StrictlyVC: May 4, 2015

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Top News in the A.M.

Silicon Valley executive and SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg passed away suddenly Friday night at age 47. Goldberg, beloved by friends and the many fellow entrepreneurs, investors, and former employees who knew him, was married to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in 2004 when both were executives elsewhere; the couple has two children. In recent years, Goldberg had become renowned for being a highly supportive husband, as described by Sandberg in her best-selling book, Lean In. In fact, notes a New York Times article published yesterday, Goldberg was a lifelong advocate for women. (Business Insider also ran a nice piece about Goldberg over the weekend that you can find here.)


Accel Partners’s Fred Destin on What’s Changing (Fast) in Europe

Almost exactly a year ago, Belgian-born venture capitalist Fred Destin decided to leave his longtime post with Atlas Venture in Boston for Accel Partners in London. Last week, over a charcuterie board at a French cafe in San Francisco, Destin talked with StrictlyVC about the move, what the Accel team in London shares in common with their U.S. peers (and what they don’t), and the newest trend in European startup funding. Some of that chat, edited for length, follows.

Accel London has been around since 2000 and closed a $475 million fund in 2013. 

Yes, and started investing it in April of last year. The fund was raised with maybe a little bit of anticipation. Also, sometimes you meet no entrepreneurs you want to back, then you meet five at the same time, so our pace is always a little inconsistent.

How big is the team?

We have six partners, one VP, one principal, three associates. We have a habit of promoting from within. I’m a rare external hire.

How closely tied are you to the team here in the U.S.?

We run separate funds, but it’s the same brand and we have a fair amount of overlap [in terms of LPs], and I believe we have 18 coinvestments that come in a variety of flavors. Both funds had been looking at SaaS accounting for small businesses, and in the end, [New Zealand-based] Xero is the only company you want to back in this field – we think it can kill Intuit – so we [collectively] made a $100 million investment in the company. We’ve also co-invested in [the newly public online marketplace] Etsy and [the Australia-based collaboration software company] Atlassian. Sometimes, it’s European-born companies, too. When we backed World Remit, a remittance business, half of its $40 million Series A came from the U.S. and the other half came from London.

What if you wanted more than 50 percent? Do you ever compete with the U.S. team? 

I can’t really think of a case where we’ve  been competitive. They’re a really disciplined team on investments, and so are we. If we find something that we think is really great, we’ll say, hey, we can syndicate with Index [Ventures] or we can try to move all the money through the Accel partnership. [The U.S. firm] looks at [the deals] independently. But there are definite benefits [to partnering], as when we find a little gem like Showroomprive (a Paris-based online shopping giant that sells discounted clothes, cosmetics and household items). It was bootstrapped and had got to quite a large size, and [my London colleague] Harry [Nelis] went to meet them and said, “We can write a single check. I’ll bring Palo Alto into it so you have one investor and one board member.” So we put in [roughly $47 million] in a single shot, with both funds contributing.

Can you see a future where you won’t be Accel London but something else? DFJ and Benchmark obviously decided to reign in their brands at different points.

You learn from what happens in the past. I’m not sure you can scale venture very well. Having general partners in London who effectively decide on what happens to the firm makes decision-making really simple.

We’re also in close cooperation with Palo Alto to make sure we represent the brand in the same way.

How institutionalized are your communications?

The important decisions, like when to hold an annual LP meeting or when to fundraise, are discussed extensively between the groups, but the rest of our discussions are very organic and multithreaded. You don’t want to fight the natural order of things. We’re very careful about not sharing too much information about the companies we look at, but we definitely share expertise and views and kind of help each other be better.

It helps when you have funds that are performing well and teams that are high quality. If one part of the organization was doing well and the other wasn’t, it might become more tense, but that’s not the case.

For more from our sit-down with Destin, including his insights into how hedge funds and Rocket Internet specifically are changing Europe’s startup scene, continue reading here.

New Fundings

Aegea Medical, an eight-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based medical device company whose water vapor treatment system is designed to treat abnormal uterine bleeding, just raised $36 million in Series C funding from BioMed Ventures, Solas Bioventures, and earlier backers Alloy Ventures, Delphi Ventures, and Covidien/Medtronic. The company has now raised at least $55.4 million in equity and debt, shows Crunchbase.

AltSchool, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based network of new schools with a tech-heavy, personalized learning approach, has raised $75 million in new equity funding and $25 million in venture debt to grow its enrollment and add to the four schools it currently operates. Earlier backers Andreessen Horowitz and Founders Fund led the new round, reports the WSJ, with participation from Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s donor-advised fund; Emerson Collective; First Round Capital; Learn Capital; the foundation of venture capitalist John Doerr; Harrison Metal; Jonathan Sackler; Omidyar Network; Adrian Aoun; and other individual investors. AltSchool had previously raised $33 million in equity and $11 million in debt from Silicon Valley Bank. StrictlyVC talked in January with founder Max Ventilla about ballooning demand for the school.

Artivest, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based company that pools the assets of individual investors into single purpose vehicles that invest in both private equity and hedge funds, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by KKR. Other participants in the round include earlier backers Peter Thiel, Nyca Partners, Anthemis Group, and FinTech Collective. KKR, which has close to $100 billion in assets under management, tells TechCrunch that early-stage investments, of which the firm now has a few, will probably never be a “significant portion” of the firm’s balance sheet but that it could reach into the “hundreds of millions of dollars.” Artivest was co-founded by James Waldinger, who previously worked for Thiel’s hedge fund, Clarium Capital Management. (Thiel is known for working with and otherwise continuing to support previous employees.)

