StrictlyVC: November 11, 2015

Hi, everyone! Happy Wednesday.


Top News in the A.M.

Yesterday, a federal court judge ruled that tracking web histories can violate laws like the Wiretap Act, the Stored Communications Act, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Wired has more on what that decision means here.


Diamonds Born in California

A Santa Clara, Ca.-based company calledDiamond Foundry is this morning taking the wraps off what it’s been creating over the last three years: the ability to produce diamonds. In Santa Clara.

As the company explains it, it discovered a plasma that allows atoms to attach themselves to a thin slice of diamond that’s been extracted the old-fashioned way, by being plucked from the earth. One by one, it says, atoms stack atop the diamond’s crystal structure, growing layer by later into a “pure, cultured jewelry-grade diamond.”

We couldn’t catch CEO Martin Roscheisen on the phone yesterday to ask what, precisely, jewelry-grade diamonds mean. We’re guessing if they were colorless and had what gemologists refer to as “excellent clarity,” Diamond Foundry would say so in its marketing materials. (It does not.)

Either way, the gems seem to be good enough for a list of prominent list of investors who’ve plugged some of their capital into the company. Diamond Foundry’s backers include entrepreneurs Mark and Alison Pincus; serial entrepreneur Ev Williams; early Facebook COO Owen Van Natta; and actor Leo DiCaprio, who famously played a mercenary gem smuggler in the 2006 film “Blood Diamond.”

More here


New Funds

Amplyx Pharmaceuticals, a nine-year-old, San Diego-based preclinical stage company that’s developing a new anti-fungal compound for treating life-threatening fungal infections, has raised $40.5 million in Series B financing led by RiverVest Venture Partners, with participation from New Enterprise Associates, BioMed Ventures, and individual investors. Xconomy has more here.

Bango, a 16-year-old, London-based mobile payments company that allows app stores, operators and publishers to collect payments over the mobile web, has raised £11 million ($17 million) in new funding at a post-money valuation of roughly $90 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Careem, a two-year-old, Dubai-based app-based car service launched by former McKinsey & Co. consultants Magnus Olsson and Mudassir Sheikha, has raised $60 million in Series C funding led by the private equity firm Abraaj Group. Other participants in the round include Al Tayyar, STC VenturesBeco Capital, Impulse (a subsidiary of Kuwait Investment Authority), Lumia Capital and Wamda Capital. DealStreetAsia has more here.

CircleUp, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based crowdfunding platform that consumer retail businesses like food companies use to raise money from outside investors, has raised $30 million in Series C funding led by Collaborative Fund. Other investors include Capital One co-founder Nigel Morris and the former CEOs and presidents of Goldman Sachs, Thomson Reuters and the Stanford Endowment. Previous backers Union Square Ventures, Canaan Partners, Maveron and Rose Park Advisors also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.

EventBoard, a three-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based developer of cloud-based meeting tools and analytics, has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding led by Greycroft Partners, with participation from Origin Ventures and its seed round investor, Zetta Venture Partners. Vator has more here.

MiRagen Therapeutics, an eight-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based biopharmaceutical company that’s developing microRNA-based therapeutics, has raised $41 million in Series C funding co-led by MRL Ventures, a venture fund of Merck, and JAFCO. Other participants include new investors Brace Pharma Capital and MP Healthcare Venture Management, along with earlier backers Atlas Venture, Boulder Ventures, Remeditex Ventures, Amgen Ventures and others. More here.

PeerSpace, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that helps companies and individuals find short-term space, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Foundation Capital, with participation from earlier backer Structure Capital. The company had earlier raised $1.5 million in seed funding and another $800,000 in debt financing. TechCrunch has more here.

Perfecto Mobile, a nine-year-old, Woburn, Ma.-based company that helps businesses troubleshoot an app before it gets in the hands of users, has raised $35 million in new funding led by Technology Crossover Ventures, with participation from previous investors FTV Capital, Carmel VenturesGlobespan Capital Partners, and Vertex Ventures. Perfecto has now raised $92.8 million altogether. Xconomy has more here.

Swrve, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based mobile engagement platform, has raised $30 million funding in funding led by Evolution Media Partners, TPG Growth, Participant Media, and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund. Earlier backers Acero Capital and Atlantic Bridge also joined the round. Fortune has more here.

Tenable Network Security, a 13-year-old, Columbia, Md.-based company that develops unified security monitoring software to secure enterprise networks, has raised a whopping $250 million in venture funding led by Insight Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backer Accel Partners. Reuters has more here.

