StrictlyVC: December 2, 2015

Hey, everyone, great seeing some of you yesterday.

Quick mention: Starting tomorrow, we’ll be reporting from London for about a week. We haven’t tried this before and we’ll have a lot going on in the evenings, so you may wind up receiving SVC at funky times. We promise we’ll resume our normal schedule later next week when we’re back home in San Francisco.


Top News in the A.M.

Yahoo‘s board is reportedly planning a series of meetings this week to consider selling off the company’s core but flagging Internet businesses. The Wall Street Journal has the story here.


Sequoia’s Alfred Lin on Why Uber’s Valuation is Twice That of Airbnb

Yesterday, at the Post-Seed conference in San Francisco, Alfred Lin, the former COO and CFO of Zappos and now a Sequoia Capital partner, was asked a variety of on-stage questions about the current market.

Among them was whether Lin thinks it’s a good time to start a fund. “Probably not,” he said. “Valuations are high. But it doesn’t matter if you’re [thinking] long term,” he said. “If you’re building something enduring, you’re going to face lots of ups and downs anyway and you might as well start today.” As he noted, “It only gets more competitive in this world” of investing.

Lin was also asked about the changing landscape and talked about the slowdown he expects next year, prompted by rate changes that the Federal Reserve is expected to enact shortly. “With interest rates close to zero, you can’t make money in the bond market,” he said. “So the bond people now invest in stocks, and people who invest in stocks invest in private growth rounds . . . and VCs invest in seed deals.” That’ll all change when the Fed starts raising rates, which Lin anticipates it may do “maybe even once a quarter.” Once that happens, he said, “There will be less money chasing companies all the way down the spectrum.”

Lin was also asked to take a look back and address some of Sequoia’s most impactful decisions in recent years. He was asked, for example, why Sequoia invested in the accommodations marketplace Airbnb but passed on the ride-sharing company Uber.

More here.


New Fundings

Bluecore, a nearly three-year-old, New York-based data marketing platform that helps ecommerce brands send more emails at times designed to drive higher conversion, has raised $21 million in Series B funding led by Georgian Partners, with participation from earlier backers FirstMark Capital and Felicis Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Netsertive, a 6.5-year-old, Morrisville, N.C.-based digital marketing analytics company, has tacked $9 million on to what is now a $24 million Series C round of funding. The new injection was led by River Cities Capital Funds, with participation from Babson Capital Management and Netsertive’s existing investors. More here.

Neurona Therapeutics, a 4.5-year-old, South San Francisco, Ca.-based biotechnology company focused on the transplantation of selected neurons to treat intractable neurological diseases, has raised $23.5 million in Series A funding led by The Column Group. More here.

ORIC Pharmaceuticals, a 1.5-year-old, South San Francisco, Ca.-based biotechnology company focused on a treatment for prostate cancer that resists existing therapies, has raised $53 million in Series B funding from Column Group, EcoR1 Capital, Foresite Capital Management, Kravis Investment Partners, OrbiMed Advisors and Topspin Partners. Xconomy has more here.

Osaro, a months-old, San Francisco-based startup that’s developing advanced machine learning known as deep reinforcement learning, has raised $3.3 million in seed funding to take its technology to market. The money comes from Scott Banister, Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures, and Peter Thiel. TechCrunch has more here.

Stringr, a two-year-old, New York-based crowdsourced news startup that relies on professional videographers to submit footage that can then be sold to media organizations, has raised $1.5 million in funding. The capital comes fromMatter, the media-focused startup accelerator where Stringr was incubated;; and Signia Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Super, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based subscription-based service that provides homeowners with routine maintenance and repairs, has raised $3.6 million in seed funding from General Catalyst Partners, Lux Capital andFounders Collective. More here.

Velicept Therapeutics, a year-old, Malvern, Pa.-based clinical development company focused on treating overactive bladders, has raised $21 million in Series B funding led by CAM Capital and Longitude Capital. More here.


New Funds

Autodesk, whose 3D design software is used in manufacturing, architecture, construction and entertainment, is launching a $100 million venture fund as part of a new software platform that Autodesk is opening to developers. Its first focus will be manufacturing. The WSJ has more here.



According to data from Renaissance Capital, companies have raised less than $30 billion this year through IPOs on U.S. exchanges. That’s the lowest number since 2009, at the end of the Great Recession. More here.



Google just lost another long-time manager to Uber. Manik Gupta, who worked on Google Maps for seven years, has joined the ride-hailing juggernaut as the director of its maps product. Business Insider has the story here.

Good Eggs, an e-commerce website that delivers local and organic foods to customers, has hired a new CEO months after closing operations in several cities and laying off employees. Bentley Hall, the new executive, previously worked at Plum Organics and Clif Bar & Co.

Twitter cofounder Evan Williams sold 1.8 million shares of Twitter stock on Monday, netting about $47 million, according to a new SEC filing. As Business Insider notes, Williams has sold blocks of shares in the past, including almost 400,000 shares worth about $24 million back in April. But that sale was exercised as part of a preplanned schedule, according to a note in the accompanying SEC filing. Yesterday’s filing had no such note.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, made astunning announcement yesterday. As they welcomed their daughter, Max, into the world, they also announced plans to give away 99 percent of their Facebook shares — worth $45 billion right now — for charitable purposes.

Here’s how competitive hiring has grown: Facebook, Intuit, and others are now hiring college students first and figuring out jobs for these new recruits much later.



Stripe, the payments company, is looking to add to its business development department. The job is in San Francisco.



For Airbnb hosts in New York City,  typical annual income from the service is roughly $5,110, according to a trove of information that Airbnb released yesterday. Much more here.

Chief executives of the largest U.S. single-family offices earned a median $830,000 in 2014, according to new data from Fidelity Investments.


Essential Reads

New writedowns of Jawbone‘s stock by investors BlackRock and Firsthand Technology Value Fund show how far its valuation has fallen over the past 18 months, observes The Information. Preferred stock sold for $11.27 per share last year has fallen in value to $4.19 per share. (Subscription required.)

The anonymous Silicon Valley satire that has stumped tech world insiders.



Ten iconic brands that have disappeared.

The mysterious aging of astronauts.

A pediatrician of 30 years shows how to calm a crying newborn.


Retail Therapy

Caffeinated peanut butter. Because caffeine is delicious.

Filed Under:

Don’t Miss Out!

Sign up today to receive a free daily email with everything you need to start your day. Plus, keep track of the companies and personalities that will shape the industry in the months and years to come. Let StrictlyVC be your very own venture capital concierge.

StrictlyVC on Twitter