StrictlyVC: October 1, 2015

October already? (Hope you’re having a great Thursday, everyone.)


Top News in the A.M.

Nest Labs just opened up its smart home technology to other companies.

A “terrifying” Yelp for people is coming. Maybe. If it gets funding. It’s called, ahem, Peeple. And as many of you will recall, we’ve kind of been down this path before (so don’t panic).


Australia’s Biggest Tech VC Firm on What’s Happening Now

A couple of weeks ago, a three-year-old venture firm that’s focused on Australian entrepreneurs, Blackbird Ventures, announced an impressive $200 million for its second fund.

That’s nearly seven times the $30 million it raised for its debut fund. It also makes Blackbird the biggest tech-focused venture firm in Australia, even while its biggest bets, including the graphic design platform Canva, have yet to exit.

To better understand the firm, we talked with Blackbird cofounder Niki Scevak, who manages Blackbird with just one other GP and a venture partner. Scevak helped shine more light on the whole operation — and the broader landscape.

Much more here.


New Fundings

Aceable, a three-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based education startup whose online courses include driver’s ed course work and standardized test prep, has raised $4.7 million in seed funding led by Silverton Partners, with participation from Floodgate Ventures, NextGen Angels and Capital Factory. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.

BigPanda, a three-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based data science platform that correlates IT data and alerts into consolidated insights for its customers, has raised $16 million in Series B financing led by Battery Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Sequoia Capital and Mayfield. Geektime hasmore here.

Dolly, a two-year-old, Seattle-based company centered around on-demand moving services, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Maveron. The company has now raised roughly $10 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

General Assembly, a 4.5-year-old, New York-based company that offers classes, workshops, full-time immersive programs and online educational programming, has raised $70 million in Series D funding from Wellington Management and earlier backers, which include Institutional Venture Partners, Maveron, Jefferson Education Accelerator, Learn Capital Venture Partners, Rethink Education, Western Tech and Harmony Trust. The company has now raised $110 million altogether. The WSJ has more here.

Happn, a two-year-old, Paris, France-based location-based mobile dating app, has raised $14 million in Series B funding from Idinvest, with participation from Alven Capital, DN Capital, Raine Ventures and numerous angel investors, including Fabrice Grinda and Gil Penchina. TechCrunch has more here.

Lytmus, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based “flight simulator for technical talent”  — it’s an immersive environment where hiring managers can see candidates operating inside of a web-based virtual machine — has raised $7.2 million from New Enterprise Associates and Accel Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

NodePrime, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based company that aims to help service providers, SaaS players and online gaming companies reliably operate massive IT infrastructures, has raised $7 million in seed funding from Menlo Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, Formation 8, Ericsson, Initialized Capital, Crosslink Capital and TEEC Angel Fund. TechCrunch has more here.

Renovate America, a 5.5-year-old, San Diego-based company that partners with local governments to finance residential energy upgrades, has raised $90 million in new funding led by DFJ Growth with participation from Silver Lake Kraftwerk. The round eportedly values the company — which previously raised $85 million — at north of $500 million. Venture Capital Dispatch has the story here.

SoFi, a 4.5-year-old, San Francisco-based marketplace lender, has raised $1 billion in Series E funding led by the Japanese telecom giant SoftBank. Earlier investors also joined the round, including Third Point Ventures and affiliates of Third Point LLC; Wellington Management Company; Institutional Venture Partners; Renren; Baseline Ventures; and DCM Ventures. The company has now raised $1.42 billion altogether. TechCrunch has more here.



Apple just added its an airplane executive to its board of directors, bringing on James Bell, former CFO and corporate president of The Boeing Company.

Autonomy founder Mike Lynch has just sued Hewlett-Packard in British court for $150 million, accusing the American tech company of making false and negligent statements about him and other former Autonomy executives following its takeover of the company. The New York Times has the story.

Last summer, the “unicorn” company Evernote parted ways with longtime CEO Phil Libin (who recently joined General Catalyst as a general partner). Now it’s parting with 47 employees, or 13 percent of its staff. More here.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey is expected be named the company’s new permanent CEO as early as today, Recode reported yesterday. Dorsey will apparently continue to run Square, the payments company he founded where he’s also CEO.



Ninety venture-backed M&A deals were reported in the third quarter, 20 of which had an aggregate deal value of $5.1 billion. That’s up 39 percent compared to the second quarter and marks the strongest quarter for M&A exits with disclosed value this year, according to new data out from Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association. Things on the IPO front weren’t nearly as brisk, with 13 venture-backed IPOs raising $1.7 billion during the third quarter — a 55 percent drop in the number of offerings from the second quarter.

In fact, Renaissance Capital just released its third quarter IPO review and it’s u-g-l-y. The IPO market slowed to 34 deals altogether, down 43 percent year-over-year. More, a significant number of IPOs were pulled or delayed and, for the first time since 2011, average IPO returns were negative (-4 percent). Much more here.


Essential Reads

Scientists are working on space-based solar panels.

With a new name and financial backing from Chinese billionaire Lu Guanqiu, electric-car maker Fisker Automotive may just have a shot at life after death.



San Francisco’s housing shortage, illustrated through alarming Craigslist ads.

How to cancel your Apple Music subscription.

Half of U.S. freelance workers say they wouldn’t take a job, no matter what.


Retail Therapy

Want waterfront views? We’ll get you your waterfront views. Asking price: $1.995 million.

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