others could see them,” said Meeker, pointing to companies she’d covered from almost their outset, including Microsoft, America Online, Google, Netscape, and Alibaba. In fact, Meeker said yesterday, Kleiner had “recruited me off and on for about a decade for a whole host of things.” (She finally joined the firm in December 2010.)

Defense attorney Lynn Hermle had asked Meeker about her background to highlight the contrast between Meeker’s experience and that of Pao, who says she was denied the opportunity to advance at the firm because of her gender. Pao, who at 45 is roughly 10 years younger than Meeker, has enjoyed an impressive but far less celebrated career, including as a law firm associate, as a business development executive at numerous tech companies, and today, as the interim CEO of the site Reddit.

Still, Meeker didn’t make as ideal a witness for Kleiner as she might have, volunteering information about Pao’s investing instincts and politely pushing against some of defense attorney Lynn Hermle’s attempts to show Pao in a poor light.

Hermle, for example, asked Meeker to contrast her experience with Chi-Hua Chien — a former Kleiner investor who was promoted to a more senior role — with that of Pao, who was not promoted at the same time.

Meeker called Chien “very bright, very intense” and someone who would “sort of get on the edge of his seat and jump up a bit and get really enthusiastic about the business.” Asked afterward to describe Pao in meetings, Meeker called Pao “certainly more passive, but I think thoughtful.”

She also prefaced her comments by explaining that she had far less interaction with Pao, saying, “I was in a lot of meetings with Chi-Hua – I’d say every week. . . . With Ellen, we worked on a couple of things together.”

One of those things was the news app Flipboard, which Kleiner’s early-stage fund had backed and whose later-stage, digital growth fund, which Meeker oversees, was also considering funding. (It passed at the time, said Meeker. “It was a little early. The company didn’t have revenue at that point.”)

Pao also brought Climate Corp. to Meeker’s attention, Meeker said yesterday, occasionally facing Pao – who was seated 50 feet away — as if they were still colleagues. “It’s a company that has done quite well,” said Meeker. “It was acquired by Monsanto. Its founder is quite good, but the company focuses on offering insurance to farmers based on weather trends, which wasn’t an area where I thought any of us had particular expertise because we weren’t in the farming business.” (Climate Corp. went on to raise $107 million from investors; it sold for $930 million in October 2013, seven years after it was founded.)

Hermle separately asked Meeker if Pao had ever come to Meeker and asked her to mentor her. “Not that I recall,” said Meeker.

Meeker could have left it at that, but she added, “Bear in mind, I was the new kid on the block in 2011 and we were investing at a very rapid pace in a different area of investments than were core.”

Hermle pushed the point. “So you were available?”

“I think I’m around, though I can’t say I’m the most available person at all times,” answered Meeker.


New Fundings

Altocloud, a two-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based company whose customer care software helps businesses connect with their customers, has raised $2 million in funding led by Delta Partners, Digicel Group and ACT Venture Capital, with participation from Enterprise Ireland and Western Development Commission. The company has now raised $3 million altogether.

Birst, a 10-year-old, San Francisco-based business analytics vendor, has just raised $65 million in new funding led by Wellington Management, with participation from earlier backers Sequoia Capital, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, DAG Ventures and Northgate Capital. The company has raised $156 million altogether. Venture Capital Dispatch has much more here.

CyPhy Works, a 6.5-year-old, Danvers, Ma.-based maker of unmanned aerial vehicles, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Motorola Solutions. The company has previously raised at least $10 million from investors, including General Catalyst Partners, Felicis Ventures, and Lux Capital.

Dataminr, the six-year-old, New York-based company that analyzes tweets and other information streams to create alerts for traders, reporters and government agencies, has raised $130 million in a deal that values that company at roughly $700 million, reports the WSJ. Dataminr’s new investors include Fidelity Investments, which led the round, Wellington Management, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, and Glynn Capital Management. Earlier venture backers Venrock and Institutional Venture Partners also participated in the funding, which brings Dataminr’s total funding to $180 million.

DraftKings, the four-year-old, Boston-based daily fantasy sports site through which users can legally wager real money, is raising a new round of venture capital funding at a valuation of at least $1 billion, reports Fortune. According to Crunchbase, the company has already raised at least $75 million from investors, including Atlas Venture, GGV CapitalRedpoint Ventures and The Raine Group.

Glooko, a 4.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based company that has developed a diabetes management platform, has raised $16.5 million in Series B funding from Canaan Partners and Medtronic, along with previous investors The Social + Capital Partnership and Samsung Ventures.

Orbital Insight, a two-year-old, Mountain View, CA-based geospatial company that’s using data science to extract insight from satellite images, has raised $8.7 million in Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from Bloomberg Beta, Google Ventures. Earlier backers and Lux Capital, which provided the company with an undisclosed amount of funding last year, also joined the round.

