StrictlyVC: September 9, 2015

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Get set for Applepalooza; it kicks off at 10 o’clock PST.


Top News in the A.M.

The outlet 9to5Mac has a rundown of most of what it’s expecting from today’s big event. You can take a look here.

Meanwhile, in Seattle, Amazon has finally exhausted its supply of Fire Phones. GeekWire has more here.


CrunchBase is Spinning Off, Backed by Emergence Capital

Eight-year-old, San Francisco-based CrunchBase looks to become a standalone company in the very near future. According to several sources, the unit, which calls itself the “definitive database of the startup ecosystem,” is finalizing a term sheet with the venture firm Emergence Capital Partners for an investment of between $5 million and $7 million.

AOL, we’re told, remains a “significant” investor.

It’s both the closing of a chapter for CrunchBase, and the beginning of a new one.

More here.


New Fundings

Apperian, a six-year-old, Boston-based mobile applications management company, has raised $12 million in fresh funding led by the Malaysia-based firmFirst Floor Capital. Bessemer Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, North Bridge Venture Partners, Intel Capital and CommonAngels Ventures also joined the round, which brings Apperian’s total funding to more than $39 million. TechCrunch has more here.

AveXis, a five-year-old, Dallas, Tex.-based company that’s developing gene-therapy treatments for rare neurological disorders, has raised $65 million in Series D funding led by T. Rowe Price Associates, with participation from several other new and returning investors. More here.

The Black Tux, a two-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based suit and tuxedo rental startup, has raised $25 million in new funding led by Stripes Group, with participation from earlier backers First Round Capital and Menlo Ventures. The company has now raised $40 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Chef, a seven-year-old, Seattle-based automation platform that transforms infrastructure into code, has raised $40 million in Series E funding led by DFJ Growth, with participation from earlier backers, including Battery VenturesCiti Ventures, DFJ, Ignition Partners, and Scale Venture PartnersHewlett Packard Ventures also joined the round as a strategic investor. TechCrunch has more here.

Cognition Therapeutics, an eight-year-old, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based pharmaceutical company focused disease-modifying therapies for Alzheimer’s and related neurodegenerative diseases, has raised $12 million in Series B funding led by the investment syndicate Golden Seeds, with participation from Bios Memory SPV1, Cowtown Angels, Scale Investors, Dolby Family Ventures, Maine Angels, among others. Earlier backers, including Tech Coast Angels, also participated in the financing. More here.

Dronomy, a 1.5-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based drone tech startup, has raised $1.5 million in funding led by Battery Ventures, with participation from Lool Ventures, Oryzn Capital and numerous angel investors, including former Skype CEO Josh Silverman. has more here.

Eden, a six-month-old, San Francisco-base on-demand tech help service launched out of Y Combinator, has added new $2 million in funding to its now $3.3 million seed round. Investors include SV Angel, Redpoint VenturesBessemer Venture Partners, Slow Ventures, Comcast Ventures, Index Ventures, and Canvas Venture Fund. TechCrunch has more here.

FeeX, a three-year-old, New York-based free service that identifies and tries to help consumers eliminate hidden fees in retirement and savings accounts, has raised $2.75 million in new funding led by Collaborative Fund. The money brings the total capital raised by the company to $12.1 million. TechCrunch hasmore here.

Freightos, a four-year-old, Hong Kong-based startup that automates the routing and pricing of international freight shipments, has raised $14 million in Series B funding from MSR Capital, Sadara Ventures, and earlier backers Aleph, Annox Capital, ICV and OurCrowd. The company has now raised $23.3 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Lalamove, a two-year-old, Hong Kong-based on-demand logistics service that lets users hail delivery vans with an app, has raised $10 million in fresh funding led by MindWorks Ventures, with participation from AppWorks, Crystal Stream, and individual investors. The company has now raised $20 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Lesara, a two-year-old, Berlin-based online fashion and lifestyle retailer that wants to make it easier for consumers in Europe to buy directly from factories in Asia, has raised €15 million ($16.7 million) co-led by Northzone and Vorwerk Ventures, with participation from earlier backer Mangrove Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Routehappy, a 4.5-year-old, New York-based platform that helps airlines organize and deliver content about their products wherever flights are displayed, has raised $3 million in new funding, shows an SEC filing. The company had previously raised $5.3 million from investors, including Contour Venture Partners, iNovia Capital, and Primary Venture Partners. More here., a 1.5-year-old, Zug, Switzerland-based universal and anonymous cryptocurrency converter, has raised $1.6 million from the Digital Currency Group and bitcoin angel investor Roger Ver, as well as other angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds

According to Fortune, Amplify Partners, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based venture fund that invests in seed and Series A-stage enterprise deals, has closed its second fund with $125 million in capital – more than double the roughly $50 million it had raised for its debut fund. Amplify was founded by Sunil Dhaliwal, a former partner with Battery Ventures. StrictlyVC talked with him about his fund strategy — which isn’t changing, says Fortune — last year.

A new venture fund called Crystal Towers that’s backed by several Y Combinator founders and aims to invest in the most promising YC companies out of every batch, has raised a fresh $4.4 million, shows an SEC filing. As TechCrunch reported in July, the fund is not associated in any formal capacity with Y Combinator. It also appears to be raising capital in dribs and drabs; as of TechCrunch’s report, the fund had already raised $102.5 million over numerous filings.



NEXTracker, a two-year-old, Fremont, Ca.-based solar startup, is being acquired by Flextronics for more than $245 million in cash. Flextronics may also pay $85 million more based on future performance targets. NEXTracker had raised more than $40 million from investors, including SJF VenturesTennenbaum Capital Partners, Sigma Partners and DBL Investors. Greentech Media has more here.



Keith Bigelow, a Salesforce executive who was hired from SAP to oversee the launch of an ambitious new line of analytics software, is stepping down from the role to take on another unidentified project within the company, reports The Information. (Subscription required.)

Fresh off of a DUI and gun possession arrest last month, software pioneer John McAfee has decided that the presidency of the United States is his next logical step.

Gary Swart has been named a general partner of Polaris Partners.  Swart, the former CEO of oDesk, joined the firm as a venture partner one year ago, helping it to expand its presence on the West Coast.

Vanity Fair’s New Establishment list for 2015. (Yeah, we know how you feel, but you kind of have to read it.)



AAA is looking to add a strategy analyst to its new business ventures unit. The job is in Emeryville, Ca.


Essential Reads

Inside Facebook’s $2 billion bet on Oculus Rift.

After five years, Instagram is ready to start cashing in.

Stem CentRx, a low-flying, Peter Thiel-backed “unicorn,” thinks stem cells could be the underlying cause of many cancers.

Periscope, Twitter’s live-streaming product, is developing an app for the new Apple TV that will enable viewers to watch livestreams on their TV.



At Harvard, it’s show time.

Truly insane skateboarding.

press release, brought to you by Rolls-Royce (and penned, evidently, by Danielle Steel).


Retail Therapy

Two San Francisco homes with bona fide pools have hit the market — timed perfectly for weather that’s turned hot as Hades.

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