StrictlyVC: October 22, 2015

Hi, everyone, happy Thursday!

Sorry for the late send — we were on several back-to-back calls this a.m. Also, no column today. More tomorrow!


Top News in the A.M.

Nasdaq has agreed to buy SecondMarket to combine forces with the Nasdaq Private Market, reports TechCrunch. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. The group will facilitate the exchange of shares for private companies, including DocuSign, Pinterest, Shazam and Tango. Bill Siegel, present CEO of SecondMarket, will lead the expanded Nasdaq Private Market business, which will be headquartered in both San Francisco and New York.

Amazon‘s one-hour delivery service, Prime Now, has hit the Bay Area.


New Fundings

Ampy, a 1.5-year-old, Chicago-based kinetic charging battery startup — it makes a wearable spare battery pack charged by human movement — has raised $875,000 in seed funding led by Clean Energy Trust and NewGen Ventures, with participation from numerous angel investors. TechCrunch hasmore here.

Bownty, a 4.5-year-old, Copenhagen, Denmark-based aggregator that collects, sorts and distributes deals from more than 100 deal sites in approximately 1,200 cities in Europe, has raised €3.4 million (roughly $3.9 million) in Series A funding. Backers include HOWZAT Partners, SEED Capital, and Bownty chairman Pia Vemmelund. More here.

Clutter, a 2.5-year-old, L.A.-based high-tech self-storage service, has raised $9 million in Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital. The company has now raised $12.3 million altogether. The WSJ has more here.

DigiTour Media, a five-year-old, L.A.-based company that produces concerts and other live events that feature social media stars, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Viacom, LionTree Entertainment and Slow Ventures. More here.

Honestbee, a year-old, Singapore-based on-demand grocery concierge and delivery service startup, has raised $15 million in funding led by Formation 8, with participation from Pejman Mar Ventures, Gideon Yu and Owen Van Natta. Tech In Asia has more here.

Insureon, a Chicago-based online provider of small business insurance, has raised $31 million in new funding led by Oak HC/FT, with participation from earlier backer Accretive. The Chicago Tribune has more here.

Kaleo Software, a three-year-old, El Segundo, Ca.-based enterprise cloud platform for capturing and sharing employee expertise, has raised $7 million in funding led by OMERS Ventures, with participation from Saturn PartnersMore here.

MoneyForward, a Tokyo, Japan-based online financial management startup, has raised JPY 1.6 billion (US$13.3 million) in Series C funding from SBI Holdings, Shizuoka Bank, Yamaguchi Financial Group, Toho Bank, Fenox Venture Capital, Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation, and Mitsui & Co. Tech in Asia has more here. The company had raised a separate,$12.6 million round, less than a year ago.

Numerify, a three-year-old, Cupertino, Ca.-based company that sells IT business analytics applications to companies, has raised $37.5 million in Series C funding led by Tenaya Capital. Silicon Valley Bank and Four Rivers Group also joined the round, along with earlier backers Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The company has now raised more than $60 million altogether. Vator has more here.

Opinio, a six-month-old, Bangalore, India-based hyperlocal delivery startup, has raised $7 million in Series A funding from Accel Partners, Sands Capital and the logistics firm Delvhivery. Tech in Asia has more here.

Periscope Data, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that has built a platform for data scientists to create fast, detailed and customized visualizations, has raised $9.5 million in Series A funding led by by DFJ, along with participation from earlier backers AngelPad, Susa Ventures and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors. TechCrunch has more here.

Playful Corp., a three-year-old, McKinney, Tex.-based virtual-reality gaming studio founded by Paul Bettner, cofounder of the once-popular mobile game “Words with Friends” (it sold to Zynga for a bundle in 2012), has raised $25 million from undisclosed investors. The WSJ has more here.

Portal Instruments, a three-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based drug delivery company focused on injectable biologics for chronic diseases, has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by 5AM Ventures. Earlier backer Sanofi Sunrise also joined the round. Med Device Online has more here.

