StrictlyVC: September 14, 2015

Happy Monday morning, lovely and talented readers! Apologies again about Friday’s abbreviated email. As one subscriber and friend wrote us in response, “Sh_t happens all the time.” Wrote another: DON’T EDIT IN THE CMS!” And a handy tip from a third, to use this tool, Lazarus; it saves everything you type into any web form. (Thank you!)


Top News in the A.M.

Apple said this morning that sales for its newly announced iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are on track to beat last year’s sales for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which sold a record number of 10 million units during the first weekend they were on sale.

A new, 3,000-word Barron’s piece on Alibaba is predicting the stock will fall 50 percent — and that’s not even the worst of it.


Reid Hoffman Goes Back to Stanford

You might wonder how, exactly, 13-year-old LinkedIn became a $25 billion company. It wasn’t the first social network. The company admits that, even today, people find it very confusing. Plenty of ambitious competitors have sprung up to take on the company. Yet they’ve all been smoked, eventually, by LinkedIn.

It’s a familiar story in the Bay Area, where many industry-dominating companies – from Uber to Airbnb to Facebook – are based. That’s no accident, says LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman. In fact, this fall, Hoffman is teaching a class at Stanford — his alma mater — on how startups like LinkedIn and the others grow into what he calls “scale-ups.”

Another word he’s introducing into the ever-ballooning vernacular of Silicon Valley: “Blitzscaling.” The idea: that to compete in the global, networked age, companies need to know how to out maneuver more competitors than ever, and they need to do it, crucially, by knowing how to scale lightning fast.

More here.


New Fundings

Abra, a 1.5-year-old, Slovenia-based peer-to-peer remittance service built on top of the Blockchain, has has $12 million in Series A funding from Arbor Ventures, RRE Ventures, and First Round Capital. The company has now raised $14 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Argus Cybey Security, a two-year-old Tel Aviv, Israel-based company that makes anti-car-hacking software, has raised $26 million in Series B funding from Magna International, Allianz SE and SBI Group, with participation from return backers Magma Venture Partners, Vertex Venture Capital and RAD Group cofounder Zohar Zisapel. Reuters has more here.

Body Labs, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based 3-D body visualization technology, has raised $4.1 million in new funding, shows an SEC filing flagged by VentureWire. The company had previously raised $2.2 million from FirstMark Capital and New York Angels. More here.

CureVac, a 15-year-old, Tübingen, Germa-based company that’s developing new, messenger-RNA therapies, has raised $225 million, including from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (The money isn’t new but it’s newly public information.) It’s also opening an office in Cambridge, Ma. Xconomy has more here.

Deepomatic, a 15-month-old, Paris-based company whose search engine indexes and identifies objects in an image in order to compare them with a database of objects, has raised $1.4 million from Alven Capital and business angels. TechCrunch has more here..

HouseCall, a two-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based company that’s incorporated as Codified and that helps users connect with contractors in their local market, has raised $6 million led by August Capital, reports VentureWire. More here.

Ipsy, a nearly four-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based based online beauty community and cosmetics sampling service started by YouTube star Michelle Phan, has raised $100 million in Series B funding co-led by TPG Growth and Sherpa Capital. The company had previously raised just $3 million from investors, including 500 Startups and Crosscut Ventures. Variety has more here.

MoEngage, a 15-month-old, Bangalore, India-based company that provides user analytics and automated mobile marketing for some of India’s biggest mobile apps, has raised $4.25 million in Series A funding led by Helion Venture Partners, with participation from Exfinity Ventures and angel investors Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, the co-founders of Snapdeal. TechCrunch has more here.

Moff, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that makes a gesture-controlled wearable tech bracelet, has raised $1.3 million in seed funding from the Japanese gaing company Bandai Namco Entertainment, along with other participants Orso and TomyK. TechCrunch has more here.



Penumbra, an Alameda, Ca.-based medical device company, hopes to raise up to $122.4 million in an offering that is expected to price later this week. It will be the first IPO from the Bay Area in a month, reports the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Cambridge, Ma.-based Dimension Therapeutics also just filed for an IPO, aiming to raise cash to support its pipeline of potential gene therapies for hemophilia and rare diseases. Xconomy has the story here.



Practo, a seven-year-old, Bangalore, India-based medical search portal that helps patients connect with doctors and clinics and recently raised $90 million in Series C funding, has acquired the Bangalore-based healthcare management firm Insta Health in a $12 million deal. According to Crunchbase, Insta Health had raised just $1.3 million in Series A funding from Inventus Capital Partners. More here.



Archit Bhise starts today as an associate in the early stage consumer group of Redpoint Ventures. Bhise joins the firm from Wellframe, a company he cofounded while a student at MIT.

Her husband famously helped reboot Apple with the “Think Different” advertising campaign. Now Laurene Powell Jobs is starting a $50 million project to rethink high school. The New York Times has the story here.

John Krakcik, president of the online car-shopping service TrueCar, confirmed yesterday on Twitter that he is joining Google’s Self-Driving Car project later this month as its CEO, tweeting that “driving cars could save 1000s of lives, give people greater mobility [and] free us from things we find frustrating about driving today.” The WSJ has much more here.

Dealbook features a lengthy profile of investor-entrepreneur Micky Malka of Ribbit Capital, calling him a “rising force in Silicon Valley and one of the few Latin Americans to crack its upper echelon.” (StrictlyVC talked with Malka last summer about his concentrated bets on financial services and why he “doesn’t believe in diversification.”)



Lyft is looking to hire a business analyst in San Francisco.

Tumblr is looking to hire a director of business development. The job is in New York.


Essential Reads

Indiegogo is getting ready for equity crowdfunding.

Coming soon: Etsy Manufacturing, a new service in the U.S. and Canada that matches sellers with small manufacturers.

How Ashley Madison hid its fembot con from users and investigators.

Virtual reality is at its make-or-break moment.



The world’s most luxurious fashion show.

Just as you suspected. We are hard-wired for laziness.


Retail Therapy

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Mercedes AMG GT S

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