StrictlyVC: July 24, 2015

It is Friday! Can I get a “Hallelujah?”

Quick notes: This kid (Connie) is dialing back for a few weeks starting Monday, while talented writer-investor Semil Shah takes over the column. He has a lot of terrific content lined up for you, so stay tuned.

Also, for those of you who don’t read every day, our September 16 event in San Francisco is fast approaching and we now have less than 50 tickets left. (We’d let all of you in, but the Autodesk Gallery can only accommodate so many people.) If you’ve missed details about the evening, they’re here. Tickets can bepurchased here. Huge thanks to the many friends who are helping us put the evening together, including the venture firms Bolt and Ludlow Ventures.


Top News in the A.M.

Yesterday, Amazon bypassed Walmart in market value.

Nest’s thermostat was just booted from the Apple store.


Dear Unicorn, Exit Please

In the last couple of years, it’s become the conventional wisdom that the hottest, fastest-growing tech companies benefit from steering clear of public market investors as long as possible.

The trend toward staying private is a pretty lousy development for employees looking to move on with their lives, though. They have to exercise their options within 90 days of leaving or else lose them. And with valuations of billion-dollar companies up a stunning 59.7 percent over last year, according to Crunchbase, the amount of capital needed to buy one’s options has escalated too fast for anyone who isn’t already exceedingly wealthy to afford them.

Put another way, amid a sea of headlines about billion-dollar valuations are many thousands of employees who stand to lose countless millions of dollars unless companies start to go public, or else sell to an acquirer.

The issue is growing more extreme with every new “unicorn.”

More here.


New Fundings

Fitternity, a two-year-old, Mumbai, India-based discovery platform for workout classes and other fitness services, has raised $1 million in seed funding led by Exfinity Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

MyEye, a months-old, Leicester, U.K.-based video livestreaming startup whose clips expire after 72 hours, has raised roughly $2 million from investors, including soccer star David Beckham. TechCrunch has more here.

JetSmarter, a 2.5-year-old, Boca Raton, Fla.-based company whose users pay for a yearly subscription to book an unlimited number of flights on private jets, has raised $20 million in Series B funding from investors, including members of the Saudi Royal Family, executives from Goldman Sachs and Twitter, and artist-entrepreneur Jay Z. Business Insider has more here.

Palantir Technologies, the 11-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based startup that focuses on data mining, has raised $450 million in a new fundraising round, shows a new SEC filing first spied by the WSJ. The company, says its report, is now valued at $20 billion. Palantir has raised roughly $1 billion from investors to date, including In-Q-Tel, Founders Fund and Tiger Global ManagementMore here.

Peloton Technology, a four-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based developer of vehicle safety systems for trucking fleets, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Nokia Growth Partners. The company previously raised $17 million in Series A funding from Magna International, Castrol innoVentures,Volvo Group Venture Capital, UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund, Birchmere Ventures, Sand Hill Angels, and Band of Angels. VentureBeat has more here.

Popular Pays, a two-year-old, Chicago-based Y Combinator-backed startup connecting Instagram users with marketers, has raised $2 million in funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, Soma Capital, Social Starts, Mike Shinoda of the band Linkin Park and Romar Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

UXPin, a five-year-old, Gdynia, Poland and Mountain View, Ca.-based startup that makes a wireframing and prototyping tool, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by True Ventures. The company had previously raised two rounds of funding: a $700,000 round of funding that included Andreessen HorowitzIDG Ventures, and a long line of individuals, and a $1.6 million round, led last year by Freestyle Capital. More here.

Voxel8, a year-old, Somerville, Ma.-based maker of a multi-material 3D electronics printer, has raised $12 million in funding co-led by ARCH Venture Partners and Braemar Energy Ventures, with participation from In-Q-Tel and Autodesk, through its Spark Investment Fund. TechCrunch has more here.

ZVerse, a two-year-old, Columbia, Md.-based 3D printing technology company, has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding from Mosley Ventures, Capital A Partners and strategic investors. More here.


New Funds

DCM Ventures, the 19-year-old venture firm, with offices in Menlo Park, Ca., Beijing and Tokyo, has closed its second Android-focused investment fund with $100 million. Much more here.

Talent manager and investor Troy Carter has launched SMASHD LABS, a new, L.A.-based startup accelerator that will invest $50,000 in five to seven startups in exchange for a 3 percent stake in the companies. TechCrunch has more here.



Centro, a venture-backed, 14-year-old, Chicago-based ad tech company, has acquired a social ad startup called GraphScience that advertisers use to create and optimize personalized Facebook ads. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. GraphScience had raised $3.2 million in funding from investors, including Grace Beauty Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

IBM has acquired Compose, a four-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based database-as-a-service startup originally known as MongoHQ. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. According to Crunchbase, Compose had raised $6.4 million from investors, including Trinity Ventures, Lerer Hippeau VenturesData Collective, and Webb Investment Network. TechCrunch has more here.

Pearson has sold the Financial Times Group to Japan’s Nikkei for £844 million ($1.3 billion) in cash. The group includes the newspaper, the website and roughly a dozen other properties. The BBC News has more here.



Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky recently revealed seven rejection letters he received seven years ago. Now, seed-stage investor Paige Craig — who says that he was willing to write Airbnb its first check in 2008 — says Airbnb rejected him.

Zenefits, the HR software startup, has hired Rita Garg to run its business development operations. Garg joins the company from Twitter. TechCrunch has more here.

The insane life of former fugitive and eccentric cybersecurity legend John McAfee.

Philanthropy life lessons from KKR cofounder George Roberts.

Laurence Tosi, who has served as the CFO of Blackstone Group since 2008, is reportedly close to becoming CFO at Airbnb, which hasn’t had someone in the position since Andrew Swain left the company last year. The move, notes Bloomberg, could be a precursor to an IPO. (Swain, if you’re curious, is now CFO of the venture-backed San Francisco-based company LendingHome.)



VMWare is looking for a corporate development manager. The job is in Palo Alto, Ca.



Current global tech M&A trends, brought to you by Woodside Capital.

New YouTube stats, via a keynote speech by YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.


Essential Reads

Drug testing is coming to e-gaming.

China wants Silicon Valleys everywhere.



fifth(!) of all residents in Ottawa use Ashley Madison.

Cool at 13, adrift at 23.

How to speak cat.


Retail Therapy

The “Swiss army knife of jackets.”

Modest” bathing suits. Spring break will never be the same.

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