Silk Road Medical, an eight-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based company that makes medical devices for neurovascular diseases, has raised $57 million in equity and debt financing. CRG led the debt financing. It also participated in the company’s equity funding, with Warburg Pincus and The Vertical Group. Fierce Medical Devices has more here.

Squad, a months-old, New York-based app that connects groups of friends together (including around events or nights out), has raised $1.7 million in seed funding led by Lerer Hippeau Ventures and First Round Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Sunnova, a three-year-old, Houston, Tex.-based private residential solar service company, has raised $300 million in debt arranged by Credit Suisse and equity funding led by Triangle Peak Partners. Other equity investors include business development companies sponsored by Franklin Square Capital Partners. Sunnova had raised another giant round — $250 million — last November. More here.

The18, a 1.5-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based online content and commerce platform for soccer enthusiasts, has raised $1 million in funding from unnamed individual investors. More here.

Worthy, a three-year-old, New York-based online marketplace for pre-owned luxury goods, has raised $8 million in Series B funding led by Carmel Ventures, with participation from earlier investors, including Star Ventures founder Meir Barel. The company has previously raised more than $8.5 million. Finsmes has more here.


New Funds

General Mills is launching a new venture capital arm called 301 Inc. that will take stakes in small regional food-related startups that are looking for growth capital. Fortune has more here.

According to Fortune’s Dan Primack, KKR is quietly raising its first-ever fund dedicated to growth equity investing in technology companies. Reportedly, the fund isn’t being marketed with a specific target, though KKR is committing to invest roughly $200 million.

In Europe today, Google is opening up applications for startups and others who are interested in receiving grants from its Digital News Initiative Innovation Fund, a €150 million ($170 million) pool that the company has set aside for startups and others building new services, products and technologies for the news industry. Grants range from €50,000 to €1 million but there’s no cap and there are no strings attached, reports TechCrunch.

Reach Capital, a new venture firm in Palo Alto, Ca. has raised a $53 million fund to back education-tech startups, reports Venture Capital Dispatch. Reach was spun out from the nonprofit New Schools Venture Fund earlier this year and will make seed investments of $100,000 to $500,000 and write follow-on checks of $1 million or more.



Publicly traded Ruckus Wireless has acquired Cloudpath Networks, a privately held company that makes secure Wi-Fi onboarding software. Terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed. Wireless Week has more here.



Less than two weeks after Shield Therapeutics pulled the plug on its £110 million ($170 million) IPO, Acacia Pharma has yanked its, too, citing “volatility and uncertainty in global equity markets.” It’s looking like a trend. According to FierceBiotech: “While the window for life science IPOs in London has yet to shut completely . . . it has become much harder to persuade investors to part with large sums of money.”



Twitter co-founder and recently re-installed CEO Jack Dorsey kicked off the company’s big developer event with an apology for Twitter’s past behavior and a commitment to try to make it better. “Our relationship with developers got confusing, unpredictable.” More here.

“Give us a few years,” says Uber CEO Travis Kalanick of taking the company public (as dozens of investors pound their fists into nearby walls).

“I did find [Twitter] challenging to use at times and intimidating to use,” Omid Kordestani tells the WSJ in his first interview since being named executive chairman at Twitter last week.

A former SpaceX employee has filed a class action lawsuit against the rocket company, saying hourly employees are regularly expected to work overtime hours without proper compensation. It’s at least the fourth lawsuit alleging SpaceX violated California labor law to be filed since 2014, reports the International Business Times.



The private equity advisory business StepStone Group is looking to hire a research analyst. The job is in San Diego.


Essential Reads

Airbnb regrets its tone-deaf hotel ads and is taking them down “immediately.”

Yesterday, YouTube made its top video creators an offer they can’t refuse (because their content will disappear otherwise).



Has it become impossible to prosecute white collar crime?


Retail Therapy

Smart Ped.

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