StrictlyVC: July 28, 2015

Hi, good morning, everyone! Talented investor-writer Semil Shah is in charge of our columns for a few weeks, as Connie catches up on her reading. If you’re interested in reaching out to Semil, you can find him on Twitter at @semil.


Top News in the A.M.

Remember Product Hunt? (We featured it yesterday.) Today, Amazon is taking the startup Launchpad.


Quick Chat with Scalus Founder and CEO Kristen Koh Goldstein

Scalus, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of workflow and collaboration software, was born out of necessity, says founder and CEO, Kristen Koh Goldstein, a former investment banking analyst turned entrepreneur. We recently caught up with her to learn more.

With Scalus and a company you founded previously, BackOps, you seem to have developed a passion and expertise around building software and networks for remote workers — how did that all come to be?

It’s fueled from a place of personal experience. After 9/11, I left Wall Street to learn operational finance and accounting at startups. Then life happened. I became a mom.  And I learned firsthand the challenges of being a mom and a professional. So I started BackOps, a back office service employing skilled moms who work from home between school dropoff and pickup.  The business grew quickly, doubling revenue every year for four years, so we ended up needing to develop software to clear the hurdles to scaling our business and Scalus was born.

Our corporate mission is to prove that the future of work includes workplace flexibility for all.  Our social mission is to get a million parents back to work by empowering them to be productive at work and engaged at home.

Speaking of remote workers, some of them are likely to be on contract. Have you been following the contractor versus full-employee debate as it relates to the on-demand sector? Any reactions?  

The labor laws haven’t caught up with the changing face of the workforce. The Millennial generation approaches employment differently than its predecessors. Companies look more like Hollywood productions or real estate development projects. The line between “internal” and “external” becomes much more blurred in this environment, where contractors can often have the same longevity and close working relationships as internal employees, especially across departments.

Philosophically, I believe it’s important to make a commitment to people who commit to you.  At BackOps, where I’m the chairwoman, my perspective has always been that unless you have an active income source elsewhere (you’re working for others), you are an employee of the company, even if just part-time on a temporary basis.<

What’s your point of view on the increased attention paid to having more women in VC and investing roles in the Valley? Are there more women quietly doing this than we know about, or is it still pretty dismal? If so, what can change it quickly?

In angel investing, there have always been a lot of women funding and supporting early-stage companies. Shawn Byers, a prolific investor in female-led companies, is probably the only member of her family [which includes her husband, Brook Byers of Kleiner Perkins and their sons Blake Byers of Google Ventures and Chad Byers of Susa Ventures] who you haven’t heard about.  I think it’s quite possible that Shawn may end up backing just as many startups as Brook, Blake, and Chad. Full disclosure: Blake Byers is our biggest champion at Google Ventures, so we’re a big fan of the whole Byers clan.

I am thrilled that trailblazers, including Helena Morrissey and Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, are pushing forward the discussion about getting more women in the boardroom, which is a positive change toward getting more women in VC. I am also so grateful to the countless women quietly working behind the scenes, including Aileen Lee. Hopefully, more companies, especially startups where like-think reigns, will start diversifying their boards, which will increase the demand for female VCs, who will in turn invest in a broader range of founders who will seek diverse boards.

You’re an active angel and seed investor but keep a relatively low profile. Is that on purpose or all part of the plan?

It’s on purpose. I have been listening, learning, and waiting for the remote worker movement to come center stage. When the time is right to talk about what it means to empower everyone across an organization to determine the way that they work, you’ll hear a lot more from me.


New Fundings

Castle Biosciences, a seven-year-old, Friendswood, Tex.-based molecular diagnostics firm, has raised $11.7 million in the first tranche of a Series F round that’s targeting $20 million. Industry Ventures led the financing, with participation from earlier backers HealthQuest Capital and Mountain Group Partners.

More here.China Rapid Finance, a 14-year-old, Shanghai, China-based online consumer lending marketplace serving online users and China’s emerging middle class, has raised $35 million in Series C funding led by Broadline Capital, a global private equity firm, with the participation of an unnamed family office and other investors. The company has now raised at least $56 million, shows Crunchbase. More on the company here.

Deliveroo, a three-year-old, London-based on-demand startup that offers food delivery from high-end restaurants that don’t traditionally offer a take-out service, has raised $70 million in Series C funding led by Greenoaks Capital and Index Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Accel Partnersand Hoxton Ventures. The company has now raised roughly $100 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Kareo, an 11-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based startup that provides small medical practices with tools they need to run their businesses, has raised $55 million in new funding led by the late-stage health tech fund Montreux Equity Partners, with participation from Silver Lake Waterman and all previous investors, including Greenspring Associates, OpenView Venture Partners, and Stripes Group. TechCrunch has more here.

