StrictlyVC: July 6, 2015

Welcome back, everyone. Hope you had a terrific Fourth of July weekend.:)


Top News in the A.M.

Google is testing a carpooling service for commuters in Israel.

Apple just filed a new patent that will let people send money to one another directly.

Yesterday, while millions watched the Women’s World Cup, one of the world’s most notorious security firms was being hacked. More here.


China-Based Firms Backing Out of U.S. Indices? Maybe Not

It’s been a big story of late. As of mid-June, 14 U.S.-traded China-based companies had received buyout offers valued at a collective $22.4 billion, according to Dealogic. The highest profile of the bunch is Internet services provider Qihoo 360, which, several weeks ago, announced it had received a buyout offer led by its chairman and CEO — one that would make it the “largest take-private deal of a U.S.-listed company,” said the WSJ.

The reason for all the take-private talk? China’s stock market, which has roared along for much of this year, thanks to a series of moves by the Chinese government, including cutting benchmark interest rates, reducing stock market transaction fees — even reconsidering its stance on what are called variable interest entity structures, which are used by China-based companies to list in the U.S. and are hard to unwind.

China, in short, wants its companies to come home.

“The government wants to build its own capital markets,” says Glenn Solomon, a managing partner of the cross-border venture firm GGV Capital who we talked with last week. “It wants to see capital stay in China and continue to be invested in China.”

The question is whether companies are smart to listen.

(More on what’s changing fast in China here.)


New Fundings

23andMe, the nine-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based human genome research company, is raising a giant new round of funding, shows an SEC filingthat says it’s targeting $150 million and has so far raised $79.1 million. The company had previously raised $111.9 million in funding from investors, including Google Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, GenentechJohnson and Johnson, and Yuri Milner. Fortune has more here.

AffinityLive, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based company that helps service businesses via its cloud-based technologies that run sales, projects and billing on the same platform, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by the Australian venture firm Blackbird Ventures, with participation from Rothenberg Ventures and a handful of angels. TechCrunch has more here.

BankBazaar, a seven-year-old, Chennai, India-based startup that helps users compare financial products online, has raised $60 million in Series C funding led by Amazon, with participation from Fidelity Growth Partners, Mousse Partners, and returning investors Sequoia Capital and Walden International. TechCrunch has more here.

Bizzy, a months-old, Jakarta, Indonesia-based business-to-business marketplace, has raised $2.5 million from regional venture firm Ardent Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

CultureAlley, a three-year-old, Jaipur, India-based online language learning platform, has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding from Tiger Global Management, with participation from earlier backers Kae Capital and 500 Startups. VCCircle has the story here.

eTouches, a seven-year-old, Norwalk, Ct.-based in-cloud event management software maker, has raised $10 million in new funding shows an SEC filing. The company had previously raised $22 million from investors, including Cava Capital and Greycroft Partners.

HandyHome, a six-month-old, Mumbai, India-based company whose service sounds a bit like that of Geek Squad (the Best Buy subsidiary), has raised $500,000 in seed funding from Bessemer Venture Partners and Kae CapitalMore here.

Kuldat, a three-year-old, Boston, Ma.- and Milan, Italy-based maker of marketing and sales software, has raised €1.5 million ($1.7 million) in funding from United Ventures. More here.

Sailsquare, a three-year-old, Milan, Italy-based platform focused on sailing holidays (it presents uses with profiles of skippers, boats, user reviews and a payment platform), has raised €500,000 ($555,700) in seed funding from backers, including Ligurcapital.

Salsify, a nearly three-year-old, Boston, Ma.-based company whose software helps businesses manage the content about their products, has raised $16.6 million in Series B funding led by Venrock, with participation from earlier investors Matrix Partners, North Bridge Venture Partners, and investor Michael Skok (formerly of North Bridge). The company has now raised $24.6 million altogether.


New Funds

The private equity firm Cathay Capital Private Equity has launched Sino-French Innovation Fund, a cross-border investment vehicle that plans to fund start-ups in France and China, and to raise between €200 million to €250 million ($277 million) in funding toward that end. China Money Network has more here.

There’s a new venture fund in town called Crystal Towers, reports TechCrunch. Backed by several early Y Combinator alums, it will start out with between $90 million and $100 million to invest in the most promising companies in every batch of startups to pass through the famed accelerator program. More here.



Publicly traded Allergan is acquiring Oculeve, a development-stage medical device company focused on developing treatments for dry eye disease. The purchase price for the all-cash transaction: a $125 million upfront payment, with the possibility of future, milestone payments related to Oculeve’s lead development program. Oculeve had raised at least $32.3 million from investors, shows Crunchbase, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and New Enterprise Associates.



Ratan Tata, the famed chairman emeritus of the software conglomerate Tata Sons, has joined the Singapore-based venture firm Jungle Ventures as a special advisor just a few weeks after accepting a similar role with the firm Kalaari Capital in Bangalore, India. The Economic Times has the story here.

Industry observers seem convinced anew that the responsibilities of Jony IveApple‘s newly appointed Chief Design Officer, are shrinking — not growing. More here.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers gives Business Insider a peek into its “thrilling” summer internship program.

Pejman Mar Ventures, the seed-stage fund, is launching a $250,000 startup competition. Any student, faculty or alum of UC Berkeley can win it. More here.



Cisco Investments is looking to add an associate. The job is in San Jose.


Essential Reads

Securities regulators have launched a broad investigation into whether hedge funds and other investors are improperly selling hot private technology stocks,reports the WSJ.

Can Lyft pull an Avis?

Barron’s takes readers inside Legacy Venture, a Silicon Valley-based fund-of-funds with $1 billion under management that funnels investors’ original capital, along with any profits earned, into their favorite causes and charities. Though Barron’s dubs it “high-risk” philanthropy, its performance sounds pretty strong, with holdings that include low-cost stakes in Uber, Airbnb and Dropbox.



Before there was Wired, there was Mondo 2000.

The science of Pixar’s “Inside Out.”

Reviving a masterwork.


Retail Therapy

The smallest GoPro yet.

Coloring books for adults.

When Mister Whiskers deserves the very best.

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