StrictlyVC: September 16, 2015

Hi and happy Wednesday, everyone. Can’t wait to see many of you at our event tonight! Just a reminder that Autodesk will start checking in people at 5; we’ll kick off the content at 5:45.


Top News in the A.M.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said yesterday that within 10 years, all of the city’s public schools will be required to offer computer science to all students.


Bill Gurley Openly Questions Certain High-Flying Brands

Yesterday, at an interview sponsored by the Benchmark-portfolio company Sailthru, legendary VC Bill Gurley appeared on stage with Bloomberg reporter Emily Chang to discuss the future of e-commerce.

Gurley spent much of the talk addressing the importance of personalization and the opportunity that companies miss when they focus on acquiring new customers rather than optimizing their services for current users. (Sailthru sells personalized marketing technology to its customers.)

But Gurley also talked at length about a few well-known, well-funded startups, and he didn’t hold any punches when it came to sharing those about which he’s pessimistic.

More here.


New Fundings

Agora, a 1.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based startup that enables enterprises to add real-time voice and video communications for applications, has raised $20 million in Series B funding from Morningside Ventures, SIG, GGV CapitalShunWei and IDG Ventures. More here.

Alector, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based company that’s developing immuno-modulatory therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, has raised $32 million in Series C funding led byMRL Ventures, with participation from OrbiMed, Polaris Partners, Google Ventures, Topspin Partners and Mission Bay Capital. More here.

Hyperloop Technologies, the 1.5-year-old, L.A.-based tubular transportation startup that’s rethinking how high-speed transportation services work, tells TechCrunch that it’s currently raising $80 million in Series B funding. The company had earlier raised $11.1 million from investors, including Formation 8, Crispian Venture Capital, SherpaCapital, and ZhenFund. The company has also appointed a new CEO — Rob Lloyd, who had been president at Cisco — and added former Snapchat COO Emily White as a board observer. More here., a four-year-old, San Francisco-based company that provides cloud-based message queueing and task processing to make users’ apps more scalable and durable, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Baseline Ventures, with participation from Bain Capital Ventures, Divergent Ventures, Ignition Partners, and Cloud Capital Partners. The company previously raised 5.5 million in seed funding. TechCrunch has more here.

LearnUp, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based job training and placement platform enabling employers to pre-train and hire individuals for entry-level jobs, has raised $8 million in Series A funding co-led by New Enterprise Associates and Shasta Ventures. Other participants include Greylock Partners, Floodgate, and High Line Venture Partners.

Lightspeed POS, a 10-year-old Montreal-based company whose apps and other services held retailers manage and sell inventory across both online and offline shopfronts, has raised $61 million in Series C funding co-led by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and Investissement Québec, with participation from earlier investors Accel Partners and iNovia. The company has now raised $126 million altogether. More here.

Neighborly, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based marketplace that makes it easy for users to buy municipal bonds, has raised $5.5 million in Series A funding from Formation 8 and Sound Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Oscar, the two-year-old, New York-based tech-driven health insurance company, has raised $32.5 million from Google Capital at a $1.75 billion valuation, up from a valuation of $1.5 billion when the company last took funding in April. Oscar has now raised roughly $350 million altogether. The WSJ has more here., a seven-month-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based data warehousing platform that recently launched its private beta, has raised a $1.3 million seed round from Blumberg Capital, 500 Startups, and FundersGuild. TechCrunch has more here.

TeamSnap, a six-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based tool for coordinating sports and other activities, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Northgate Capital, with participation from Colorado Impact Fund, Crawley Ventures and earlier investor Foundry Group.



Accenture has acquired Cloud Sherpas, an eight-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based cloud consultant, for undisclosed terms. Cloud Sherpas had raised more than $60 million in funding, including from Columbia Capital, Syncarpha CapitalDelta-v Capital, Greenspring Associates, Queensland Investment Corp.,Vento Security Holdings and Hallett Capital.

Leap Transit, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that served fresh-pressed juice to commuters on its luxury buses, has filed for bankruptcy. The company was backed by at least $2.5 million from Andreessen HorowitzIndex Ventures, Slow Ventures and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

Snapchat has acquired Looksery, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup whose face tracking and modifying technologies can be applied to selfies to alter the way the user appears. A Ukranian news outlet pegged the price for the company at $150 million, a total that Snapchat would not confirm yesterday.More here.

Unruly, a nine-year-old, London-based digital ad tech company whose services help track and step up engagement, is being acquired by News Corp. in a deal worth up to $176 million, including the “achievement of certain performance objectives.” According to CrunchBase, Unruly had raised at least $25 million in venture funding, including from Endeit Capital and Amadeus Capital Partners. More here.



Enterpreneur Anjula Acharia-Bath as joined Trinity Ventures as a non-investing partner. She plans to focus on diversity, female founders, and Hollywood. TechCrunch has more here.

Former Evernote CEO Phil Libin has joined General Catalyst Partners as its fourth general partner in Silicon Valley. We talked with him about the move here.

Maureen Sullivan, president of and the company’s lifestyle brands, is departing AOL to join Rent the Runway, where she will be president of the startup’s a la carte fashion rental business. TechCrunch has more here.



North Atlantic Capital is looking to hire an associate. The job is in Portland, Me.


Essential Reads

The number of Tesla employees leaving the electric carmaker for Apple’s vehicle group is beginning to affect Tesla’s future product roadmap, reports AppleInsider.

“Dislike” button?  Facebook says no, but it may add an alternative to the “like” button.

How to build a great social media reputation (even for a fake business) quickly and cheaply.

Periscope is the “it” app for brands during Fashion Week.



When it rains in L.A. . .

The number one trait that HBS looks for in MBA candidates.

In table tennis, an epic 42-shot rally.


Retail Therapy

Amazon — whose founder, Jeff Bezos, now owns the Washington Post — is smartly offering a free, six-month subscription to the paper’s national digital edition to Prime members for free (a savings of roughly $60). Stay on as a subscriber afterward, and pay just $3.99 a month.

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