StrictlyVC: September 28, 2015

Hi, and welcome back, lovely and talented readers; hope you had a wonderful weekend.


Top News in the A.M.

Five things to expect at Google‘s big event tomorrow.

Facebook introduced a slate of new advertising products yesterday, most of which are aimed at luring TV advertisers onto the social network.

Apple just announced that it has sold 13 million iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus devices over its first weekend. It’s a new record for the company, which sold 10 million units last year and 9 million units in 2013.


Steve Jurvetson on DFJ, Elon Musk, and the Widening Gap Between Rich and Poor

Steve Jurvetson is widely recognized as among the smartest people in Silicon Valley, which is saying something. He graduated from Stanford at the top of his class in two-and-a-half years. He hangs out with people like Google cofounder Larry Page (and keeps up with them). As a venture capitalist, he may also have more billion-dollar bets to his name than anyone else, including Hotmail, Kana Communications, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX.

Put another way, when Jurvetson has something to say, it’s typically worth listening. And Jurvetson had plenty to say at StrictlyVC’s most recent San Francisco event, held the week before last. Some of what we discussed with him there follows, edited for length.

On whether he’s still “rolling up his sleeves” 20 years into an already highly lucrative career:

“I love what I do. I love to learn,” he offered. Juverston went on to say that he’s as busy as he’s ever been and sits on 10 boards, though he “pulled back” for a month or two this past summer to “get my head around the sheer number of things I’m involved with.”

On whether Jurvetson might strike out on his own after all these years, a la Jim Breyer of Accel and others:

“To what end? One reason to do that would be that you’re frustrated with your partners and you can’t stand going to work. That’d be a good reason to leave. The other would be if you think you can do better on your own than with a group. That’s where I think the most profound personal growth and learning for me has occurred.  Through much of my career, I just thought of [anyone with a different thinking style] as deviant. Just not good for the world. It was like, Why are you here? And it didn’t occur to me that that was an unusual point of view. And if I fast-forward today and . . . I’ve actually come to respect the most irritatingly challenging people I’ve worked with as really valuable in improving group decision-making and what to do and what to invest in. Bottom line is: I wouldn’t want to leave and do my own thing, because I wouldn’t attract those kinds of people as easily, and what’s the point? If I’m going to just recreate the diverse team I have already, why would I do that?”

On what Elon Musk – who Jurvetson has known for more than 15 years — is like (and whether he listens to his investors):

“I also worked for Steve Jobs [at his computer company, NeXT] and I see some similarities. Yes, he listens. Unlike Jobs, he’s more engineering-centric than marketing centric, though both are very detailed product architects who have this visceral agitation with imperfection. They just need a product to be perfect.

Elon has a reputation for having strong opinions and sometimes insisting on things . . . and yet, he really respects and needs a team that can execute. So he doesn’t suffer fools. So there are number of folks who are no longer with these companies and face this cognitive dissonance [of] ‘ If I [was with] this A-plus organization and I’m no longer there, there must be something wrong with me.’ And so there are some detractors. There’s a perception that he’s hard. But in board meetings and such, he listens, he’s fascinating, he has incredible insights . . . and he will change his point of view in the face of evidence. He also loves to and just seems to get almost visceral enjoyment  in veering off topic and brainstorming about things like: do we live in a simulation.

Much more (and it’s an interesting conversation) here.


New Fundings

Collibra, a seven-year-old, Brussels-based automated data management company, has raised $23 million in funding from Index Ventures and earlier backer Dawn Capital. SiliconAngle has more here.

DoveConviene, a five-year-old, Milan, Italy-based platform for digital catalogues and leaflets, has raised  €10 million ($11.2 million) in Series C funding. The round was led by Highland Capital Partners Europe, with participation from earlier backers Principia SGR, 360 Capital Partners and Merifin Capital. More here.

Kreditech, a 3.5-year-old, Hamburg, Germany-based company that’s building a suite of credit and banking products for consumers who have little or no credit history, has raised €82.5 million ($92 million) in Series C funding led by the private equity firm J.C. Flowers, with participation from Peter ThielAmadeus Capital Partners and earlier backers Värde Partners, HPE Growth Capital and Blumberg Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Netsertive, a 6.5-year-old, Research Triangle Park, N.C.-based digital marketing intelligence platform, has raised $2.7 million in equity funding, according to an SEC filing. Earlier investors include RRE Ventures, Harbert Venture Partners and Greycroft Partners. More here.

