StrictlyVC: June 26, 2015

Glorious Friday, we meet again. Hope you have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


Top News in the A.M.

Historic day: Same-sex marriage is a right, the Supreme Court ruled this morning.

Airbnb, the seven-year-old, San Francisco-based online home-rental marketplace, is reportedly closing in on $1.5 billion in fresh capital that would value the company at a whopping $24 billion. According to the Financial Times, the round is being led by General Atlantic; the Beijing-based investment management firm Hillhouse Capital; and Tiger Global Management. Others involved in the round reportedly include Baillie Gifford, Wellington Management, and earlier backers Fidelity and T. Rowe Price. More here.


For Potential Recruits, VC is So 1999

There’s a lot to love about being a venture capitalist. You meet with smart people every day. You make money regardless of whether or not your investments work. People assume you have smart opinions about things.

Strange as it may seem, however, a growing number of illuminati are passing up the chance to work with established firms to do their own thing. Among the newest of them: Avidan Ross, a former private investment company CTO turned angel investor, who says he met with a number of firms about tie-ups before setting out to raise his own, $31.4 million fund from mostly high-net-worth individuals. (We reported on its closing earlier this month.)

Why would anyone pass up the chance to land a plum role with a venture firm that’s managing hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars? The overarching reason, of course, is that they can.

Often, such potential recruits have already made enough money to gamble on themselves. See Aydin Sekut of Felicis Ventures, Manu Kumar of K9 Ventures and dozens of other individuals who’ve turned themselves into venture capitalists over the last decade.

It’s also easier than ever for those who haven’t yet made their fortune to raise a fund, particularly given widening interest in getting into startup deals. Venture capitalist Niko Bonatsos works for General Catalyst Partners but sees many of his peers taking alternative paths. As he puts it, “If someone can [raise and] invest $30 million or $40 million themselves, why wouldn’t they do that? It’s like, ‘You’re a young guy, you know founders. Here’s $10 million. Go invest it.”

For more on our story this morning, check out it out here on TechCrunch.


New Fundings

24M, a five-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based company whose lithium-ion cell promises to dramatically reduce manufacturing and materials costs, has raised $50 million in financing from undisclosed backers, along with a $4.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The WSJ has more here.

Andela, a year-old, New York-based accelerator that helps educate developers and connect them with employers, has reportedly raised “well over $10 million” in Series A funding led by Spark Capital, with participation from earlier investors Omidyar Network and Learn Capital. TechCrunch has much more here.

BankerBay, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based ideal origination platform that connects institutional investors with qualified investment opportunities, has raised more than $2 million in seed funding from ScaleVC and individual investors. More here.

Brazen, an eight-year-old, Arlington, Va.-based online engagement platform that allows organizations to schedule and host chat-based online meetups and events to engage a wide variety of audiences, has raised $4.7 million in funding led by Osage Venture Partners, with participation fromRandstad Innovation Fund, Militello Capital and Kegonsa Capital Partners. The company has now raised just more than $10 million altogether.

Celect, a 2.5-year-old, Boston-based company whose machine-learning technology helps retailers select and distribute their products in ways that reflect buying patterns, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by August Capital, with participation from Activant Capital Group. VentureBeat hasmore here.

Eargo, a five-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based company whose new hearing devices are modeled on a fishing fly and are nearly invisible when placed in the ear canal, has raised $13 million in Series A funding led by Maveron, with participation from Dolby Family Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Birchmere Ventures and others. GeekWire has more here.

Guavus, a nine-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based big data analytics company, has $30 million in funding from earlier backers. The company has now raised roughly $130 million altogether, including from Artiman Ventures, Sofinnova Ventures, Intel Capital, SingTel Innov8, Investor Growth CapitalQuestMark Partners and Goldman Sachs. 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 raised $3.1 million in strategic funding from Castlight Health. More here.

OneWeb, a three-year-old, London-based company that plans to launch a constellation of satellites to provide affordable high-speed internet, has raised $500 million in funding from Airbus Group, Bharti Enterprises, Hughes Network Systems, EchoStar Corp., Intelsat, Qualcomm, The Coca-Cola Company, Virgin Group, and Mexico’s Grupo Salinas. Reuters has more here.

PayRange, a two-year-old, Portland, Or.-headquartered company whose tools enable machines to accept card and digital payments, has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Matrix Partners.

Postmates, the three-year-old, San Francisco-based urban delivery platform, has raised $80 million in new funding at a more than $400 million valuation led by Tiger Global Management. Earlier backer Slow Ventures also joined the round, chipping in $5 million via a special purpose vehicle that enabled its own limited partners to invest in the company. The WSJ has the scoop here.

Redis Labs, a four-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based company that offers enterprise-grade services around the open-source NoSQL Redis database and memcached object caching system, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Bain Capital Ventures and Carmel Ventures, with participation from Silicon Valley Bank. The company, formerly known as Garantia, has now raised $28 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Sebacia, a five-year-old, Duluth, Ga.-based company that makes an acne treatment that must be administered by dermatologists, has raised $22 million in Series C funding comprised of $10 million in debt financing from Square 1 Bank and $12 million in equity from earlier backers Accuitive Medical Ventures, Domain Associates, Partners Innovation Fund and Versant Ventures. The company has now raised $55.6 million, shows Crunchbase.

