StrictlyVC: September 18, 2015

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you have a terrific weekend.

Apologies for the late send; we’re are little under the weather this a.m.

We also have pictures of Wednesday night‘s event. We missed many of you who arrived after things kicked off (our photographer had to skedaddle after the last chat). We hope you enjoy them, though. Again, great seeing so many of you!


Top News in the A.M.

Ruh roh. Volkswagen was just told to recall nearly 500,000 cars over emissions software that was intentionally designed to circumvent environmental standards for reducing smog, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.


James Currier and Stan Chudnovsky Unveil Their New Incubator, NFX Guild

A new Bay Area accelerator, NFX Guild, has emerged on the scene with plans to run a three-month-long program twice a year for between 10 and 15 companies. It has a novel approach, too.

For one thing, there is no publicly available application process. Startups will be referred to NFX by “scouts,” after which a select number will receive invitations into the program. The scouts are mostly VCs, including from CRV, Shasta Ventures, and Greylock Partners, three firms that have helped fund NFX, which is managing $10 million and will invest $120,000 in each startup. Some of the venture firms will have already financed the startups and be using NFX to help whip their portfolio companies into shape. In other cases, NFX will work with startups that the firms haven’t yet funded but whose progress they want to track.

NFX will also have a very narrow focus on building and growing network effects businesses, providing 30 hours of unique curriculum toward that end. (In this regard, it’s not unlike the “blitzscaling” class that LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman is teaching at Stanford this fall.)

We’d guess that the startups – 16 of which just quietly graduated from its debut batch — will be getting some very strong counsel in exchange.

More here.


New Fundings

ChoiceStream, a 14-year-old, Boston-based programmatic ad tech company, has raised $14 million in Series C funding led by North Atlantic Capital, with participation from earlier investors. The company has now raised roughly $100 million, shows CrunchBase. More here.

Clover Health, a year-old, San Francisco-based health insurance startup, has raised $100 million in Series A equity and debt financing that included First Round Capital and Athyrium Capital Management, though in an interview with Fortune, the company declined to break down more specifics about the funding.

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

NextEV, a 1.5-yar-old, Shanghai, China-based electric car maker aiming to take on Tesla, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Sequoia CapitalTencent Holdings, Hillhouse Capital and Joy Capital. China Money Network has more here.

OriginGPS, a nine-year-old, Lod, Israel-based maker of miniature global navigation satellite system solutions for wearables, has raised $1.75 million in funding from the technology accelerator Lab IX and undisclosed existing shareholders. More here.

Padlet, a three-year-old, Santiago, Chile-based company focused on simple and collaborative website creation platform, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding led by Cherubic VC, with participation from numerous individual investors, including Flexport CEO Ryan Peterson. The company had previously raised roughly $450,000 from angels and Y Combinator. TechCrunch has more here.

Portfolium, a two-year-old, San Diego-based company whose “e-portfolios” help students visually showcase their skills, projects and experiences to prospective employers, has raised $1.2 million in funding from University Ventures, Seed San Diego, and Vertical Venture Partners. More here.

Rubicon Global, a seven-year-old, Atlanta-based on-demand trash removal and recycling company, has raised $50 million in new funding led by Nima Capital, with participation from Goldman Sachs, Wellington Management,Henry Kravis, Paul Tudor Jones and Leonardo DiCaprio. The WSJ has more here.

Sun Basket, a year-old, San Francisco-based meal delivery service that emphasizes its organic ingredients, has raised $4.5 million in new funding co-led by PivotNorth Capital and Baseline Ventures, with participation from Vulcan Capital, Roth Capital, The Florence Group, Rembrandt VenturesCorrelation Ventures, Relevance Capital and Lucas Venture Group. Inc has more here.



Penumbra, an 11-year-old, Alameda, Ca.-based company that makes medical devices for those who have experienced strokes and other neurovascular diseases, began trading publicly this morning and for now, its shares are soaring. More here.



According to Fortune’s Dan Primack, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has added a pair of junior partners to its early-stage venture capital practice: Swati Mylavarapu, who previously worked in product marketing at Square, and Muzzammil Zaveri, formerly part of the Silicon Valley investment team for Chinese Internet giant Tencent.


Essential Reads

Apple has met with California officials to discuss self-driving car, reports the Guardian, which concludes the company may be close to unveiling an autonomous vehicle. (Our well-sourced colleagues at TechCrunch would disagree with that “close” assessment, for what it’s worth.)

Wired on the rise of voice interfaces.



Children can make jokes a lot earlier than you might guess.

Pluto, up close.


Retail Therapy

Zeb Pilot House. (H/T: Uncrate)

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