StrictlyVC: August 25, 2015

Hi, happy Tuesday, everyone!

A quick mention: As some of you have discovered, our September 16 event is now sold out. For what it’s worth, we opened up a waitlist yesterday — it’s here — and we’ll do our best to accommodate a few more of you between now and then. Thanks to those of you who purchased tickets; we’re excited to see you. We’re also very thankful to our wonderful speakers and to our friends and partners, including at Bolt and Ludlow Ventures, for helping make possible what’s going to be a very fun night!


Top News in the A.M.

This Ashley Madison business is far from over. Here’s the latest.


A Slick New 401(k) Platform, From TaskRabbit Cofounder Kevin Busque

In recent years, Kevin Busque began to notice something at TaskRabbit, the outsourced jobs marketplace that he co-founded seven years ago with his wife, and TaskRabbit’s CEO, Leah Busque.

The company employs a lot of younger employees, and according to Busque (who was long the company’s VP of Technology but also tackled HR for some time), they weren’t taking advantage of TaskRabbit’s 401(k) program.

In fact, the participation rate was somewhere in the range of 30 to 40 percent — on par with other U.S. businesses, where 401(k) participation is around just 36 percent, Busque says.

According to Government Accountability Office testimony from 2013, numerous reasons explain such low figures. Sometimes, the employer plans of small businesses are too expensive. Sometimes, employees worry they aren’t making enough money to contribute to retirement savings. Often, too, retirement plans are so confusing that employees – younger staffers especially — decide they’re not worth the hassle.

Enter Guideline Technologies, Busque’s four-month-old, San Francisco-based company, which has just raised $2 million in seed funding from New Enterprise Associates, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, SV Angel, Red Swan Ventures, BoxGroup, Xfund and 500 Startups.

Its big idea: To work with small and mid-size employers in making 401(k) plans affordable for employees — as well as dead simple to set up.

More here.


New Fundings

BlueData, a three-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based company that helps customers generate virtualized big data clusters, has raised $20 million in Series C funding led by Intel Capital, with participation from Amplify PartnersAtlantic Bridge, Ignition Partners, and an unnamed strategic investor. TechCrunch has more here.

carbonTRACK, a five-year-old, Victoria, Australia-based energy-tech startup that helps users to track their energy use in their homes, has raised $1.4 million (U.S.) in seed funding from Impact Investment Fund and Wolf Capital. Startup Daily has more here.

Coursera, the three-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based online education service, has raised $49.5 million in Series C funding led by New Enterprise Associates. Other investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersInternational Finance Corporation, and Times Internet Limited. Coursera expects a second closing of the round this fall. TechCrunch has more here.

EHang, a year-old, San Carlos, Ca.-based drone startup, has raised $42 million in Series B funding led by GP Capital, with participation from earlier backers GGV Capital, ZhenFund, PreAngel, Lebox Capital and OFC. TechCrunch hasmore here.

Fanatics, a 20-year-old, Jacksonville, Fla.-based e-commerce company focused on sports merchandise, has sold a minority ownership stake to private equity firm Silver Lake for $300 million, Fortune is reporting this morning. The company, acquired in 2011 by eBay spinoff Kynetic, had earlier raised $320 million in minority equity funding from Andreessen Horowitz and Insight Venture Partners and another $130 million from Alibaba Group.

FluGen, an eight-year-old, Madison, Wi.-based biotechnology company at work on a  “universal” influenza vaccine, has raised $12 million in Series A funding from Venture Investors, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, and other new and existing investors led by Knox LLC. More here.

Friendsy, a 2.5-year-old, Princeton, N.J.-based student-only social network, has raised $500,000 in seed funding from Lerer Hippeau Ventures and Slow Ventures, firms that had previously provided the startup with $200,000 in funding. Princeton University also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.

Greenhouse Software, a three-year-old, New York-based recruiting optimization platform, has raised $35 million in Series C funding led by Thrive Capital, with participation from Benchmark, The Social+Capital Partnership, and Groupe Arnault.

Scality, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based object-based storage startup, has raised $45 million in Series D funding led by Menlo Ventures, with participation from new strategic partner Broadband Tower, Scality employees, and earlier backers IDInvest, Digital Ambition Fund, Iris Capital, Omnes Capital and Galileo Partners. The company has raised $80 million to date. Silicon Valley Business Journal has more here.

Simility, a year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based maker of adaptive fraud prevention software, has raised $3.45 million in seed funding led by Accel Partners. More here.

Spare5, a 10-month-old, Seattle, Wa.-based company that helps businesses outsource menial tasks like tagging and describing images (the company calls itself a “snack-sized task platform”), has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Foundry Group, Madrona Venture Group and New Enterprise Associates. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds

Owl Ventures — founded by Tory Patterson and Jed Smith, who previously ran the consumer goods and tech fund Catamount Ventures — has closed a $100 million fund. Venture Capital Dispatch has the story here.

Peakview Capital, the two-year-old investment arm of the management consulting giant Shengjing Group, has been investing about $1 billion a year in private equity and venture capital funds. Next year, though, it plans to invest more than $1.5 billion, and much of it in the U.S. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.



In the U.S., there are 40 fewer deals in the IPO pipeline than this time last year. The WSJ has more here.



Shopa, a nearly two-year-old, London-based social shopping site, is reportedly shutting down and its CEO is out just seven months after it raised $11 million from investors, including Notion Capital and Octopus Investments. Business Insider takes a look at what’s happening here.



Meet Liam Casey, the founder and CEO of PCH International, otherwise known as the tech industry’s “fixer” in China.



Saints Capital, which makes primary and secondary investments in venture-backed startups, is looking for an analyst. The job is in San Francisco.


Essential Reads

Aerosense, Sony’s joint-venture drone company, yesterday unveiled a prototype of the flying machines it will use to serve business customers.

Uber is testing bus-style “smart routes” with designated pick-up and drop-off areas.



Wall Street: Still very white and very male.

Posture for a healthy back.

Why teenagers are the worst.


Retail Therapy

Do mosquitoes love you? Try this.

OCD for breakfast.

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