StrictlyVC: December 4, 2015

Hello and happy Friday, everyone! Hope you have a terrific weekend, and we’ll see you back here on Monday.


Top News in the A.M.

The Federal Open Market Committee is almost universally expected to raise rates slightly at its December 15th meeting. What this means for the markets isn’t clear, however, reports Dealbook.


The Obstacle to Becoming a VC is Financial, Not Gender, Inequality

Start you own venture firm. That’s the advicethat one of the industry’s first women VCs, Kathryn Gould, gave to other women, and it came to mind yesterday as I watched an interview given to journalist Emily Chang this week by longtime Sequoia Capital investor Michael Moritz.

As you’ve likely heard by now, Chang asked Moritz about Sequoia’s responsibility to hire women, as Sequoia has no female investment partners on its U.S. investment team.

Adjusting his collar uncomfortably, Moritz said he’d like to think that the firm is “blind to somebody’s sex, to their religion, to their background.” He added that there is, in his view, a pipeline problem to explain the dearth of women at Sequoia. “I think the issue begins in our high schools, and where women particularly in America and also in Europe, tend to elect not to study the sciences when they’re 11 or 12. So suddenly the hiring pool is much smaller.”

Asked if Sequoia might not be looking hard enough, Moritz said that Sequoia “looks very hard . . . We just hired a young woman from Stanford who is every bit as good as her peers and if there are more like her, we’ll hire them. What we’re not prepared to do is to lower our standards.”

Numerous outlets have since suggested that Moritz put his foot in his mouth by associating women with low standards. Facebook commenters were no more generous, with some smartly pointing out that Moritz himself was a history major.

I’m not going to defend Moritz. But focusing anger at him, or at Andreessen Horowitz, or at Benchmark, or Accel Partners (none of which employ any female general partners, save for Accel’s Sonali De Rycker in London), is somewhat misguided.

More here.


New Fundings

Hollar, a months-old, L.A.-based online destination for gifts and goods that start at $2, has raised $12 million in Series A funding just after raising $5.5 million in seed funding. Its investors include Index Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Forerunner Ventures and BAM Ventures, the investment firm of Honest Company cofounder Brian Lee. L.A. Business Journal has more here.

Reverb, a three-year-old, Chicago-based online marketplace for musical instruments and equipment, has raised $25 million in funding led by Summit Partners. Billboard has more here.

SeamlessDocs, a months-old, New York-based company whose technology allows users to convert any PDF into a fillable, mobile friendly cloud document that can be completed from any device, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by the Govtech Fund. TechCrunch has more here.

Teforia, a 1.5-year-old Mountain View, Ca.-based startup that says its machine makes the perfect cup of tea every time, has raised $5.1 million in funding led by Upfront Ventures, with participation from Lemnos Labs, PreAngel and InnoSpring, among others. TechCrunch has more here.

Top Flight Technologies, a 1.5-year-old, Malden, Ma.-based commercial drone developer, has raised $1.75 million in seed funding led by ff Venture Capital, with participation from angel investors, including Joi Ito. More here.

Vanitee, a six-month-old Singapore-based online marketplace that connects beauty practitioners with customers, has raised $3.5 million, including from the Southeast Asia-based beauty seller Luxasia and Robert Yap, head of the logistics firm YCH. Garena — a billion dollar tech firm covering payments, games and e-commerce — also partook in Vanitee’s round. TechCrunch has more here.

Younity, a five-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based provider of cloud storage services, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Marker LLC. Boulder County Business has more here.



Today Nokia completed its sale of its mapping division Here to Audi, BMW Group and Daimler AG for €2.55 billion ($2.8 billion). The deal was originally announced in August. TechCrunch has more here.

Welltok, a Denver-based health optimization platform, has acquired Silverlink Communications, a Burlington, Ma.-based healthcare communications company for undisclosed terms. To help fund the deal, Welltok has raised $45 million in funding from new investors Georgian Partners, EDBI, Flare Capital and some of its earlier investors. Welltok has now raised around $130 million altogether, according to CrunchBase. Meanwhile, Silverlink had raised $12.6 million, shows CrunchBase. Its backers include  HLM Venture Partners and Sigma PartnersMore here.



Mark Zuckberg took to the platform yesterday to respond to growing criticisms concerning how he plans to give his money away.

Pandora’s recent $75 million acquisition of bankrupt music streaming service Rdio means major layoffs for Rdio employees, reports VentureBeat. The company is reportedly axing 123 poeple in San Francisco and it only employed between 140 and 180, say its sources. More here.


Essential Reads

Stanford to MBAs: Don’t start up until you graduate.

Angry French Uber drivers have created their own Uber.

How Airbnb’s worst problems are confirmed by its own data.



The world’s fastest runner, in super slow motion.


Retail Therapy

Eleven drones for all types of pilots.

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