Ometria, a two-year-old, London-based customer insight and marketing platform developed specifically for retailers, has raised $2.5 million in funding led by Inventure Partners, with participation from Force Over Mass Capital and earlier backer SaatchInvest, along with numerous angel investors. The company has now raised $5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Paintzen, a two-year-old, New York-based company whose on-demand app allows users to book next-day interior or exterior painting for a home, office or store, has raised $7.2 million in Series A funding led by Bullpen Capital. The company, a graduate of the Angelpad accelerator, had previously raised $1.8 million in seed funding. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.

Tessemae’s All Natural, a six-year-old, Baltimore-based condiment company, has raised $5 million in funding led by Sagamore Ventures, with participation from Plank Industries (the private investment outfit of Under Armour founder Kevin Plank); and Baltimore-based War Horse, a real estate development firm started by Plank’s big brother, Scott Plank.

UE LifeSciences, a six-year-old Philadelphia, Pa.-based health technology developer, has raised $3 million in Series A funding led by Aarin Capital, with participation from Unitus Seed Fund.

Walker & Company Brands, a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based company whose flagship product, Bevel, is a shaving system aimed to reduce razor bumps and irritation in men with coarse hair, has raised $24 million in Series B funding led by Institutional Venture Partners. Others of the many participants in the round, include Andreessen Horowitz, Upfront VenturesDaher Capital, Collaborative Fund, Google Ventures, Felicis VenturesMelo7 Tech Partners and individual investors Earvin “Magic” JohnsonJohn Legend, Andre Iguodala, and John Maeda. The company also announced today that it has signed a deal with Target to sell Bevel at select Target stores and on

Wheels Up, a two-year-old, New York-based membership-only luxury airline, has raised $115 million in funding led by T. Rowe Price at a $540 million post-money valuation. Wheels Up founder and CEO Kenny Dichter previously founded Marquis Jet, a private aviation company acquired in 2010 by NetJets, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway. The WSJ has the story here.


Can Jack Dorsey lead two publicly traded companies? A new Fortune report suggests we might find out soon. According to its sources, Square will file its S-1 this week or next.

Business-software tools maker Atlassian, valued most recently at more than $3 billion, has filed for an IPO and expects to debut on the U.S. markets before the end of the year, according to the WSJ.



Rentrak, a publicly traded, Portland, Ore.-based company whose platform measures movies and TV viewing, has acquired SponsorHub, a New York-based big data platform for the sports and entertainment industry. The amount of the deal was not disclosed. SponsorHub had raised two rounds of seed funding, shows CrunchBase. Its investors included Quotidian Ventures,Esther Dyson, and Barry Silbert.



Activist investor Carl Icahn says he’s releasing a video at midnight tonight (presumably EST) to wake up people to the “critical matters” that “we need to be far more aware of.” (CNBC interprets this as economic catastrophe.)

Buzzfeed reports on the “journey of Adam Goldenberg and his longtime partner, Don Ressler, from the murky fringes of internet marketing to the pinnacle of paper wealth in Silicon Valley.” Goldenberg and Ressler cofounded the online fashion company JustFab, and Buzzfeed asserts that the “ugly hallmarks” of their previous businesses live on in their now five-year-old company, which has raised more than $250 million from investors, including Technology Crossover Ventures and Matrix Partners.

Ozy drops in on the San Francisco offices of First Round Capital to spend time with Rob Hayes, the “guy who sniffed out Uber first.”

Jeffrey Leventhal, a cofounder of Work Market, a five-year-old, New York-based marketplace for managing contractors and freelancers (it’s backed by Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures), has joined BOLDstart Ventures as a venture partner. BOLDstart, as many of you will know, is a four-year-old, seed-stage venture fund that largely focuses on enterprise companies in New York.


Essential Reads

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to Silicon Valley over the weekend, and extracted some promises in the process. Google plans to bring free Wi-Fi to its 10 million rail passengers a day. Qualcomm, a chip maker with thousands of employees in India, meanwhile promised $150 million to finance Indian start-ups. More here.



Motherhood, screened off.

Stunning photos from last night’s rare super blood moon.

Mean tweets.


Retail Therapy

Luna Moon lanterns.

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