StrictlyVC: November 2, 2015

It is November! Or Movember, for some of you. Hope it’s off to a great start.


Top News in the A.M.

The SEC on Friday approved rules that pave the way for Main Street investors to take equity stakes in startup businesses raising capital via crowdfunding. Much more here.


Thomas Korte of AngelPad on Its “Disproportionate Success” with European Founders

Soon, AngelPad, a five-year-old incubator that twice a year chooses roughly a dozen startups to coach over a three-month period, will host an invite-only “demo day” for a couple hundred angels and VCs in San Francisco.

Likely, the investors are already looking forward to it. AngelPad has funded 115 companies to date, including its current cohort, and half a dozen of those companies are now valued at more than $100 million. Among them: the in-app video startup Vungle, the business-to-business marketplace Kinnek, and the mobile application performance management company Crittercism. AngelPad has also seen at least one major exit in MoPub, a startup that helped mobile publishers manage their ad inventory. Twitter acquired the company for $350 million in stock in the fall of 2013. The value of those shares shot to $1 billion after Twitter went public later that year.

Recently, we grabbed some coffee with Thomas Korte, the former international product manager at Google who cofounded AngelPad with his wife, Carine Magescas, to get a sneak preview of its latest companies. (More on those to come.) We also talked about why he has seen “disproportional success with Euro founders.” More from that chat, edited for length, follows:

Back in September, Bill Gurley questioned the unit economics of several companies, including the delivery service Postmates, which is one of your early investments. His concern was that their margins are too low relative to the amounts of money they’ve raised from investors. What did you make of his comments?

I didn’t hear them, but I read about them, and I think he’s a very smart guy whose points were valid. I just know he got it completely wrong about Postmates’s unit economics. The other companies he mentioned at the time, including Instacart, are fundamentally different businesses. If you as a founder or investor think a company’s success is just about scale and grabbing market share, you’re living in a world of bedlam. I couldn’t agree more.

I do think you need to disregard business fundamentals sometimes, but not at a scale where you’re raising and spending hundreds of millions of dollars, because you reach a point where people start to ask questions and [investors grow weary].

Amazon is making a big push into on-demand delivery. How big a threat is it to Postmates?

More here.


New Fundings

AppDynamics, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose software monitors the performance of business applications, has raised a fresh $83.4 million in funding as part of a round that’s targeting up to $150 million, shows a new SEC filing. Just last month, the company announced that former Adobe digital chief David Wadhwani had joined as CEO. According to CrunchBase, the company has raised $206 million to date in debt and equity, excluding its newest funding. We have more for you here. (H/T: EquityZen.)

ClearSky Data, a 1.5-year-old, Boston-based company offering enterprise storage as a fully managed service, has raised $27 million in Series B funding led by Polaris Partners, with participation from Akamai Technologies and earlier backers General Catalyst Partners and Highland Capital Partners. The company has now raised $39 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Confer, a two-year-old, Boston-based cyberthreat prevention network, has raised $17 million in Series B funding led by Foundation Capital, with participation from earlier investors Matrix Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners. The company has now raised $25 million altogether. More here.

Crinetics Pharmaceuticals, a seven-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based therapeutics company focused on specialty endocrine disorders, has raised $40 million in Series A funding led by 5AM Ventures, Versant Ventures, and Vivo Capital. Xconomy has more here.

DraftKings, the three-year-old, Boston-based online daily fantasy sports startup, is reportedly raising another $200 million in investor funding. The round would bring the company’s total  funding to about $630 million and peg its valuation at $2 billion. Boston Business Journal has more here.

Handy, a three-year-old, New York-based platform that invites users to book household service providers, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by new investor Fidelity Management, with participation from earlier backers TPG Ventures, General Catalyst Partners, Highland Capital Partners and Revolution Growth. The round brings the total invested in Handy (formerly known as Handybook) to just under $111 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Huckletree, a 1.5-year-old, London-based community of coworking spaces, has raised £2.4 million ($3.7 million) in Series A funding, including from Felix Capital. More here.

Nestpick, a 1.5-year-old, Berlin-based company aiming to digitize the entire apartment rental process and eliminate in-person viewings, has raised $11 million in Series A funding from Mangrove Capital Partners, Enern and Rocket Internet. TechCrunch has more here.

Sighten, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based solar financing and supply chain software developer, has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding led by Obvious Ventures. More here.

Vinaya, a two-year-old, U.K.-based startup whose first product is a range of high-end jewelry wearables called Altrius, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Passion Capital, with participation from former Index partner Robin Klein, Playfair Capital, Bebo cofounder Michael Birch and several others. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds

Pitango Venture Capital — which has invested in companies such as AppsFlyer and Taboola — has announced the first clos of its new Pitango Growth Fund, a vehicle that’s targeting $250 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Startupbootcamp, which bills itself as Europe’s largest startup accelerator, has today announced the launch of its first accelerator programme in the U.S. It’s open for applications now and plans to host its first class in Miami, Fla.. The focus will be on so-called digital health. has more here.



Instructure, a seven-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based company that operates an online learning management system, announced terms for its IPO today. It plans to raise $75 million by offering 4.4 million shares at a price range of $16 to $18. Instructure has raised roughly $80 million from investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners and Insight Venture Partners. More here.



Big win alert: Bristol-Myers Squibb is acquiring the 10-year-old, Chapel Hill, N.C.-based cardiovascular disease drug developer Cardioxyl for up to $2 billion. According to CrunchBase, Cardioxyl had raised roughly $66 million over the years, including from New Enterprise Associates, OrbiMed, Aurora Funds and Osage University Partners. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News has more here.

The social media management company Sprinklr has acquired Booshaka, a three-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company aiming to give businesses a better understanding of their audience.The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Booshaka had raised $3 million from SV Angel, PivotNorth CapitalFF Angel, Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale and others, according to CrunchBase. Founder ad CEO Erik Ober tells TechCrunch that his entire 10-person Booshaka team will be joining Sprinklr, which was founded six years ago in New York and has raised roughly $123 million to date.



This weekend in San Francisco’s ritzy Sea Cliff neighborhood, StrictlyVC spied Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff dressed like a pirate and gleefully handing out full-size Hershey bars to trick-or-treaters while Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album blared from behind him. He stood underneath a canopy alongside several beefy guys who were also happily handing out chocolate bars and who we took to be bodyguards. Nice to see all of them out in front of Benioff’s home on a Halloween night.



F-Prime Capital (the venture outfit affiliated with Fidelity Investments) is looking to hire an associate for its tech investment team. The job is in Boston.

iNovia Capital is looking to hire a data-driven analyst for its early stage investment team. The job is in Waterloo, Ontario. To apply, write to



As private valuations increase, public market returns are shrinking, shows a new study.


Essential Reads

How Uber and its peers turned us into horrible bosses.

Amazon is giving up on Local, a daily deals coupon business that competed with services offered by Groupon.

Apple is testing a way to goose sales: By offering $50 off to shoppers who buy a new iPhone and Apple Watch together.

The war continues in the world of wearable fitness trackers. Jawbone — which makes fitness trackers, speakers and Bluetooth headsets — has filed a counterclaim against Fitbit in a patent infringement case brought by the latter company against its rival in September.

Can GM beat Google to the self-driving car?



Diagnostic exam: Do you have math anxiety?

Product reviews written by people going through breakups.

The joy of bats.

Driving mode. We’re all for it.


Retail Therapy

Someone who must be very brilliant has made a remote-controlled R2-D2 mini fridge.

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