StrictlyVC: June 5, 2015

Friday! We’d squeeze your cheeks if we could.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

(Note: No column today.)


Top News in the A.M.

Apple predicted that 2015 would be the year of Apple Pay. But many retailers remain skeptical about the payment system, says a new Reuters report.

In more potentially bad news for Apple: Just days before it plans to reveal a music streaming service, the company is still negotiating with record labels over terms, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.


New Fundings

Blue Bottle Coffee, a 13-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based chain of artisanal coffee shops, has raised $70 million in new funding led by Fidelity Management and Research, pushing its total funding — including from True Ventures,Lowercase Capital, Index Ventures and Morgan Stanley — to $110 million. More on the company, which recently merged with Tartine Bakery, as well as expanded into Tokyo, here.

Carena, a 15-year-old, Seattle-based telemedicine company that provides assistance via webcam and over the phone, has raised $13.3 million in Series B funding from Cambia Health Solutions, McKesson Ventures, Catholic Health Initiatives and Martin Ventures. The company has now raised $33.1 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

China Business News, a Chinese financial media company that’s part of 14-year-old, Shanghai, China-based Shanghai Media Group, has sold a stake in its business to Alibaba Group for $193.6 million. The two companies plan to jointly develop a financial data service that can make use of Alibaba’s database of e-commerce statistics like sales trends, reports the WSJ.

Diffbot, a five-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based company whose machine learning and computer vision algorithems can ostensibly find, extract and understand topics from any web page, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Bloomberg Beta. The company had previously raised $2 million in angel funding, including from Webb Investment Network and Brad Garlinghouse.

ICRealtime, a 10-year-old, Pompano Beach, Fl.-based company that makes video hardware and software for enterprise and consumer applications, has raised $15 million in funding from undisclosed sources. More here.

Joyus, a four-year-old, San Francisco, Ca.-based direct response online video network that creates and distributes lifestyle content for women and monetizes it through e-commerce, has raised $24 million in new funding led by Marker LLC and Steamboat Ventures. Earlier backers Accel Partners, InterWest and Time Warner Investments also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $43.4 million.

Jugnoo, a year-old, Chandigarh, India-based startup that’s tackling transportation (via on-demand rickshaws) and on-demand delivery, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Snow Leopard, with participation from mobile commerce firm Paytm and several earlier, seed investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Lyra Health, a six-month-old, Burlingame, Ca.-based company aiming to help employers and health plans better manage populations of people with behavioral-health illnesses, has been seeded by Venrock and former Facebook CFO David Ebersman; they founded the company together earlier this year, reports Recode.

One Drop, a six-month-old, New York and Austin, Tex.-based digital consumer health company that’s developing a diabetes management software, hardware and services platform, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by RRE Ventures, with participation from BoxGroupLAUNCH FundCapital Factory, and Neu Ventures. One Drop was founded by Jeff Dachis, who’d earlier cofounded the digital marketing firm Razorfish. More here.

Orbitera, a four-year-old, West Hollywood, Ca.-based company whose SaaS product optimizes sales and services on cloud platforms, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Resolute Ventures. More here.

PennyOwl, a nearly three-year-old, New York City-based smart allowance app with learning features, has raised $1.3 million seed funding from numerous investors including Silicon Valley Bank and Enterprise Ireland. More here.

Qianhai Mobile, an affiliate of the Nasdaq-listed media firm ChinaVision that provides wireless internet access on a range of commuter routes, including bus services across 18 cities in China, has raised $11.5 million in funding from Baidu as it pushes into the public WiFi space. More here.

S4M, a three-year-old, Paris, France-based tech platform that provides detailed analytics about the performance of mobile ad campaigns, has raised $8 million in Series A funding from Entrepreneurs Ventures and Bpifrance Digital Fund.

SimplyTapp, a nearly 3.5-year-old, Austin, Tx.-based mobile payment software maker that enables users to make transactions with their smartphones, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Verizon Ventures. The company had earlier raised roughly $10 million from investors, shows Crunchbase, including Texas Venture LabsLightspeed Venture Partners, and Blue Sky Capital.

Speexx, a 21-year-old, Munich, Germany-based provider of cloud-based communication and language skills training for large organizations, has raised $5 million in Series A funding, including from Ventech and Alto Invest. More here.

