StrictlyVC: September 17, 2015

Hi, happy Thursday, everyone. Thank you, thank you to those of you who came to our newest StrictlyVC event last night! We had a great time. It was also highly gratifying to see so many of you who’ve attended our previous events. We’re glad you are enjoying them.:)


Top News in the A.M.

ZenPayroll is rebranding as Gusto. And watch out, Zenefits; it’s now offering health benefits (and workers comp). More here.

Google is working on a new wearable technology effort known as Project Aura. More here.


Chamath Palihapitiya on Insane Burn Rates, IPOs, and Raising a New Real Estate Fund

Last night, at a StrictlyVC event in San Francisco, well-regarded startup investor Chamath Palihapitiya had some harsh words for what’s become the standard startup set-up in San Francisco. Think nice office, well-stocked kitchen, and (inserting our own personal observation here), the increasingly ubiquitous bookcase door, leading to a secret room.

All that window dressing costs money, noted Palihapitiya, sounding very much like he’s had it with supporting such excess —  and suggesting that other investors should be just as indignant.

“It’s fine to fail,” Palihapitiya told attendees. “But if you fail because you didn’t have the courage to move to Oakland, and instead you burned 30 percent of your cash on Kind bars and exposed brick walls in the office, you’re a f_cking moron.”

Much more here.


New Fundings

Aspiration, a two-year-old, Marina Del Ray, Ca.-based “socially-conscious” online investment platform, has raised $15.5 million in Series A funding led by Renren, with participation from GSV Capital, Capricorn Investment GroupIGSB and high-profile individual investors, including David Bonderman, Steve Rattner, and Joe Lonsdale. More about the company here.

Ativa Medical, a seven-year-old, St. Paul, Mn.-based developer of a diagnostic micro lab for physicians, has raised $15 million in Series B funding from Ping An Ventures, Hermed Capital, LabCorp, Dian Diagnostics and GIMDx.

Breather, a three-year-old, Montreal-based on-demand private room service, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, with participation from Real Ventures, RRE Ventures, Slow Ventures and SOS Ventures. The company has now raised $27 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

DWNLD, a year-old, New York-based publishing platform that takes any website and seamlessly turns it into an app, has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Greylock Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Envoy, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based company that provides early elderly care with a concierge service for tasks like delivering groceries, has raised $3 million in funding led by Softech VC, with participation fromLowercase Capital, Vayner/RSE and others. TechCrunch has more here.

Fundera, a two-year-old, New York-based online credit marketplace that helps small business secure loans, has raised $11.5 million in Series B funding led by Susquehanna Growth Equity, with participation from earlier backers QED Investors, Khosla Ventures, and First Round Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

GitLab, a year-old, San Francisco-based open source Git-based collaboration platform for developers, has raised $4 million in Series A funding from Khosla Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

HelloFresh, a three-year-old, New York-based startup that send users recipes and the ingredients needed to prepare them, has raised $84.7 million in growth funding from the Scottish investment firm Baillie Gifford. The company had previously raised $193.5 million. TechCrunch has more here.

HelloTech, a 10-month-old, L.A.-based startup providing on-demand tech help to consumers’ homes, has raised $12.5 million in Series A funding led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from earlier backers Upfront Ventures, Crosscut Ventures and Accel Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Intel, the 47-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based integrated digital technology giant, revealed yesterday that it has invested $67 million into eight companies in China. TechCrunch has the list here.

Kyruus, a five-year-old, Boston-based maker of physician network optimization software, has raised $25 million in funding led by New Leaf Venture Partners, with participation from Providence Health & Services, Leerink Capital Partners, McKesson Ventures and earlier investors VenrockHighland Capital Partners, Lux Capital, and Fidelity Biosciences.

Lumity, a two-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based startup that aims to simplify complex health plan decisions through its easy-to-use enrollment dashboard, has raised $14 million in funding led by Social+Capital, with participation fromTrue Ventures and Rock Health. TechCrunch has more here.

Percentil, a three-year-old, Madrid-based pre-owned clothing startup, has raised €3.2 million ($3.6 million) in Series A funding from Seaya Ventures, with participation from existing shareholder Active Venture Partners, and others. TechCrunch has more here.

Tascent, a year-old, Los Gatos, Ca.-based biometrics company that focuses on iris recognition systems and whose customers include Dubai International Airport and London Gatwick Airport, has raised $18.5 million in Series A funding led by Tano Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Traveling Spoon, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based company that enables travelers to experience local cuisines at people’s homes around the world, has raised $870,000, incuding from former Expedia CEO Erik Blachford, First Round Capital, the Chennai Angels and Emily and Anjan Mitra, who own the DOSA restaurants in San Francisco. TechCrunch has more here.

Typeform, a three-year-old, Barcelona, Spain-based application that helps users create and respond to surveys and other types of forms on any device, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Index Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Point Nine Capital, Connect Ventures and RTA Ventures, as well as super angels, including Anthony Casalena, CEO of Squarespace; Javier Olivan, CEO of King; and Facebook’s Jay Parikh. TechCrunch has more here.



Apple has acquired two-year-old Mapsense, a San Francisco startup that builds tools for analyzing and visualizing location data. According to Recode’s sources, Apple paid somewhere between $25 million and $30 million for the 12-person team, which will now join Apple. Mapsense had raised $2.5 million in funding, including from General Catalyst Partners, Redpoint Ventures, Formation 8 and Amplify.LA. Back in May, StrictlyVC interviewed Mapsense founder Erez Cohen, a former engineer at the Palantir Technologies.



Microsoft is being sued by a former female employee for alleged gender bias that resulted in lower salaries and lack of promotions for women at the company. Fortune has more here.



CrunchBase unveiled a new “unicorn leaderboard” yesterday. We were able to play with it last week in advance of that release and it’s really good. (It has all kinds of ways to slice and dice information.) Learn more here.


Essential Reads

Facebook says its workplace communications app should be out by year end.



A seal, surfing on a humpback whale.


Retail Therapy

Audi’s all-electric SUV, slated for release in 2018.

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