StrictlyVC: October 28, 2015

Hi, everyone! Apologies for the insanely late send; we’ve been on back-to-back calls since earlier this morning.

Hope you’re having a great Wednesday.:)


Top News in the A.M.

The tiny vials used by Theranos to collect finger-pricked blood has been declared by the FDA as an “uncleared medical device” that the company was shipping across state lines, reports the WSJ.

Apple turned in another blockbuster quarter yesterday, fueled by sales of the iPhone.

Twitter revealed yesterday that it’s user base still isn’t growing.


Klarna, a Swedish Unicorn, is Coming to the U.S. with Big Ambitions to Take on Its U.S. Peers

If you live in the U.S., you might not be terribly familiar with Klarna, a 10-year-old Stockholm-based company that provides payment services for online storefronts in a somewhat unique way — by “separating the buying from the selling,” as company cofounder and CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski explains it.

Put simply, you visit a site powered by Klarna, input only your email and zip code, and presto, your item is purchased. You then have 30 days to pay back Klarna, using whatever payment method you like. The big idea is to increase conversion rates, and whether or not they realize it, 35 million consumers have now used Klarna across the sites of 50,000 merchants, who understandably love the service. (The fewer keystrokes required, the higher the chance a purchase will be made, especially with a smartphone.)

Of course, what’s happening behind the scenes is a sophisticated fraud management operation, one that counts Sequoia’s Michael Moritz as a board member and which was most recently valued at $2.25 billion. Klarna plans to compete more aggressively in the U.S., too. Over the past year, it has set up offices in New York and Columbus, Ohio. Now it’s searching for space in San Francisco, where it eventually expects to employ up to 30 people to help it strike relationships with companies big and small.

Over coffee earlier this week, we talked with Siemiatkowski about Klarna’s roadmap and what he thinks of one competitor in particular: four-year-old Stripe, whose valuation is twice that of Klarna and which now has its sights on the Nordic countries where Klarna has become king. (Stripe also happens to be backed by Sequoia.) Our chat has been edited for length.

Much more here.


New Fundings

Alteryx, which offers an analytics tool aimed at business users, announced an $85 million round today led by Iconiq Capital and Insight Venture Partners, with participation from Meritech Capital Partners. The company has now raised $163 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

APL Software, a two-month-old, San Jose, Ca.-based parallel computing company, has raised $5.2 million in funding from Accomplice, Wing Venture Capital and company co-founder Cheng Wu, who was previously head of tech strategy at Ericcson. More here.

Commerce Signals, a three-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based data collaboration startup for serving retailers, mobile operators, banks and payment networks, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by OpenAir Equity PartnersMore here.

Desktop Metal, a months-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based 3D printing startup that works with metal, has raised $14 million in funding from New Enterprise Associates, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Lux Capital and Bolt. Desktop Metal was founded by Ric Fulop, the founder of A123 Systems and former general partner with North Bridge Venture Partners. Xconomy has more here.

Envelop VR, a year-old Bellevue, Wa.-based company creating enterprise and productivity software that allows businesses and consumers to create, work and play in a virtual reality environment, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by Madrona Venture Group. More here.

KeepTruckin, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose apps and hardware enable truck drivers to electronically log all of their miles and hours worked, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Index Ventures, with participation from Google Ventures, which had previously led the company’s $2.3 million seed round. More here.

Marqeta, a five-year-old, Emeryville, Ca.-based developer and provider of payment processing technologies, has raised $25 million in new funding from IA Capital, CommerzVentures, and entrepreneur Max Levchin. Earlier backers 83North, Granite Ventures, and Commerce Ventures also joined the round.TechCrunch has more here.

Nuritas, a 1.5-year-old, Dublin, Ireland-based therapeutics discovery startup that leverages artificial intelligence, has raised $3.2 million in new funding led by the Singapore-based firm New Protein Capital, with participation from entrepreneur-investor Ali Partovi.

Paddle8, a four-year-old, New York-based secondary marketplace for art and luxury collectibles, has raised $34 million in Series C funding from Mousse Partners, art dealer David Zwirner, Sony Music Entertainment Chairman Edgar Berger and Working Title Films Co-Chairman Eric Fellner. The company has now raised $51 million altogether, shows CrunchBase. More here.

Petnet, a three-year-old, L.A.-based company connected pet device company, has raised $4 million in funding from Black River Ventures, Aspiration Growth, iRobot Ventures and the Amazon Alexa Fund. More here.

SmartZyme, a two-year-old, New York and Israel-based company building a platform for protein design, has raised $4 million in funding led by OrbiMedMore here.

Spigit, a nine-year-old, San Francisco-based company focused on crowdsourcing software for enterprises, has raised $14 million in new funding led by earlier backer Investor Growth Capital. More here.

Taris Biomedical, a seven-year-old, Lexington, Ma.-based developer of treatments for urologic diseases, has raised $32 million in funding led by Flagship Ventures, with participation from RA Capital Management and earlier backer Polaris Venture Partners. More here.

Turnstone Biologics, a new Vancouver-based biotechnology company focused on developing treatments for cancer, has raised $11.3 million in Series A funding led by Versant Ventures. More here.

Zype, a two-year-old, New York-based cloud platform for video publishing and distribution, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding from Revel PartnersEntrepreneurs Investment Fund, and numerous individual investors including former Tumblr president John Maloney. TechCrunch has more here.



IBM announced this morning it’s acquiring The Weather Company, the parent company to the The Weather Channel, as well as the company’s B2B, mobile and web properties. TechCrunch has more here.


Essential Reads

You no longer have to dread the day that a game developer shuts off its servers and renders your favorite title unplayable. More from Engadget here.



How to detect lies with a storytelling technique.

A Japanese study claims to have found the brain-scan imprint of misogynistic views.

Computer scientists in Germany and California have found a way to manipulate videos to change a person’s facial expressions in real time.


Retail Therapy

Tom Ford’s Black Orchid. Manly cologne, in a manly bottle. For men.

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