StrictlyVC: October 14, 2015

Hello, dear readers, happy Wednesday!


Top News in the A.M.

Apple just lost a patent lawsuit to the University of Wisconsin. More here.

Uber is expanding its same-day delivery service, with an eye toward crushing rivals Deliv and Postmates.


Forget Amazon Gift Cards: Give the Gift of Stock

There are plenty of people who’d happily become shareholders in companies like Apple and Facebook if the process of buying stock were simpler. They are plenty of people who’d prefer to give the gift of stock but who hand out money or retailers’ gift cards for the same reason.

Stockpile, a five-year-old, 15-person, Palo Alto, Ca.-based brokerage services firm has a solution to that problem: Stock gift cards. They say they’ll be everywhere soon, too, thanks in part to $15 million in Series A funding the company has just stockpiled from Sequoia Capital, Mayfield, and actor-investor Ashton Kutcher.

We talked yesterday with Stockpile founder and CEO Avi Lele, along with its chief commercial officer (and former PayPal general manager), Dan Schatt. We asked how the company works, and why traditional brokerages haven’t created gift cards for stock much sooner.

Avi, you previously spent 16 years as a patent attorney. Why start Stockpile?

AL: I’d long thought that rather than buy gifts for my niece and nephew, things they toss to the side after a couple of days, it’d be neat to turn them onto something that would last into the future. So I tried to buy them shares, but it was such a pain that I gave up. You had to open a brokerage account, then get their social security numbers, then fund the account with a couple thousand dollars. And even then, a lot of shares were too expensive. I was like, wait, this is too hard.

You say you then spent four years quietly building a licensed brokerage platform to turn stock into a consumer product. Who are some of your partners?

DS: We’ve got great distribution partners already, including Blackhawk Network, which has 180,000 locations. It’s the company that powers the gift cards you see in racks everywhere from Safeway to Giant Eagle to Toy “R” Us. You’ll be able to buy [our cards] off the shelf at Kmart. They can light up all sorts of chain locations for us.

Much more here.


New Fundings

Area 1 Security, a two-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based cybersecurity startup, has raised $15 million in funding led by Icon Ventures and previous backer Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers. Other participants in the round include earlier investors Allegis Capital, Cowboy Ventures, Data CollectiveFirst Round Capital, RedSeal Networks CEO Ray Rothrock and Shape Security CEO Derek Smith. The company has now raised $25.5 million altogether. Fortune has more here.

Audentes Therapeutics, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based gene-therapy company, has raised $65 million in Series C fundingco-led by earlier backer Sofinnova Ventures and new investor Redmile Group. Other participants in the round include RA Capital Management, T. Rowe Price Associates, Rock Springs Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, Cowen Private Investments and Foresite Capital. More here.

BuildZoom, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup whose online marketplace puts users in touch with licensed contractors, has raised $10.6 million in Series A funding led by Joe Lonsdale of Formation 8, with participation from Y Combinator and Peter Thiel. The company says the investment from Y Combinator, whose program BuildZoom passed through in 2013, represents one of its largest to date. More here.

Concord, a months-old, San Francisco-based contracts management software company, has raised $2.7 million in funding from Cota Capital, WTI, Alven Capital and angel investors, including Zuora cofounder and CEO Tien Tzuo.More here.

Figure 1, a nearly three-year-old, Toronto-based crowdsourced medical image library for healthcare professionals (they can share patient photos to obtain feedback), has raised $5 million in new funding led by earlier investor Union Square Ventures, with participation from other earlier backers, including Rho Canada, Version One Ventures and Graph Ventures. Allen & Co. and individual investors also joined the round.

Kabbage, a six-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based online platform that loans money to businesses and individuals using a wide set of online data and algorithms to measure credit-worthiness, has raised $135 million in Series E funding and expanded its credit facility — the money it has on hand to fulfill loans — to $900 million. The round was led by Reverence Capital Partners, with participation from big banks, including Holland’s ING, Spain’s Santander (via InnoVentures), and Canada’s Scotiabank. TechCrunch has more here.

Lookup, a year-old, Bangalore, India-based messaging system used to connect users with merchants in their local area, has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding from Khosla Impact, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Catamaran Ventures and Global Founders Capital, the investment fund of the Samwer brothers. TechCrunch has more here.