Udacity, the nearly four-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based online university co-founded by Stanford University Research Professor Sebastian Thrun, has raised $105 million at a valuation of $1 billion led by the German media conglomerate Bertlesmann. Scotland’s Baillie Gifford, Emerson Collective and Google Ventures also joined the round, as did earlier backers Andreessen Horowitz, Charles River Ventures and Drive Capital. The WSJ has more here.

VideoAmp, a 1.5-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based screen optimization platform for the TV and video ecosystem, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by RTL Group. The company has now raised $17.2 million altogether. More here.

Worldsensing, a 7.5-year-old, Barcelona, Spain-based company that develops machine-to-machine and Internet of Things technologies, has raised an undisclosed amount of  Series B funding from Cisco Investments, Mitsui & Co., Kibo Ventures, Fundación Jose Manuel Entrecanales and Endeavor Catalyst. Earlier backers, including Finaves (the investment platform of IESE Business School), also joined the round. More here.


New Funds

500 Startups, the five-year-old, San Francisco-based investing and conference juggernaut, is raising yet another new fund: This time, it’s targeting $15 million to invest in seed-stage Nordic startups. Fortune has more here.

Collaborative Fund, the five-year-old, New York-based venture firm, has closed its third fund with $70 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Open Ocean, a Helsinki-based venture firm that has backed such startups as Truecaller and EyeEm, has raised a new, €100 million ($107 million) fund and also recruited entrepreneur and investor Richard Muirhead as a general partner. TechCrunch has more here.



Google has acquired Fly Labs, a four-year-old, New York-based company that specializes in user-friendly photo and video editing software. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The company had raised $750,000 in a convertible note last spring, shows CrunchBase. InformationWeek has more here.



Facebook board member Marc Andreessen has now sold almost half his personal holdings in the giant social network. The sales were reportedly part of a prearranged trading plan but seem to suggest that Facebook’s share price is also pretty rich at the moment. As Jan Dawson, chief analyst with Jackdaw Research, tells USA Today: “The fact is, Facebook stock is up over 40 percent in the past year and up even more significantly since the (IPO), so Andreessen has had a great return on his investment here already.”

Longtime investor Pierre Lamond — who spent much of his career with Sequoia Capital, and later moved to Khosla Ventures before joining Formation 8 in an advisory role –has joined Eclipse Ventures as a full-time general partner,reports Fortune. Eclipse was formerly called the F8 Hardware Fund.

Ambar Bhattacharyya, formerly a vice president in Bessemer Venture Partners’s Menlo Park, Ca. office, has joined Maverick Capital, a Dallas-based money management firm.

HotelTonight CEO Sam Shank said yesterday that his five-year-old, San Francisco-based hotel booking startup has laid off 37 employees, or 20 percent of its total workforce. TechCrunch has more here.

Megan Quinn, a former product manager at both Google and Square who later spent time as an investor with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, has joined Spark Capital as a general partner, working with its growth stage fund team. TechCrunch has more here.

Investor Chamath Palihapitiya is trying to disrupt a lot of businesses, and the newest is the carrier business. More here.

Redpoint eventures, a joint effort between Redpoint Ventures and, has added Romero Rodrigues, one of Brazil’s best-known Internet entrepreneurs, as a full-time general partner. Rodrigues co-founded the online price comparison site Buscapé, which the South African conglomerate Naspers acquired in 2009 for $342 million. Dealbook has more here.


Essential Reads

About one year after selling Motorola, executives inside Google are once again discussing whether to build an Android phone from scratch, reports The Information.

Yesterday, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman sent cease-and-desist notices to FanDuel and DraftKings — the two giants in the growing daily fantasy sports industry — telling the companies that they are no longer allowed to accept bets, or do anything else, in New York. New York Magazine has more here.

And yet more bad news for Theranos: Safeway, which reportedly spent $350 million to build clinics in more than 800 of its supermarkets to offer blood tests by startup Theranos, is now negotiating with Theranos to officially dissolve that partnership partnership after Theranos missed deadlines for its blood-testing rollout and several Safeway executives questioned the accuracy of results Theranos gave to Safeway employees. The WSJ has the story here.



Twenty-one lifestyle changes to make if you want to save more money.

For sale: man buns.


Retail Therapy

The ostensible “wagyu” of iced coffee (if you’re into that sort of thing).

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