Peatix, a four-year-old, Japan-based mobile event and ticketing startup, has raised $5 million in Series B funding led by the Tokyo-based firm Digital Garage, with participation from Singapore Press Holdings, the Japanese media firm Sunny Side Up, and earlier backers Fidelity Growth Partners Japan and Draper Nexus. The company has now raised $9.6 million altogether. Tech in Asia has more here.

Petcube, a nearly three-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose gadget and mobile community app helps pet owners connect remotely with their pets, has raised $1.1 million in seed funding co-led by AVentures Capital and Almaz Capital, with participation from SOSVentures and individual investors.

RedOwl Analytics, a 3.5-year-old, Baltimore, Md.-based company whose software helps organizations analyze their internal corporate data streams, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Blackstone Group to fund development the company’s insider-risk detection platform. RedOwl had previously raised at least $7.5 million from investors, includingConversion Ventures and Scout Capital, shows Crunchbase.

Retty, a four-year-old, Tokyo-based social site that helps people navigate Japan’s restaurants, has raised $8.24 million in Series C funding led by Fidelity Growth Partners Japan, with participation from earlier backers Gree Ventures and Mizuho Capital. Tech In Asia has more here.

TableSafe, a five-year-old, Seattle-based company that has developed a payments technology and bill-paying device for restaurants, has raised $4.5 million from undisclosed investors that brings its total funding to $15 million. The company’s earlier backers include Swiftsure Capital.

Tachyon, a months-old, Bay Area-based memory-centric storage system, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding from Andreessen Horowitz. Venture Capital Dispatch has much more here.


New Funds

The tech half of the Cambridge, Ma.-based venture capital firm Atlas Venture has closed its first fund with $200 million under a placeholder name, FKA Atlas Venture, for “formerly known as.” Now the outfit is offering $50,000 in a crowdsourcing competition to whomever comes up with the best name for the firm. (Half the money will go to the winner. Half will go to a nonprofit that’s part of a particular Boston-area philanthropy network; the winner gets to choose which one.) Our favorite suggestion so far, by Cendana Capital founder Michael Kim, is The Dome Fund.

Dutch businessman Ben Verwaayen, the former head of British Telecom and Alcatel-Lucent, is looking to raise more than 200 million euros ($212 million) for his new, London-based fund management group, Keen Ventures. The Financial Times has much more here.



Cidara Therapeutics, a 1.5-year-old, San Diego-based company that’s developing novel therapies for fungal infections, filed on Friday to raise up to $69 million in an IPO. The company had just raised has raised $42 million in Series B funding from undisclosed investors last month, bringing the total amount it has raised to $74 million, according to Crunchbase. The company’s backers include 5AM Ventures, which owns 22.1 percent of the company, along with Aisling Capital, Frazier Healthcare, InterWest Partners and Seachaid Pharmaceuticals.



Careerify, a six-year-old, Toronto-based startup that makes online recruiting software, has been acquired by LinkedIn for undisclosed terms. TechCrunch has more here.

FreeCharge, a five-year-old, Mumbai, India-based company that provides users coupons for charging their mobile plans, is in talks to sell to e-commerce juggernaut Snapdeal for more than $400 million, the WSJ reports. The negotiations are reportedly in the “advanced” stages. FreeCharge has raised at least $113 million from investors, shows Crunchbase. Its backers include Sofina, ru-Net Holdings, Sequoia Capital, Tybourne, and Valiant Capital Partners.

Lookback, a two-year-old, Stockholm-based company that makes a user testing feedback app, has acquired a U.K.-based startup called Reissued that makes a popular screencasting app called QuickCast. TechCrunch has more here.

Patreon and Subbable, two subscription-based funding site for artists, have joined forces. TechCrunch has more here.



Brent Callinicos is stepping down as Uber‘s CFO. Callinicos joined the company in 2013 from Google, where he was treasurer and chief accountant. The Wall Street Journal has more here about the move, which is widely seen as Callinicos making way for a public company CFO. Here are the related emails that were sent out to investors about his departure if you’re interested.

Polaris Partners is announcing two new principals this morning: Paulina Hill and Dan Lombard. Hill joined Polaris Partners in 2011 and has been working as a senior associate. She already sits on three boards for Polaris. Lombard has just joined the firm from H.I.G. Growth Partners. Boston Business Journal has more here.


Essential Reads

Next week, at its developer conference, Facebook is expected to announce a tool to help mobile app developers measure whether an ad caused people to download an app, according to The Information.

Delivering on a partnership announced last summer, eBay is launching high-end auctions with Sotheby’s.



Just as you suspected: Inactive kids grow up to be middle age couch potatoes.

Florida man.

In honor of today: 15 reasons everyone should visit Ireland.


Retail Therapy

Cuddle Clones!

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