• StrictlyVC: November 24, 2015

    Happy Tuesday, everyone! We have family coming and food to prepare, so we’re shutting down the works the rest of this week. U.S. readers, we hope your holiday break is relaxing. Everyone else, have a terrific week. We’ll see you back here Monday.:)


    Top News in the A.M.

    Just eight months after raising $40 million from venture capitalists, the food delivery startup DoorDash is reportedly in talks to raise a new round at a $1 billion valuation, led by earlier investor Sequoia Capital. Bloomberg has more here.

    Blue Origin, the private space firm owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, has just dropped a huge, unexpected gauntlet in the race to develop a reusable rocket.


    A New Microbiome Syndicate Launches on AngelList

    Ubiome is an unusual startup. The three-year-old sequences the collected microbes in the human body and sells $89 kits to those curious to understand their own microbiome better.

    Now uBiome founders and academics Jessica Richman and Zachary Apte — who’ve raised $6.5 million from investors like Andreessen Horowitz for the San Francisco company — are taking an even more unusual step. They’re launching an AngelList Syndicate to fund other microbiome startups.

    It’s not an entirely novel concept. There are plenty of corporations that create funds expressly to get a look at startups whose work might be of strategic interest to them. There are also a sprinkling of founders who are running early-stage startups and forming Syndicates to make startup bets of their own, including Joshua Reeves of Gusto, a four-year-old payroll startup that was formerly known as ZenPayroll.

    Still, investing in young startups that could eventually compete with your own young startup isn’t something one sees every day; we talked earlier with Richman to learn more about her Microbiome Fund — and why she and Apte decided to do it.

    Understanding of the role played by the microbiome in many health conditions is relatively recent and you have a very young company,  Why shift some of your focus to investing in other startups?

    We’ve heard from a lot investors, including angels, who’ve wondered what other companies they should invest in other than us. We’re also heard a lot of interest from [microbiome] companies that are curious about investors. We want to help, with what we think is the first microbiome fund ever.

    Are uBiome’s investors at all concerned that this Syndicate might become a distraction for you both?

    More here.


    New Fundings

    Deliveroo, a three-year-old, London-based delivery startup that services restaurants that don’t traditionally offer take-out, has raised a $100 million in Series D funding led by DST Global and Greenoaks Capital, with participation from earlier backers Accel Partners, Hummingbird Ventures and Index Ventures. The company has now raised roughly $200 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

    Fortscale Security, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based cyber security software company, has raised $6 million in new funding from CME Ventures and UST Global. Crain’s Chicago Business has more here.

    Glovo, an 11-month-old, Barcelona, Spain-based delivery service (it’s akin to Postmates), has raised €2 million ($2.1 million) in funding from Cube Investments and a long list of individual investors. TechCrunch has more here.

    Harvest Power, a seven-year-old, Waltham, Ma.-based company that uses organic waste to generate power and produce compost, has raised $20 million in funding led by True North Venture Partners, with participation fromGeneration Investment Management and Industry Ventures. More here.

    Homie, a new, Salt Lake City-based peer-to-peer marketplace for home buyers, builders and sellers, has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding led by Peak Ventures. More here.

    MiaoPai, a two-year-old, Beijing, China-based short-video mobile app maker, has raised $200 million in Series D funding led by Weibo, with participation from Sequoia Capital, the South Korean entertainment firm YG Entertainment and others, according to China Money Network. The round follows a $50 million Series C round closed in September 2014. That round was reportedly led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, with participation from Sina Corp., Redpoint Ventures and StarVC.

    ObsEva, a three-year-old, Geneva, Switerland based biopharmaceutical startup that’s developing treatments for preterm labor and women’s reproductive health, has raised 60 million Swiss francs ($58.9 million) in Series B funding, including from HBM Healthcare Investments, New Enterprise AssociatesOrbiMed Advisors and Rock Springs Capital. Previous backers MS Ventures, Novo Ventures, Sofinnova Partners and Sofinnova Ventures also joined the round. More here.

    Placester, a five-year-old, Boston-based service that helps real estate agents and brokers market themselves and their services more easily, has raised $27 million in Series C funding from New Enterprise Associates and Romulus Capital, both of which had backed the company previously. Placester has now raised $50 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

    RentoMojo, a year-old, Mumbai, India-based online home appliances and furniture rental company, has raised nearly $2 million in funding from IDG Ventures India and Accel Partners. The Economic Times has more here.

    Shiftgig, a three-year-old, Chicago-based mobile marketplace that connects employers with locally available and vetted hourly workers, has raised $22 million in Series B funding led by Renren. Additional investors included Chicago Ventures, DRW Venture Capital, GGV Capital, Garland Capital Group, KGC Capital, Pritzker Group, Wicklow Capital and individuals. The company has now raised $35 milion altogether. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.



    KidoZen, a three-year-old, Miami, Fla.-based platform that powers enterprise mobile apps, has been acquired for undisclosed terms by Mad Mobile, a five-year-old Tampa, Fla.-based mobile platform company. Mad Mobile hasn’t publicly disclosed any outside funding. KidoZen had raised $5.5 million in equity and debt, including from Third Point Ventures.

    Parklet, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based employee onboarding software company, has been acquired by the three-year-od, New York-based recruiting platform Greenhouse Software for undisclosed terms. Greenhouse Software has raised around $60 million in funding, including from Thrive CapitalBenchmark, and Resolute Ventures. Parklet had raised $1.5 million in seed funding FundersClubGreylock Partners and Storm Ventures.



    Investor Marc Andreessen is doing his best to dislodge Donald Trump as a Republican frontrunner.

    Benchmark’s Bill Gurley talks with M.I.T. Technology Review, calling Y Combinator “an innovation,” adding: “Venture is a business that is not really prone to systemization. [Benchmark co-founder] Bob Kagle used to call it a shoe-leather business. So anyone who builds a new type of system is interesting. But we do have a fundamental belief that company building is an art, not a science.”

    Jordan Kong, a former investment banking analyst who spent the last couple of years at Institutional Venture Partners as an investor, has joined Expa, the startup studio of entrepreneur Garrett Camp, as an entrepreneur.

    According to Fortune’s Dan Primack, investor Joe Lonsdale has an interesting proposition for his “friends and allies.” His new firm, Eight Partners, which expects to close on $400 million next year, will funnel 10 percent of the fund’s carried interest to those who provide its portfolio companies with meaningful help. More, if an advisor donates his or her upside to a nonprofit, Lonsdale will match the donation.



    Nike is looking to hire a senior director of corporate and business development. The job is in Beaverton, Ore.


    Essential Reads

    Disruption theory is in danger of becoming a victim of its own success, argues its author, Clayton Christensen.

    Inside Snapchat’s newest feature, Story Explorer.

    Apple Pay will reportedly hit China in February.



    How envy changes as you grow older.

    The aftermath of a snowstorm, as seen from a satellite.

    Fun at the New York Times.


    Retail Therapy

    An absurd, effective automatic beer chiller. (Ah, science in the service of alcoholism.)

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