StrictlyVC: October 5, 2015

Hi, everyone, hope you had a fun weekend.


Top News in the A.M.

The U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim nations agreed this morning to the largest regional trade accord in history, a model that could tie together 40 percent of the world’s economy, from Canada and Chile to Japan and Australia. More here.

Jack Dorsey, cofounder of Twitter and Square, was officially named Twitter’s permanent CEO this morning. As readers know, Dorsey is also CEO of Square, which will be going public in the not-too-distant future. Other changes announced this morning: Adam Bain, the company’s president of global revenue, was just promoted to COO and former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is stepping down from the board. More here.


Much Ado About Peeple

“Imagine every positive and ugly opinion about you— from your mother to that awkward co-worker you rejected at the company Christmas party— centrally located on one online profile. Sound scary? It is.”

That’s the way people are characterizingPeeple, a year-and-a-half-year-old, Calgary-based company whose app is currently being beta tested by 35,000 people yet has garnered an almost endless stream of publicity since being described last week in the Washington Post as “terrifying.”

Peeple lets people rate other people on a scale of one to five stars, as well as to write a review explaining the rating. But it’s not the first outfit to take a swing at encouraging people to present a picture of other people. In fact, that quote above? It was written by former TechCrunch writer Evelyn Rusli in a 2010 review of a similar app called Unvarnished that also used a five-star rating system and invited people to explain the rating.

You may not remember it, because Unvarnished didn’t work, and its path strongly suggests that Peeple may head in the same direction.

Let’s start with what went wrong at Unvarnished, which, like Peeple, was widely vilified in the press at its launch — so much so that it changed its name to Honestly six months after its public debut.

Honestly co-founder Pete Kazanjy — who later remodeled the San Francisco company into a recruiting startup called TalentBin and sold it to Monster  — says Honestly ran into a number of obstacles in its attempt to become an enduring reputation management site.

First, as you might imagine, there’s was a disconnect between the people who were being rated and the users who were doing the rating (anonymously, it should be mentioned).

More here.


New Fundings

Draper James, a six-month-old, New York-based American South-inspired lifestyle brand co-founded by actress Reese Witherspoon, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Forerunner Ventures, with participation from Stone Canyon Industries and JH Partners. The company has now collected $17 million from investors altogether. Forbes has more here.

Neumob, a 1.5-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based service that helps mobile app developers get their in-app content to users faster, has raised $8.5 million in Series A funding led by Accel Partners, with participation from Shasta Ventures, Eniac Ventures and Lightbank Ventures, as well as private investors, including RealNetworks founder Rob Glaser. The round follows a $2.3 million seed round earlier this year. TechCrunch has more here.

Peaxy, a three-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based software provider that enables data access and supports advanced analytics across the enterprise, has raised $15 million in Series B funding from a gaggle of individual investors, including microprocessor pioneer Federico Faggin. Peaxy has now raised $32 million altogether. SiliconAngle has more here.

ReplyBuy, a 4.5-year-old, Scottsdale, Az.-based company that enables sports fans to buy tickets to events via SMS messages, has raised $2 million in seed funding from Mrtnz Ventures, Enspire Capital, Kosinksi Ventures, SEAG Ventures and individual angels. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.

RunTitle, a four-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based online marketplace for information about mineral ownership, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Founders Fund, with participation from Deep Fork Capital and return backer Austin Ventures. More here.

YouNow, a four-year-old, New York-based social network that connects audiences and broadcasters in real time, has raised $15 million in new funding co-led by earlier backers Venrock and investor Oren Zeev, with participation from Comcast Ventures. The company has now collected $30 million altogether from investors, including Union Square Ventures, which led its Series A round in 2013. We’ve written up much more about it here.


New Funds

Fidelity Biosciences and the tech venture group of Devonshire Investors — both affiliates of Fidelity Investments — have merged to form F-Prime Capital. FierceBiotech has more here.

Octopus Ventures, the 16-year-old, London-based venture fund, is launching a new $140 million (£92 million) growth-stage fund to back the most promising companies in its portfolio as they mature. It’s called Octopus Opportunities, and the firm says investments will range from £250,000 to £25 million. TechCrunch has more here.



The team behind Endaga, a 1.5-year-old, Berkeley, Ca.-based startup that focused on creating locally-owned, small-scale, independent cellular networks to run by and for rural communities, has been acqui-hired by FacebookAccording to CrunchBase, Endaga had raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Great Oaks Venture CapitalKapor Capital, and TechammerMore here.

IBM just announced plans to acquire Cleversafe, an 11-year-old Chicago-based data storage vendor. Terms of the deal aren’t being dislosed. Cleversafe had raised roughly $100 million from investors, shows CrunchBase. Its backers include Alsop Louie Partners, In-Q-Tel, and New Enterprise Asssociates, among others. TechCrunch has more here.



Gemini, the bitcoin exchanged started by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, has finally received approval to launch from the New York State Department of Financial Services. More specfically, reports TechCrunch, the company is now allowed to operate as a chartered limited liability trust company, which is different and subject to stricter regulatory approval than a BitLicense, which is a new business license issued by the NYSDFS for businesses that deal with Bitcoin. More here.


Essential Reads

L.A.-based Science created a popular culture app called Wishbone four months ago, and it’s already struck a chord with more than 3 million teenage girls. Business Insider has the story here.

LinkedIn might have to pay you money for spamming your email contacts.

Twitter has abandoned plans to expand into Uber and Square’s 1455 Market Street headquarters, potentially due to a hiring slowdown, according to the San Francisco Business Times.



The mobile private island that just upped the ante on billionaire toys.

A look at hedge fund manager Ken Griffin’s $300 million residential spending spree.

A new $5 service will cancel your Comcast account for you.

Please tell us this is not a real thing.


Retail Therapy

Oas1s Houses.

Texture, a “Netflix for magazines.”

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