Too Faced Cosmetics, a 17-year-old, Irvine Ca.-based global beauty brand, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from General Atlantic, which is acquiring a majority stake in the company from Weston Presidio. More here.

VideoBlocks, a five-year-old, Reston, Va.-based company that provides unlimited royalty-free stock video via a subscription service, has raised $8 million in funding led by North Atlantic Capital. Variety has more here.

Yamsafer, a four-year-old, Ramallah, Palestine-based hotel booking platform serving the Arab region, has raised $3.5 million in Series B funding round led byGlobal Founders Capital, along with existing investor Sadara Ventures and other undisclosed investors. Wamda has more here.

Zopper, a four-year-old, Noida, India-based on-demand ecommerce company focused on bulky items like home appliances, has raised $20 million in Series B funding from Tiger Global Management and Nirvana Venture Advisors. NextBigWhat has more here.



SunGard, the 32-year-old, financial software maker, filed for an IPO yesterday. The company was acquired 10 years ago by investment firms Silver Lake Partners, Bain Capital, TPG Capital, Goldman Sachs Capital PartnersThe Blackstone Group, and Providence Equity Partners. The acquisition by the entire consortium was for nearly $11.4 billion, according to Reuters. It’s one of the longest-held investments in the history of private equity, notes Bidness.



Mojix, an 11-year-old, L.A.-based provider of wide area sensor networks, has acquired TierConnect, a 13-year-old, Plymouth, Mi.-based platform for the Internet-of-things. No financial terms were disclosed. TierConnect doesn’t appear to have raised venture funding. Meanwhile, Mojix has raised $64 million from investors, including Mercury Partners, Oak Investment PartnersOMERS VenturesRed Rock Ventures, and InnoCal Venture Capital. More here.

Wahanda, a seven-year-old, London-based online hair and beauty marketplace, has acquired Treatwell, a competitor in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, for $38 million (€34 million). TechCrunch has more about the deal — and consolidation in beauty e-commerce sector more broadly — here.



JPMorgan‘s Jamie Dimon is now a billionaire, which is kind of unusual. “The odds are much, much lower for a bank CEO becoming a billionaire than a guy going to a hedge fund or private equity,” says business school professor Roy Smith.

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and political activist Sean Eldridge were once the ultimate team, but Hughes’s controversial purchase of The New Republic and Eldridge’s failed run for Congress made the once-heroes villains. Vanity Fair looks at what went wrong.

Another TechCrunch writer becomes a venture capitalist; this time it’s Ryan Lawler headed off to 500 Startups to become a venture partner. In a post announcing the move, Lawler preemptively offers: “No, I don’t think the ‘TC to VC’ career track is actually a thing.” (Former TechCrunch writer M.G. Siegler is an investor with Google Ventures; TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington runs his own venture firm, CrunchFund.)

Earlier this week, Ellen Pao filed a notice of appeal in her gender discrimination case against former employer Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, but Recode suggests the appeal is “more likely a play for leverage in the ongoing fight over who will pay for millions of dollars in court costs.” Indeed, says its report, Kleiner is about to disclose in a public filing that Pao asked the venture firm for roughly $2.7 million in order not to appeal.


Essential Reads

Xapo founder Wences Casares and other members of the bitcoin wallet company are defendants in a fraud and breach of contract lawsuit that could threaten Xapo’s future, reports Fortune.

A group of researchers at the Chinese web services company Baidu have been barred from participating in an international competition for artificial intelligence technology after organizers discovered its scientists broke the contest’s rules. The New York Times has the story here.

Apple is bringing Jawbone‘s fitness trackers back to its stores.

Designbook, a young, Burlington, Vt.-based  peer-to-peer marketplace for emerging businesses and entrepreneurs, filed for trademark applications last September. Then it received word from gulp, Facebook.

Twitter has killed off Politwoops — a website that automatically monitors politicians’ profiles for deleted tweets and publicizes them. Business Insider has more here.



The Red Cross raised $500 million in Haiti relief. Unfortunately, no one knows where it went.

A Chinese company is building a $150 million Titanic replica (and, eek, plans to stage reenactments of its sinking).

At the French open, tennis isn’t always the main course. (H/T: D.L.Chapin)


Retail Therapy

The Omega Globemaster, explained.

The Father’s Day Gift Guide, by Inside Hook.  (It’s coming up in two weeks. Jump to it!)

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