ShopJester, a year-old, Danville, Ca.-based mobile retail app that allows shoppers to search for producs from 32 different retailers and segregates the items into “sales,” “new arrivals,” and more, has raised $600,000 in seed funding from numerous investors, including Roger Smith, former CEO of Silicon Valley Bank.

Stand, a year-old, San Francisco, Ca.-based mobile app that connects users with people who might inspire their own personal philanthropy, has raised $2.25 million in funding led by Resolute Ventures, with participation from Greylock Partners, Fresco Capital and entrepreneur Jack Dorsey, along with many other individual investors. More here.

Tesora, a 4.5-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based company that’s developing and supporting OpenStack Trove, a system for managing database capacity in an on-demand way, has raised $4.5 million in funding from backers, including Rho Canada Ventures and earlier backers General Catalyst PartnersCommonAngels, and Point Judith Capital. Xconomy has more here.

WeWork, a five-year-old, New York-based company whose main business is renting office space from landlords, then building it out into an incubator-like spaces and renting to startups, has raised a fresh $400 million led by Fidelity Management & Research at a $10 billion valuation. (As the WSJ notes, WeWork leases about 3.5 million square feet of space globally, yet its valuation is now nearly half that of Boston Properties, a $19 billion company that owns 45 million square feet of real estate.) Other participants in the round include earlier backers J.P. Morgan, Harvard Corp., Benchmark, T. Rowe Price, Goldman Sachs, Wellington Management and Mort Zuckerman.


New Funds

137 Ventures, a 4.5-year-old, San Francisco-based firm that provides startup employees with loans in exchange for their equity, is looking to raise $200 million for its third fund, shows an SEC filing. The company closed its second fund with $137 million almost exactly a year ago. Its first, $50 million, fund closed in 2011.

Formation 8, the three-year-old, San Franciso-based venture-capital firm known for backing virtual-reality company Oculus VR, has filed to raise a $400 million fund for late-stage investments in Asia, reports Reuters. Called F8 Asia Growth, the average size investment the fund will make is roughly $50 million, a person tells the outlet.

Grotech Ventures, a 31-year-old, Vienna, Va.-based venture firm, is looking to raise $200 million for its newest fund, shows an SEC filing that states the fund’s first sale has yet to occur.

Russian investment firm Target Ventures has opened an office in San Francisco as it seeks to diversify its portfolio of consumer Internet startups, reports VentureWire. The firm is reportedly looking to invest in Series B, C and later rounds and can commit anywhere from $1 million to $30 million in companies.



Sunrun, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based residential solar energy company, has filed for a $100 million IPO. The company has raised roughly $680 million in debt and equity over the years, shows Crunchbase. According toits S-1, its biggest shareholders include Foundation Capital, which owns 19.7 percent of the company; Accel Partners, which owns 13.2 percent; Canyon Partners, which owns 9.1 percent; Sequoia Capital, which owns 9 percent; and Madrone Partners, which owns 7.5 percent.

Sophos, the 30-year-old, Abingdon, England-based security company that makes antivirus software, firewall hardware and other products for networks, individual users and servers, went public on the London Stock Exchange earlier today, with plans to raise $125 million on a valuation of £1.013 billion ($1.6 billion). It is the the latest tech “unicorn” to come out of the UK, notes TechCrunch.



Deliv, a three-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based same-day delivery company, has acquired WeDeliver, a 2.5-year-old, Chicago-based provider of same-day delivery for local merchants. Financial terms of the deal weren’t announced. Deliv has raised $12.4 million from investors, including Westfield LabsUpfront Ventures, and Redpoint Ventures. WeDeliver had raised $800,000 in seed funding, including from Jumpstart Ventures.



Facebook released its annual diversity numbers yesterday and they look much the same as the year earlier. In May of 2013, Facebook was 69 percent male and 57 percent white. As of June 2014, it was 68 percent male and 55 white.

Deutsche Bank has started a new group dedicated to private fundraising, reports the WSJ. The group, called Private Growth Capital, will work with the bank’s existing venture-capital coverage bankers and private-wealth management, advising both companies seeking to raise capital and investors looking to jump into deals.

Bill Gates reckons he has already dropped a cool $1 billion on investments in renewable energy technologies. Now he’s looking to double that. More here.



Saints Capital in San Francisco is looking for an analyst.


Essential Reads

Google has quietly launched a GitHub competitor.



What type of introvert are you?

How having an unethical boss can make you look bad, too.

Someone is renting out a Coleman tent in the backyard of his parent’s Mountain View, Ca., home for $899 a month or $49 per day (a scary sign of the times if ever there was one!).


Retail Therapy

Wireless headset.

Instant photo coasters. (We love these.)

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