Lecorpio, a nine-year-old, Freemont, Ca.-based company that sells software for managing intellectual property portfolios, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by  M2OMore here.

MacroFab, a nearly two-year-old, Houston, Tex.-based platform that helps hardware startups prototype and manufacture PCB boards, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Techstars Ventures. The company has now raised $2.7 million altogether, shows Crunchbase. More here.

Mobi, a seven-year-old Indianapolis, In.-based company whose cloud-based software centralizes the management of mobile devices by integrating with wireless carriers, corporate IT systems and more, has raised $35 million in funding from the growth equity firm Bregal Sagemount.

Oncobiologics, a four-year-old, Cranbury, N.J.-based biopharmaceutical company, has raised $31 million in new funding led by Perceptive Advisors, with participation from earlier backers, including Cormorant Global Healthcare Master Fund, Longwood Capital Partners, and venBio Select Fund. Other investors included Proximare Lifesciences Fund, OSSB Pharma Fund and MIH Fund.

Optoro, an 11-year-old, Lanham, Md.-based re-seller of unwanted retail goods that counts Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Revolution among its investors, has raised $40 million in debt financing from TriplePoint Venture Growth and Square 1 Bank. The Washington Post has more here.

Secret Escapes, a four-year-old, London-based members-only British travel deals site, has raised $60 million in a new funding led by Google Ventures, with participation from Index Ventures and Octopus Investments. The company has now raised $72.9 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here., a seven-year-old, New York-based  iPad-based payments-processing system allows retailers to accept a variety of payment methods, as well as keep track of inventory, employee hours, and customers’ contact information, has raised $60 million in new funding led by Activant. The company has now raised $97.2 million altogether. Venture Capital Dispatch hasmore here.

UpCounsel, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based on-demand network of pre-screened attorneys, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Menlo Ventures, with participation from previous investors Homebrew and Metamorphic Ventures. The company has now raised $13.9 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Stripe, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose APIs and tools enable businesses to accept and manage online payments, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding led by Visa, a round that reportedly values the company at $5 billion. The company had previously raised $300 million in funding from Sequoia Capital, American Express, and General Catalyst Partners among others. Both Sequoia and American Express participated in the newest round, too. Fortune has more here.

Yozio, a three-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based which helps developers acquire more mobile users via an advanced analytics, growth-marketing platform, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Foundation Capital, with participation from firms including Illuminate Ventures, Webb Investment Network, and AME Cloud Ventures. The company has now raised $8.6 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.



Allergan, a Dublin, Ireland-based global pharmaceutical company, is acquiring Naurex, a seven-year-old Evanston, Il.-based biopharmaceutical company focused on treating central nervous system disorders, for $560 million. Naurex had at least $162 million from investors, shows Crunchbase. Its backers include Adams Street PartnersDruid BioVenturesGenesys Capital and Latterell Venture Partners. The Chicago Tribune has more here.



Cisco’s new CEO, Chuck Robbins, announced some new appointments yesterday, his first day on the job. Zorawar Biri Singh is now Cisco’s CTO, and Kevin Bandy is the company’s Chief Digital Officer. Previously, Singh was a venture partner at Khosla Ventures. His earlier career was split between founding companies and working at HP, IBM, and Nortel Networks. Bandy was most recently senior vice president of enterprise transformation at Salesforce. Network World has more here.

Following a string of exits by women at Reddit, its head of community, Jessica Moreno, has just left the company, too.



Revo Capital, a two-year-old, Istanbul, Turkey-based venture firm focused on both enterprise and consumer-facing startups, is looking for an associate to help it establish a presence in Silicon Valley. The job is in San Francisco.



Europe-based venture capital firms raised more than €2 billion ($2.2 billion) in the second quarter of this year, a 30 percent jump compared with the same period last year, reports Venture Capital Dispatch. Recent amounts are still below those of the late ‘90s dot-com boom, it notes. In the second quarter of 2000, European VC firmed raised $3.9 billion (€3.5 billion).

Twenty-six companies (including 14 in the U.S.) plan to spend $1 billion or more each on Internet of things initiatives this year, according to research out from Tata Consultancy Services. Fortune has more here.


Essential Reads

How Goldman Sachs became a tech-investing powerhouse.

Wired on Hollywood’s plan to smear Google.



Bloomberg thinks Donald Trump is worth roughly $7 billion less than he says he is.


Retail Therapy

The four-minute shower curtain. We may need to get one of these.

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