BlueLine Grid, a two-year-old, New York-based mobile messaging platform that’s based on verified identity (it connects local, state, and federal agencies with one another), has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from In-Q-Tel.

CareCloud, a six-year-old, Miami, Fla.-based company that sells practice-management and electronic health-record software to physician practices, has raised $15 million from unnamed earlier backers. The company has now collected roughly $96 million from investors altogether, shows Crunchbase. Its known backers include Adams Street Partners, Hercules Technology Growth Capital, Intel Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, and Tenaya Capital.

Culinary Agents, a nine-month-old, New York-based job matching site for people in the hospitality industry, has raised $3 million in funding led by strategic investor Metro AG, a global retailer based in Germany that operates supermarkets, consumer electronics stores, department stores, theme stores and more. According to Crunchbase, Culinary Agents had previously raised $1.7 million in seed funding from Mesa VenturesRRE VenturesCorrelation Ventures, and On Grid Ventures.

Forte Research Systems, a 15-year-old, Madison, Wi.-based company that makes specialized clinical research management software, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Primus Capital. More here.

Gameit, a 10-month-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based free mobile trivia app that builds trivia games around branded videos and offers users chances to win featured products, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding from DAK Capital and individual investors. More here.

Kano Computing, a two-year-old, London-based company that makes computer and coding kits for people of all ages, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Breyer Capital, with participation from Collaborative Fund and Jim O’Neill, a former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. The company had previously raised $1.4 million on Kickstarter.

NeuroVigil, an eight-year-old, La Jolla, Ca.-based neurotechnology company whose portable monitor reads brain wave data and is used by the pharmaceutical industry in chemical trials, has raised a second (undisclosed) amount of financing that it claims more than doubles the post-money valuation it received when it raised an (undisclosed) amount of seed funding in 2011. Investors include First Round Capital cofounder Howard Morgan, entrepreneur Elon Musk, investor Tim Draper, and venture firms DFJ andZone Ventures.

Nutiva, a 16-year-old, Richmond, Ca.-based brand of all-organic coconut oil, chia seeds, hemp foods, and red palm oil, has secured a $21 million senior credit facility from MB Business Capital.

Real Matters, an 11-year-old, Toronto, Ontario-based platform that provides property valuation, collateral risk management and data analytic services to the real estate lending and insurance markets, has raised $60 million in new funding co-led by earlier investor Whitecap Venture Partners. Other investors in the round were not disclosed. Real Matters has now raised at least $127 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Retale, a 1.5-year-old, Chicago-based company whose mobile app allows users to browse store circulars from their smartphones, has raised $12 million in funding from earlier backers, including the European media giant Axel Springer. TechCrunch has more here.

Tradelab, a three-year-old, Bangalore, India-based startup that’s developed an online trading platform for both brokers as well as casual traders, has raised $390,000 in seed funding from Rainmatter, a fin-tech startup incubator.

Wahanda, a seven-year-old, London-based hair and beauty marketplace, has raised $46 million in new funding from earlier backer Recruit Holdings, which now owns 80 percent of the business. To build its stake, Recruit acquired the shares of earlier investors such as Fidelity, 14W, Lepe Partners and ASI. The Telegraph has more here.


After 20 years at the helm of Cisco, John Chambers is stepping down to become executive chairman. His replacement as CEO: Chuck Robbins, the company’s senior vice president of worldwide field operations, who joined Cisco in 1997 and assumes his new position in July. Fortune has more here.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina just announced that she’s running for U.S. president, but she apparently forgot to register her domain names beforehand. As Gizmodo notes, somebody has already grabbed, and it’s “definitely not her PAC.”

Business Insider interviews Don Harrison, the Google VP “responsible for Google’s billion-dollar acquisitions.”

There’s a fight brewing in San Francisco over a new arena for the Golden State Warriors NBA team. Tech heavyweights like investor Ron Conway and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff are pushing to have it built, but a newly formed nonprofit, whose apparently well-heeled backers include local political consultant Jack Davis, wants to save the land for the future expansion of a nearby medical center. To give you some sense of how things are going, Davis wasn’t above calling Conway a “bag of crap” in an interview with the San Francisco Business Times last week. More here.


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


India outpaced China in the number of deals struck by venture capital funds in the first quarter of 2015, with 69 deals compared with China’s 66, according to a report by CB Insights. China was still ahead of India in terms of deal value at roughly $3 billion compared with $1.35 billion in India, but deal value in India still represented a 225 percent jump from the first quarter of 2014. The Times of India has more here.

By the way, here’s a recent, related report on the India’s rising online grocery delivery industry that you might want to check out.

Essential Reads

Apple is reportedly pushing music labels to kill free Spotify streaming ahead of its Beats relaunch, and the Department of Justice has noticed.

Google is this morning announcing that it’s backing an alternative to Docker, cloud computing’s next big thing.

The media companies with “the most exciting video outfits aren’t Condé Nast, or the Times, or even CNN or MTV. They are upstarts making content that looks nothing like the footage you’d see on television,” reports Fortune. More on the big battle for the small screen here.


An Argentine company has designed tooth implants for the country’s rugby players who have lost teeth in games. And hey, good news, they also function as bottle openers.

The 2016 U.S. presidential race: A cheat sheet.


Retail Therapy

The Volkswagon e-Golf, when you want to drive an electric car without screaming, “I drive an electric car!”

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