StrictlyVC: January 6, 2016

Hi, good morning, everyone! Or good evening, depending on where you are.

Thanks so much to those of you who’ve reached out to help with interview ideas and suggestions for Davos. (This, from a colleague, should also come in handy.)

On a separate note, we’re putting together the finishing touches for our next StrictlyVC event, taking place late next month. More on the last soon!


Top News in the A.M.

Activist investor Starboard Value this morning called for changes to Yahoo‘s board and management. Otherwise, the hedge fund wrote in a letter to the board, it may try to run its own slate of directors.

Twitter says it’s readying itself for life after 140 characters.


The Landlord VC

You might be hearing talk of depressed valuations, but that message certainly isn’t reaching commercial real estate owners in the Bay Area. The median price per square foot to rent office space in the city has shot up 33.7 percent in just the last three months alone, says Loopnet, an online real estate resource. Over the last 12 months, San Francisco rents have soared 106 percent.

It’s easy to throw up one’s hands at that the situation. Aspect Ventures, a year-old, early-stage venture firm founded by longtime VCs Jennifer Fonstad and Theresia Gouw, is instead using the trend to its advantage by renting up to 20 desks in its own, 2,600-square-foot headquarters in San Francisco. It’s charging market rates, too.

It’s a smart move on a number of levels. First and most obviously, it helps Aspect defray its own costs, which can’t be inexpensive given current prices. According to real estate specialist Jones Lang LaSalle, average office rent in San Francisco has hit a whopping $70 per square foot.

Aspect, which closed its debut fund with $150 million last year, is also willing to rent the desks to both startups it has backed and those it might fund in the future, which allows it to see more young companies up close.

That’s harder to do than you might think.

More here.


New Fundings

Aver, a 5.5-year-old, Columbus, Oh.-based company whose data management platform promises to simplify the healthcare reimbursement process, has raised $13.6 million in funding led by Heritage Group, with participation from Cardinal Health, GE Ventures, Hearst Health Ventures, and affiliates ofNCT Ventures and StartUp Health.

Entac Medical, a 4.5-year-old, Memphis, Tn.-based predictive analytics company that’s developing noninvasive devices to predict and diagnose gastrointestinal and other medical conditions, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by Innova Memphis, with participation from Angel Syndicates Central, an angel syndicate located in Huntsville, Al., and the Angel Round Table of Johnson City, Tn.

Flatiron Health, a three-year-old, New York-based maker of oncology software, has raised $175 million in Series C funding led by Roche, with participation from Allen & Co., Baillie Gifford and Casdin Capital.

Kolibree, a two-year-old, Paris, France-based hardware startup focused on smart toothbrushes for kids, has raised $4 million in venture funding in a two-phased equity seed round that includes Cap Horn Invest, the Dental Investment Group for Health, Innovacom, SEB Alliance and SOS Ventures. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.

Mycity4kids, a five-year-old, Gurgaon, India-based online-content platform for children, has raised $3 million from SIDBI Venture Capital Limited and YourNest Angel Fund. The Business Standard has more here.

NextCure, a new, New Haven, Ct.-based biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of new immuno-oncology products, has raised $67 million in Series A funding from Canaan Partners, Lilly Asia Ventures, OrbiMed Advisors, Pfizer, Sofinnova Ventures, and Alexandria Venture Investments.

Petra Pharma, a new, New York City-based developer of small molecule inhibitors for the treatment of cancer and metabolic diseases, has raised $48 million in Series A funding from AbbVie, Alexandria Venture InvestmentsARCH Venture Partners, Eli Lilly and Company, Harris & Harris GroupInnovate NY Fund, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, The Partnership Fund for New York City, Pfizer Venture Investments, Watson Fund and WuXi PharmaTech. Xconomy has more here.

Toast, a four-year-old, Boston-based service that includes a point-of-sale tool for restaurants, has raised $30 million in a round led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with Google Ventures participating. TechCrunch has more here.

Tracxn, a 2.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based company that tracks and analyzes data about startups, has added entrepreneur Ratan Tata as an angel investor, though amount of funding it raised from him is undisclosed. TechCrunch has more here.

UIEvolution, a 15-year-old, Seattle, Wa.-based maker of connected device software platforms for the automotive, hotel and cruise industries, has raised $5 million in funding from The Mirai Creation Fund. More here.

Xfers, a nearly two-year-old, Singapore-based startup that wants to simplify bank transfers, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, Lazena Investment, Golden Gate Ventures500 Startups, GMO Venture Partners, Partech Ventures, BWB Ventures, and Convergence Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.



Another biotech files to go public. This time it’s Visterra, an 8.5-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based company that’s working to develop antibodies for serious cases of influenza and other infectious diseases that have been hard to treat with conventional small-molecule drugs. Its biggest shareholders include Polaris Partners, which owns 25 percent of the company, and Flagship Ventures, which owns 21.9 percent.



Cloudability, a four-year-old cloud service that helps companies manage and optimize their cloud spending, is acquiring four-year-old DataHero, a cloud service that helps non-technical users generate data visualization. DataHero had raised $10.25 million from investors. Cloudability has raised almost $16 million plus another $4 million in debt. TechCrunch has more here.

Ellipse Technologies, an Aliso Viejo, Ca.-based company that develops minimally invasive, remote controlled implants for limb lengthening and scoliosis treatment, is being acquired by the publicly traded spine-focused medical device company NuVasive. Ellipse had filed for an IPO last fall. It had raised around $32 million from investors, shows CrunchBase, including BioStar VenturesHBM Partners, Wexford Capital and the MedFocus Funds.

Oracle is acquiring AddThis, an 11-year-old, Vienna, Va.-based startup that offers personalization tools for publishers in efforts to boost marketing. The company had raised roughly $73 million over the years, shows CrunchBase. Its backers include New Enterprise Associates, Novak Biddle Venture Partners, and Institutional Venture Partners.



Speedinvest, a four-year-old, Austria-based venture firm focused largely on early-stage European startups, is looking to hire an associate. The job is in San Francisco. (You’d be largely helping its portfolio companies scale globally.)



U.K. technology companies raised a record $3.6 billion from VCs in 2015, according to data from research firm CB Insights and London & Partners. Business Insider has more here.


Essential Reads

WeChat, the popular Chinese messaging app, has launched an international calling service.

Automakers, not Silicon Valley, lead in driverless car patents.

How the daily fantasy sports industry turns fans into suckers.



Uber is making New York City cab drivers nicer.


Retail Therapy

Ah, yes, good, a new technology in chip eating.

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