StrictlyVC: May 12, 2015

Happy Tuesday, everyone. We’re so looking forward to seeing a couple hundred of you tomorrow night at Galvanize in San Francisco!

Quick reminder: check-in begins at 5 and the program starts around 6. You must have a ticket to get in, meaning you purchased a ticket at Eventbrite and are now on our guest list. (Sorry to be Scrooge-y; it’s largely for security reasons.)

No column today — StrictlyC was a little overwhelmed with funding news this morning. We’ll be back with more good stuff tomorrow.:)


Top News in the A.M.

Verizon Communications, the largest mobile phone company in the U.S., is acquiring AOL for $4.4 billion, or $50 a share, a 17 percent premium over AOL’s closing share price of $42.59 yesterday. AOL’s “advertising platform provides a key tool for us to develop future revenue streams,” said Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam in a statement this morning. Said AOL CEO Tim Armstrong in a letter to employees:”The deal will give our content businesses more distribution and it will give our advertisers more distribution and mobile-first features. The deal will add scale and it will add a mobile lens to everything we do inside of our content, video, and ads strategy.”

That may not be all, however. As Recode notes in a report about the deal, AOL owns Web properties like Huffington Post and TechCrunch, but it’s been more actively investing in services that help it and other publishers automate their ad sales, a high-growth but low-margin business. It’s possible, as a result, that Verizon will spin out some or all of its content operations with a third partner — “perhaps German publisher Axel Springer,” reports Recode. Indeed, in an interview with Re/code about the Verizon deal, Armstrong seemed to leave the door open. “We’ve spoken to partners about content and scaling . . . Obviously we’ve seen a lot of interest in the content brands we have. So over the course of the summer, stay tuned.”


New Fundings

Autonomic Technologies, an eight-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company whose microstimulator technology treats severe headaches, has raised $38 million in Series D funding led By Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners, with partipation from Forbion Capital Partners and earlier backers Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Interwest Partners, Novartis Venture Fund, Aberdare Ventures, and the Cleveland Clinic. According to Crunchbase, the company has now raised $93 million altogether.

Bit Stew Systems, a 10-year-old, Burnaby, British Columbia-based company whose software platform provides real-time analytics, dynamic event management and a way to integrate into both IT and operational systems and applications, has raised $17.2 million in Series B funding led by GE Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Cisco and Yaletown Venture Partners. The company has now raised at least $25.7 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Blue Danube Systems, a nine-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based company whose hardware and software product aims to increase average user data rates for wireless communication systems, has raised raised $16 million in Series B funding from AT&T, Northgate Capital and earlier backer Sequoia Capital. The company has now raised $33.7 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

Cartiva, a four-year-old, Alpharetta, Ga.-based company whose products are designed to treat cartilage injuries and osteoarthritis, has raised $8.5 million in Series D funding led by earlier investor New Enterprise Associates, with participation from new backer Windham Ventures Partners.

Cleeng, a four-year-old, Amsterdam, Netherlands-based specialist in video e-commerce for sports and entertainment companies, has raised €1.1 million in Series A funding led by earlier backer Pascal Cagni, a former Apple VP. The company has now raised  €1.5 million ($1.7 million) to date, it says. More here.

Credit Sesame, a five-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based personal finance company that helps users manage their money and investments, has raised an additional $16 million in an oversubscribed Series D, with plans to raise as much as $20 million in the near future, reports TechCrunch. The new round was led by Syncora Alternative Investments, with participation from earlier investorsMenlo Ventures, IA Capital, Globespan Capital Partners, Inventus Capital, and numerous angel investors. The company has now raised more than $35 million altogether, says TechCrunch.

Diagnostic BioSystems, a 21-year-old, Pleasanton, Ca-based FDA-registered medical device company that develops specialty immunohistochemistry reagents, has raised an undisclosed amount of growth capital from BroadOak Capital Partners, a life sciences-focused merchant bank.

DocuSign, a 12-year-old, San Francisco-based e-signatures specialist, has raised a fresh $233 million in funding at reported $3 billion valuation led by Brookside Capital and Bain Capital Ventures. The company has now raised $440 million together. The WSJ has more here.

Electronic Warfare Associates, a 38-year-old,  Herndon, Va.-based company that sells electronic warfare, cyber security and advanced commercial test tool systems to the U.S. and allied-nation government agencies (as well as commercial customers), has raised $21.5 million in debt led by American Capital.

FST Biometrics, a 7.5-year-old, Rishon Lezion, Israel-based company whose biometric identification applications combine facial recognition and behavioral analytics, has raised $15 million in funding led by GMF Capital. According to Crunchbase, the company had previously raised at least $5 million.

Hungryroot, an eight-month-old, New York-based company that’s promising pre-packaged “farm fresh” seven-minute meals that last in the refrigerator for up to 14 days, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, with participation from Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Crosslink Capital, and KarpReilly. More here.

IEX, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based upstart stock trading platform, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Sapphire Ventures. The company had hired Claudia Crowley, a former regulatory chief of the Big Board, as its chief regulatory officer back in March. Last fall, IEX raised $75 million  from investors, including Spark Capital and Franklin Templeton Investments.

Immediately, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based company that’s building mobile tools for salespeople, has raised $2 million in seed funding, including from Maiden Lane Ventures, Streamlined Ventures, Galvanize VenturesQueensBridge Venture Partners and numerous individual investors, including Naval Ravikant and Haroon Mokhtarzada.

