StrictlyVC: August 17, 2015

Hi, happy Monday, everyone, hope you had a terrific weekend.

We are back! No column today, though. (We arrived back in town a little late yesterday and we’re still knee deep in tangled chargers and dirty clothes.)


Top News in the A.M.

The NSA‘s ability to capture Internet traffic in the U.S. is reportedly rooted in an “extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: AT&T.” ProPublica has the story here. (You may have already seen the Snowden documentary “Citizenfour.” If not, we recommend catching that at some point, too.)

The owner of home shopping network QVC is acquiring five-year-old Internet retailer Zulily for $2.4 billion in cash and stock, the companies said this morning. It’s paying $18.75 per share, a 49 percent premium to Zulily’s closing price of $12.8 on Friday. The WSJ has more here.


New Fundings

Ascentage Pharma, a six-year-old, Hong Kong-based biopharmaceutical company at work on a drug meant to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia and glioblastoma multiforme, has raised $15.5 million in Series A funding co-led byOriza Seed Capital and YuanMing Capital, with participation from EFung Capital, BioVenture Capital, Grains Valley Venture Capital, and undisclosed investors.

EnTouch Controls, a six-year-old, Richardson, Tex.-based company that develops energy management systems for small commercial facilities, has raised $6 million in Series C funding from undisclosed investors. Earlier backers in the company include SJF Ventures, NRG Energy, and Trailblazer CapitalMore here., a six-month-old, Los Gatos, Ca.-based automated hiring marketplace that says it uses machine learning, psychometric assessments, and data analytics to improve hiring decisions, is looking to raise its first round of capital, shows an SEC form that doesn’t list a target. More here.

ImmunoGum, a four-year-old, Orange, Ca.-based company that packages together vitamins that support the immune system in gum form, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding from Tech Coast Angels. More here.

Loyalty Bay, a 1.5-year-old, London-based maker of lead generation software, has raised a $1 million round led by Talis Capital, with Howzat PartnersNEON Adventures, Chris Mairs and Richard Verney participating. TechCrunch has more here.

MapD, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based company that builds fast GPU-databases to allow users to interact with and visualize big data in real time, has raised $7.8 million from investors, shows an SEC filing. The company had previously raised $2 million in seed funding from Google Ventures, Nvidia, and Vanedge Capital.

Pacific Ag, a 17-year-old, Hermiston, Ore.-based crop residue supply company, has raised $7 million in funding from Advantage Capital Agribusiness Partners. More here.

Shijiebang, a three-year-old, Beijing, China-based online travel firm that creates customized travel packages for wealthy Chinese tourists traveling overseas, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series B funding, says the company. According to Crunchbase, Shijiebang has previously raised $12 million, including from China Rock Capital, Fosun Kinzon Capital, and Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang. More here.

Yogrt, a year-old, Indonesia-based dating application, has raised $3 million in funding from Centurion Private Equity and Linear Ventures. The company was co-founded by Jason Lim, former managing director of Acer Indonesia, and several serial entrepreneurs. More here.

YourStory Media, a seven-year-old, Bangalore, India-based company that showcases Indian startups, has raised between $3 million and $5 million in venture funding led by Kalaari Capital, with participation of Ratan TataQualcomm Ventures and others. It’s the first external round for the company. VCCircle has more here.


New Funds

Decheng Capital, a four-year-old, Shanghai, China-based healthcare investment firm that provides capital to early and growth stage life science companies in China and the U.S., is looking to raise up to $250 million for its second fund, shows an SEC filing. The company had targeted $125 million for its debut fund in 2012. (We’re not sure if it hit, or exceeded, that target.) More on the firm here.



Grid Dynamics, a nine-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based company that sells scalable ecommerce technology software to grocery companies, has acquired Qubell, a two-year-old company that had developed an autonomic application management platform for cloud applications. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Grid Dynamic is using part of a new, undisclosed amount of Series B funding led by previous backer Benhamou Global Ventures to help fund it. More here., a SoftBank-backed real estate platform in India, has spent $2 million to acquire HomeBuy360, a four-year-old, Bangalore-based startup that provides an online sales and customer relations management platform that connects developers, agents and buyers. TechCrunch has more here.



Amazon founder Jeff Bezos responds to the New York Times’s gripping weekend read about Amazon’s “bruising workplace,” saying that “The NYT article prominently features anecdotes describing shockingly callous management practices, including people being treated without empathy while enduring family tragedies and serious health problems. The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day.”More here.

Tyson Clark has joined Google Ventures as a partner, reports Fortune. Clark most recently worked in corporate development at Andreessen Horowitz, and, earlier in his career, spent six years in the U.S. Navy as a nuclear propulsion submarine officer. More here.

For what it’s worth, the fund owned by billionaire George Soros has sold most of its shares in retail giant Alibaba, slicing its holdings to 60,000 shares (worth $4.9 million) down from $370 million worth of shares at March’s end. The BBC has more here. (Meanwhile, the WSJ has more here on the fresh threat Alibaba faces from new rivals.)


Twitch, the video platform and gamer community acquired by Amazon last year, is looking to hire a VP of business development.


Essential Reads

An Airbnb stay went very wrong recently, and confused about what to do, the company opted not to get involved.

Buzzfeed takes a deep dive into Pinterest’s ambitious e-commerce platform.

VCs have invested tens of millions of dollars in companies that service society’s upper crust, while largely passing on profitable companies aiming to help the downtrodden.



Zombie fashion: Why dead brands are coming back.

How old people became the future of the auto industry.

The problem with ever-changing work schedules and child-rearing.

President Obama is plotting life after the presidency (and soliciting advice toward that end from Reid Hoffman, John Doerr, and Vinod Khosla, among others).


Retail Therapy

Tired of answering questions about your Apple Watch? Try this.

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