StrictlyVC: November 10, 2010

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Busy morning; please forgive whatever we might have overlooked!


Top News in the A.M.

Whoa. Fidelity, the only fund manager to have a Snapchat investment, wrote down value of its stake by 25 percent in the third quarter, according to Morningstar. TechCrunch has just followed up with a story here.


Rich Miner on the Alphabet Factor and More

Yesterday, at a conference in San Francisco, we sat down with Rich Miner, a serial entrepreneur who may be best-known for cofounding a company called Android, which was acquired by Google a decade ago and then relegated to the dustbin of history. (Kidding!)

Four-and-a half years later, Miner joined Google Ventures and he continues to work from Cambridge, Ma., making investments on behalf of his new parent company, Alphabet.

We talked with Miner about how that reorganization is impacting Google Ventures, the team’s lack of gender diversity, and why Miner is expecting the stylus to become a bigger part of our lives. More from our chat, edited for length, follows.

To some Google Ventures, remains a bit of an enigma. For example, with offices in Cambridge, the Bay Area and London, do partners invest pretty exclusively in their own backyards?

I live in Boston, so I like to see all the Boston deal flow. But I also sit on the board of several companies in the Bay Area and if it’s something domain specific to mobile and doesn’t happen to be in Boston, I’m certainly going to look at that deal.

What’s happening with the London team? There was a lot of press about it being slow to make investments at first.

Google Ventures is very much not a strategic venture fund. We’re focused on returns. To that point, there was a time where there were investment dollars in Europe but [European startups] trailed behind the U.S. in terms of returns, and we’ve clearly started to see a shift. You now have enough of a history of successful startups, enough capital, and great hotbeds of innovation, including around Berlin, and London and Stockholm, that we think all the right components are in place.

They have separate capital, too, right? The U.S.-based team has $300 million to invest annually and Europe gets its own $125 million annually?

Correct, the European team has the same sort of structure with annual funds and right now, the European fund is a separate fund.
With Alphabet becoming a giant parent above Google, do those budgets change?

More here.


New Fundings

NightstaRx, a 1.5-year-old, U.K.-based gene therapy company focused on condition that causes blindness, has raised $35 million in Series B funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from included Syncona, an independent subsidiary of the Wellcome Trust. MedCity News has more here.

POP, a 1.5-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based mobile app that provides a crowd-solving platform for businesses, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led byNexus Venture Partners, with participation from Greylock Partners. More here.

QD Vision, an 11-year-old, Lexington, Ma.-based provider of quantum dot technologies for QLED displays, has raised $22 million in new funding led byTsing Capital and BASF Venture Capital, along with earlier investors. More here.

SkySpecs, a 3.5-year-old, Ann Arbor, Mi.-based company that makes technology for drone navigation, has raised $3 million in Series A funding, including from Amherst Fund, Huron River Ventures, Invest Michigan and Michigan Angel Fund. Crain’s Detroit Business has more here.

Transfix, a two-year-old, 26-person, New York-based transportation startup that matches customers needing interstate freight shipping with truck drivers needing to make deliveries, has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Canvas Ventures. Earlier investors Lerer Hippeau VenturesFounder Collective and Bowery Capital also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $14 million. (We think this one is interesting and wrote about it this morning.)

Varsity Tutors, an 8.5-year-old, St. Louis, Mo.-based live learning platform for private instructors in the U.S., has raised $50 million in Series B funding from Technology Crossover Ventures, musician Adam Levine, and education executive Stuart Udell, among others. More here.

Versa Networks, a three-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based company that makes networking software, has raised $43 million from investors, including Sequoia CapitalVerizon Ventures and MayfieldMore here.


New Funds

Cleveland, Ohio is getting a new venture capital fund: a new, $20 million for-profit pool called the JumpStart NEXT fund. LPs include the Greater Cleveland Partnership. More here.

IGNIA, a Mexico City, Mexico-based venture capital group, has raised $90 million for its second fund, a vehicle that was raised through Mexican publicly traded certificates known as CKDs and that includes Mexican pension funds as limited partners. More here.



Another software company has filed to go public: Atlassian, which initially filed its IPO paperwork confidentially back in August, has revealed plans to raise around $250 million. TechCrunch has more here.



Deliv is acquiring another same-day delivery service, Zipments. TechCrunch has more here.

Elastica has been acquired by Blue Coat Systems. VentureBeat has more here.



Nokia is looking to hire a venture fund operating partner. The job is in Mountain View, Ca.


Essential Reads

Apple’s biggest tablet yet is coming tomorrow.

Some leading on-demand start-ups, including Lyft and Instacart, have formed an alliance with labor groups to explore ways to better support contract workers without necessarily creating new laws.

The “Steve Jobs” movie is getting dumped from theaters owing to poor sales.



Cruz’s Crew: You play the game, but it’s the Cruz campaign that scores.


Retail Therapy


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