JHL Biotech, a three-year-old, Hsinchu, China-based biopharmaceutical company that’s aiming to develop and commercialize affordable biologic medicines, has raised $45.6 million in Series C funding from Sungent BioVenture, Liwick Investment Management, and an unnamed “global crossover fund,” along with earlier backer Milestone Capital. The company has now raised $135 million altogether.

Juventas Therapeutics, an 8.5-year-old, Cleveland, Oh.-based clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing non-viral gene therapies to treat advanced cardiovascular diseases, has raised $13.5 million in new funding. Green Cross Holdings and POSCO Capital led a $7.5 million Series B-2 round in the company that included participation from other new and earlier investors; Juventas also secured $6 million in debt financing from Oxford Finance. More here.

Knod, a two-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based online experience-based employment and learning program, has raised $6.2 million from investors, including Epic Ventures and Impact Investment Leaders. More here.

NerdWallet, a 6.5-year-old, San Francisco-based personal finance site, has raised $64 million in new funding led by Institutional Venture Partners, with participation from RRE Ventures, iGlobe Partners and angel investors. The company has now raised $100 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

StrongDM, a three-year-old, New York-based company whose monitoring service provides automated real-time data error detection for businesses, has raised $800,000 in seed funding led by Bloomberg Beta, with participation from Data Collective, SocialStarts and venture investor Jerry Neumann, among others. More here.

Synoste Oy, a three-year-old, Espoo, Finland-based medical device company that’s developing implants for the correction of skeletal deformations, has raised €2.2 million ($2.5 million) in Series A funding from Metsola Ventures and former Nokia executive Petri Pöyhönen, along with earlier backers High-Tech Gründerfonds, Finnvera, Lifeline Ventures, Mectalent Oy and unnamed angel investors. The company has also just received a € 1.0M European Eurostars grant.

Talkspace, a three-year-old, New York-based startup that provides users access to professional and licensed therapists on their mobile devices (or via the web), has raised $9.5 million in Series A round led by earlier investor Spark Capital, with participation from earlier backer SoftBank. Previously, Talkspace had raised $3.5 million, including from Metamorphic Ventures.

Vested Finance, a months-old, Austin, Tex.-based fintech startup focused on student financing, has raised $5 million in seed funding led by Sandleigh Ventures. More here.

Wave Accounting, a 4.5-year-old, Toronto-based company that makes a suite of online small business software products, has raised $10 million in Series C funding from CRV, OMERS Ventures, The Social+Capital Partnership and an undisclosed strategic investor. The company has now raised $34.6 million, according to Crunchbase.

Zapstitch, a two-year-old, Bangalore, India-based cloud data integration platform, has raised $2 million in pre-series A funding from Helion Ventures and earlier backer Orios Venture Partners. More here.


New Funds

Mission Bay Capital, a San Francisco, Ca.-based seed-stage venture firm that invests in life science companies to emerge from the University of California and the San Francisco Bay Area ecosystem more broadly, has closed its second fund with $25 million. Its limited partners include include Brook Byers of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; the UCSF Foundation; the William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation; Sobrato Capital; and Capital Pacific, among others., a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based early-stage venture that invests in startups using data science models, is targeting $25 million for its debut firm, shows an SEC filing that sales the first sale has yet to occur. More here.

Seed Equity Capital Partners, a new, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based seed fund — a spin-off of the investment bank Seed Equity Ventures — is hoping to raise a $10 million debut fund, shows an SEC filing that states the first sale has yet to occur. More here.

SherpaVentures is raising a new $175 million fund, according to an SEC filing that was flagged by TechCrunch. This is the firm’s second early-stage fund; its first fund closed with $150 million. SherpaVentures has separately raised a $250 million fund called SherpaEverest that’s designed to support growth-stage companies.



WunWun, a three-year-old, New York-based on-demand delivery service, is closing its doors and some of its assets are being scooped up by Alfred, a 1.5-year-old startup that manages home-related on-demand orders. WunWun had raised $17.5 million from investors, including Alfred has raised $12.5 million from investors, including Spark Capital, SV Angel, CrunchFund, SherpaVentures, and New Enterprise Associates. TechCrunch has the story here.



Art Coviello, formerly executive chairman of RSA, has joined the Menlo Park, Ca.-based venture firm Rally Ventures as a venture partner.

The 22 most memorable quotes from the new Elon Musk book, ranked.

Entrepreneur Kevin Ryan — who has cofounded Gilt Groupe, Business Insider, MongoDB, and the wedding registry startup Zola — is taking the wraps off yet another new company: a visual search and discovery platform for workplace design called Kontor. TechCrunch has more here.

Jawbone, a San Francisco-based company that makes activity trackers, wireless speakers and other products, has hired  as its new president. Samat is currently VP of shopping and travel products at Google, but starts at the company this month, reporting to Jawbone’s CEO and cofounder Hosain Rahman. Recode has the story here.

Kevin Thau has joined Spark Capital as general partner in its San Francisco office. Thau was Twitter’s business development head for five years before becoming COO of Jelly, a (seemingly flagging) question-and-answer platform cofounded by Twitter cofounder Biz Stone. More here.


Essential Reads

Why the ruling against the NSA’s phone records program could have huge implications.

In case you were curious: Twitter spent more than $86 million to acquire livestreaming app Periscope and social media talent agency Niche earlier this year. Recode has the news here.



Five hacks to get faster streaming video.

A supercut of the many times Owen Wilson has said “wow” in a movie.

A custom-built electric racer for one of the more surreal (and deadliest) road races in the world, happening next month on the Isle of Man.


Retail Therapy

Lotus Belle luxury tents. When you’re not so into “roughing it” in the great outdoors. (Hey, we’re with you.)

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