StrictlyVC: October 26, 2015

Hello! Hope you had a terrific weekend, everyone.


Top News in the A.M.

Yikes. From the New York Times: “Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.”

The U.S. government-backed American Egg Board has been working to sink the privately held food startup Hampton Creek, reveals a report from The Guardian that turns up leaked emails describing Hampton Creek as a “major threat” and a “crisis” for the $5.5 billion-a-year egg industry.


Bessemer’s Byron Deeter on Mobile Enterprise Apps: They’ll Create “Tens of Billions” of Dollars

Top SaaS investors have been saying for nearly a year that the next billion-dollar market opportunities are rooted in mobile enterprise apps – software for people who don’t sit behind a desk but do keep a smartphone in their pocket.

Last month, we talked about the trend with Kevin Spain of Emergence Capital. More recently, we caught up with Byron Deeter of Bessemer Venture Partners, who says Bessemer, which has already made 10 related bets, is similarly making a giant push into more mobile enterprise apps businesses. More from our chat, lightly edited, here:

How long have you been focusing on mobile enterprise apps?

We probably began focusing on this 18 months ago, with investments that range from pure plays like [the conference calling software company] Speakeasy to vertical applications – meaning they have mobile-heavy use cases or vertical use cases — like [the construction management software company] Procore; ServiceTitan [it makes management software for home services businesses like plumbing]; and ClearCare [which makes software for home care agencies].

Something like 80 percent of the 3 billion people in the world who work do not sit behind a desk. Given the opportunities, how do you decide which industries to go after first?

We look at industries and market size and sectors. We look at the state of existing technologies. And we try to have hypotheses around which verticals should fall first and where the biggest opportunities should lie. But we’re also very opportunistic in terms of meeting with great entrepreneurs and trying to find out where traction is happening because often it happens in areas you wouldn’t expect. For example, construction wasn’t an area we were looking at as an early adopter segment. Now that we work with Procore, it seems obvious in hindsight. But it isn’t something you would have seen outside in. It took industry insiders and proactive outreach to understand the power of the trend.

Which is suddenly huge. There seem to be a lot of mobile companies now tackling the construction market. 

There can be multiple winners in these markets; they’re surprisingly big. Take ClearCare in the health care space. Healthcare alone is massive and it’s just sourcing a small part of it.

The company is [focused on] home care workers for a specific type of segment. But there are probably dozens of other opportunities to do mobile-centric things in healthcare, within the hospital setting, within the home setting . . . we think it will be many years in the making, and that these are very early days.

What industry do you think is ripe for mobile disruption next?

More here.


New Fundings

Angaza, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose hardware and software platform enables consumers to pay for clean energy devices in an affordable way over time, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by an unnamed U.S.-based family office, with participation from New York-based The Social Entrepreneurs Fund and several others. The company had raised $1.5 million in seeding funding in 2013. TechCrunch has more here.

GoCardless, a four-year-old, London-based service that allows smaller merchants to easily set up interbank transfers for customers, is reportedly in talks to raise a “big round of funding,” in the “tens of millions” of dollars. Business Insider has the story here. GoCardless last raised $7 million in January 2014 from Balderton Capital, Accel Partners, and Passion Capital.

IronNet Cybersecurity, a year-old, Fulton, Md.-based cybesecurity company, has raised $32.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Trident Capital Cybersecurity, with participation from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Jifiti, a four-year-old, Columbus, Oh.-based company that offers packaged gift registries, including the ability to trade an item for another of equal value (without integrating with the retail sites), has raised $3.3 million in funding from Liberty Israel Venture Fund, a subsidiary of the Liberty Media Corp., and the Schottenstein Store Corp. GeekTime has more here.

Karhoo, a 10-month-old, New York-based taxi comparison app that plans to launch in January, has reportedly raised a whopping $250 million and plans to raise more than $1 billion as part of an attempt to combat the likes of Uber. Confirmed financial backers include David Kowitz, cofounder of Indus Capital Partners; Jonathan Feuer, managing partner at CVC Capital Partners; and Nick Gatfield, former chairman and chief executive of Sony Music Entertainment, the record label. The Financial Times has the story.

Knip, a two-year-old, Zurich, Switzerland-based “mobile-first” digital insurance broker, has raised $15.7 million in Series B funding led by Route 66 Ventures, with participation from QED Investors, Creathor Ventures and earlier backers Orange Growth Capital and Redalpine Capital. TechCrunch hasmore here.

Magic Leap, a four-year-old, Dania Beach, Fla.-based semi-secretive “cinematic reality” company that has already raised a giant funding round from Googleand other investors, is talking with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba as the lead investor in a new round. As we told you on Friday, the South Florida Business Journal has reported that Magic Leap is raising upwards of a billion dollars. Recode has more here.

Palantir, the 11-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based data analytics company that caters largely to government agencies and Wall Street, has added an extra $105 million to an earlier round of $450 million in funding, according to a new SEC filing. Its latest round of financing now totals more than $554 million and, as of a July WSJ report, values the company at $20 billion. Palantir has raised more than $1 billion from investors to date, In-Q-Tel, Founders Fund and Tiger Global Management. Business Insider has more here.

Signals Group, a six-year-old data analytics company that delivers intelligence to Fortune 500 companies to support product development strategy, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from existing investor TPY Capital. More here.

SimilarWeb, a six-year-old, Tel Aviv-based company whose search tools help users understand insights about sites and mobile apps (including those of their competitors), has raised $25 million in funding at a $400 million valuation led the South African media conglomerate Naspers, with participation from Lord David Alliance. To date, SimilarWeb has raised $65 million. TechCrunch has the story here.

Uber, the six-year-old, San Francisco-based ride-hailing service, is reportedly planning to raise close to $1 billion in new venture capital from investors, at a valuation of $60 billion to $70 billion. The round will make Uber the world’s most valuable private start-up. The New York Times has the story here.



Five-year-old, which added contextual capabilities to smartphones and raised more than $35 million from high-profile investors, is shutting down. has the story here.



DraftKings is spending $250,000 on a marketing campaign featuring the “King of Instagram,” Dan Bilzerian, who earned his nickname on Instagram after sharing hundreds of photos of his seemingly lavish lifestyle. Wrote Bilzerian under an Instagram photo last week: “So I guess Draft Kings figured they hadn’t spent enough money running commercials so they gave me 250k to spend on a 3 day Cabo trip hosted by a bunch of models, I usually spend 150k for 4-5 days, so it will be a bit of a challenge to spend it, but I’m sure I can find a way.” Business Insider has the story.

Fortune talks with Ted Ullyot, Facebook’s first general counsel and today Andreessen Horowitz policy chief, about startups, safety nets, and tech’s lack of love for Donald Trump.

We sat down last week with Keith Rabois of Khosla Ventures to talk IPOs, Theranos, and why it’s NBD that Square’s CEO is already running another public company. (Khosla Ventures owns roughly 17 percent of pre-IPO Square.)


Essential Reads

Lawyers are suing Apple over high customer iPhone bills they say are caused by an iOS 9 upgrade can result in phones automatically switching from Wi-Fi to more costly cellular data usage. The Recorder has more here.

Facebook’s “Internet for all” vision is reportedly a tough sell in India.

Are coding academies nonsense?



How friendships change over time.

The guy who signed Slick Rick and Jay Z is still killing it.

Three sumo wrestlers running a 40-yard dash.  (We do not know why.)

Retail Therapy

A longboard stroller (for European hipsters only).

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