Lyra Health, a 10-month-old, Burlingame, Ca.-based company aiming to help employers and health plans better manage populations of people with behavioral-health illnesses, has raised $35 million in Series A funding led by Greylock Partners, with participation from Breyer Capital, Providence Health & Services, Origin Capital Management, Castlight Health, and earlier backer Venrock. More here.

Nucleus, a 1.5-year-old, Philadelphia, Pa.-based company whose connected home device lets families have two-way audio and video conversations in the home or between homes or with any mobile device, has raised $3.37 million in seed funding led by Foxconn, which will be manufacturing the device. Other participants include FF Angels and StartUp PHL, a Philadelphia-based public-private venture fund led by Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Playlab, a three-year-old, Hong Kong-based mobile games firm that’s focused on Southeast Asia, has raised $5 million in Series B funding from Monk’s Hill Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Service, a months-old, L.A.-based on-demand customer service startup (it caters to the disgruntled customers of on-demand companies), has raised $3.1 million in seed funding led by Founders Fund, with participation from Menlo Ventures, Maveron Ventures, Eight Ventures and a handful of individual investors. In June, the company had raised $540,000 from Arena Ventures and angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

SteelBrick, a six-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based quote-to-cash cloud service aimed primarily at small- and mid-market companies, has raised $48 million in Series C funding led by Institutional Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers Emergence Capital, Salesforce Ventures and Shasta Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Veridu, a three-year-old, London-based online verification service, has raised £800,000 ($1.2 million) in seed funding from various institutional and private investors, including the newish fund Force Over Mass Capital, Knightsbridge Executive Services, and Belgian Callataÿ & Wouters Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds

Highland Europe, a Geneva-based growth-stage venture firm, has raised a new €332 million ($379 million) fund that will target startups in the internet, mobile and software space, investing between €10 million and €30 million in them. TechCrunch has more here.

The San Francisco-based seed investment firm SignalFire, founded by former General Catalyst partner Chris Farmer, has closed its debut fund with $53 million. Venture Capital Dispatch has the lowdown here.



Customer support giant Zendesk is acquiring French startup BIME Analytics for $45 million in cash. BIME Analytics is a business intelligence startup with a software-as-a-service approach. It had raised $3.4 million from Alven Capital and business angels. TechCrunch has the story here.

Google has acquired Divshot, an HTML5 web-hosting platform. The Santa Monica-based company had raised $1.18 million in funding from TenOneTen Ventures, 500 Startups and numerous others. TechCrunch has more here.



Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has a new general partner in Eric Feng, who was most recently CTO at Flipboard, a Kleiner-backed company. Feng is well-acquainted with the firm; he worked for Kleiner five years ago, helping invest  in green tech companies.

Twitter has named Omid Kordestani, Google’s former chief business officer, as its new executive chairman. More here.

Adam Lisagor of Sandwich Media has a new show and it looks interesting.

LivingSocial, the Washington-based local deals platform partly owned by Amazon, is laying off 200 people, which is 20 percent of its workforce. More here.



eBay is looking for a corporate development director. The job is in San Jose, Ca.



CB Insights and KPMG have released a third-quarter report that’s chock full of data. One of its most notable points: while deal volume dropped from the second quarter (we’d written about a slow-down here), venture-backed investments year to date are 11 percent higher than all venture-backed investments last year. Here’s a short wrap-up about the new report in TechCrunch. For the whole enchilada — it’s worth reading — you can check it out here.


Essential Reads

Looks like Y Combinator will be leading deals after all. It’s heading up the $30 million Series B round of Checkr, which runs background checks and vets hires for on-demand startups.

Facebook is trying out a dedicated video feed.

Here’s what happens when you get into an Uber crash.



Worst. Aunt. Ever.

“Duh? Who are we? No one.” [Abruptly race to car, run over Tesla employees.]


Retail Therapy

Live like a Winklevoss in the twins’ L.A. home. Cost: Just $110,000 per month.

Another option: A Texas mansion for $1.27 million. We should probably note it has a cinema room painstakingly designed to recreate the Starship Enterprise.

Filed Under:

Don’t Miss Out!

Sign up today to receive a free daily email with everything you need to start your day. Plus, keep track of the companies and personalities that will shape the industry in the months and years to come. Let StrictlyVC be your very own venture capital concierge.

StrictlyVC on Twitter