StrictlyVC: January 15, 2016

Hi, everyone!

Great news: When we announced our upcoming event last Friday, we mentioned that we might have one more surprise, and now we can announce it. In addition to our all-star speaker line-up of DFJ’s Heidi Roizen, GV CEO Bill Maris, and Autodesk CEO Carl Bass, we’re excited to let you know that Peter Szulczewski, cofounder and CEO of Wish, will be appearing in conversation with early investor Hans Tung of GGV Capital. (As many of you will know, Wish is one of the most interesting e-commerce startups out there right now. It’s also a nominee for the year’s best mobile app at next month’s “Crunchies” awards show.)

It’s going to be a pretty terrific program, so don’t miss it.

Much thanks to AutoDesk for hosting us and to our friends at Bolt for their ongoing support. If you’re also interested in partnering with us on this next INSIDER gathering as a sponsor, please let us know.

Have a great Friday, everyone. We aren’t publishing Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but we’ll write you from Davos sometime on Tuesday.


Top News in the A.M.

Stocks fell around the world this morning, with U.S. equities headed for their lowest point since August.


In Q4, Investors Turned to Seed-Stage Startups

Call it the Fidelity effect.

According to a new MoneyTree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, there appears to have been a chill in late-stage funding in the fourth quarter of last year, while investors continued stuffing money into seed- and early-stage investments.

According to PWC and NVCA data, investors poured $375 million in 52 seed deals in the fourth quarter, and the average seed deal rose from $4.1 million in the third quarter to $7.2 million in the fourth (which is a lot of money for a seed-stage company!).

Early-stage deals also rose slightly, garnering an average of $10 million per deal, up from $9 million in the third quarter.

For all of 2015, the average amount invested for both seed and early stage deals was up 23 percent higher than it was in 2014.

Expansion-stage investments — likely impacted by the very public markdowns made by investors like Fidelity — were meanwhile down 53 percent in dollars and 10 percent in number of deals from the previous quarter, with $3 billion going into 247 deals.

More here.


New Fundings

20/20 Gene Systems, a 15-year-old Rockville, Md.-based cancer diagnostics startup, has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding from Ping An Ventures, family offices, and individual investors. FinSMEs has more here.

Appthority, a 4.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that makes mobile application risk management software, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Blue Coat Systems and Knollwood Investment Advisory, with participation from earlier backers U.S. Venture Partners and VenrockMore here.

CourseHorse, a 4.5-year-old, New York-based online platform for finding and enrolling in classes, has raised $4 million in funding from Red Ventures, with participation from earlier investors, including Learn Capital and L.A-based angel Paige Craig. More here.

Estimote, a three-year-old, New York-based beacon company whose small, wireless sensors and accompanying software provide indoor location technology to large retailers, has raised $10.7 million in Series A funding led by Javelin Venture Partners, with participation from new investors Homebrew, Box Group, Digital Garage, Commerce Ventures, and numerous angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Euclid Analytics, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based location analytics company that helps companies track customer behavior in their retail stores, has raised $20 million in Series C funding led by media conglomerate Cox Enterprises. Groupe Arnault and Gold Sky Capital also participated, along with earlier investors Benchmark, New Enterprise Associates, and Harrison Metal. The comapany has so far raised $44 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Foursquare, the six-year-old, New York-based geo-technology platform, has raised $45 million in Series E funding led by Union Square Ventures, with Morgan Stanley and earlier backers including DFJ Growth, Andreessen Horowitz and Spark Capital participating. In related, very big news, co-founder and CEO Dennis Crowley has transitioned to executive chairman, while COO Jeff Glueck has been appointed Foursquare’s new CEO. TechCrunch looks at what’s going on here.

Inturn, a 2.5-year-old New York-based platform that helps brands and retailers sell and purchase off-price inventory, has raised $9.7 million in Series A funding led by Novel TMT Ventures, with participation from Benvolio Group, ShucoBam Ventures and earlier investors Forerunner Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures and T5 Capital.

KeyMe, a three-year-old, New York-based startup that enables users to store, share and duplicate their physical keys based on a digital scan that’s securely stored in the cloud, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Comcast Ventures, with additional investment from Battery Ventures, White Star Capital, 7-Ventures (the venture arm of 7-Eleven), and individual investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Limelight Platform, a 1.5-year-old, Toronto, Canada-based marketing automation startup, has raised $3.1 million in seed funding led by Rowanwood Ventures, with participation from Sandhill Angels, Hyde Park Ventures and Acceleprise Ventures, among others. More here.

Mubi, a nine-year-old, London-based alternative movie streaming service, has raised $50 million in funding from Huanxi Media, Mubi’s partner in China. TechCrunch has more here.

PlaceIQ, a five-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based company that makes hyper-local ad targeting software, has raised $25 million in Series D funding led by Harmony Partners, with participation from earlier backers Iris Capital, IA Venture Partners, U.S. Venture Partners and Valhalla Partners.

PolicyGenius, a 1.5-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based online insurance broker, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Revolution Ventures, with participation from earlier backers firm  Karlin Ventures, Susa Ventures, AXA Strategic Ventures, Transamerica Ventures and MassMutual Ventures. The company had raised $5.3 million in Series A funding just last June. TechCrunch has more here.

RedDoorz, a year-old, Singapore-based platform that offers budget accommodations across Southeast Asia, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding from undisclosed investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Taulia, a 6.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that makes cloud-based invoice, payment and discount management software for large buying organizations, has raised $46 million in Series E funding led by Zouk Capital. Earlier backers DAG Ventures, Harbor Pacific Capital, Matrix PartnersQuestMark Partners and Trinity Ventures also joined the round.

VeloCloud Networks, a three-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based cloud networking services company, has raised $27 million in Series C funding led by March Capital Partners and Cisco Systems, with participation from earlier backers, including Venrock and New Enterprise Associates. More here.

Unmute, a year-old, L.A.-based open platform where users can host and share interactive phone calls, has raised $2.2 million in seed funding led by Greycroft Partners, with participation from Comcast Ventures, Crosscut VenturesBetaworks, Greylock Partners, former NBA commissioner David Stern and Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman. More here.



A friendly reminder from Renaissance Capital: No IPOs have priced so far this year.



Today IBM purchased IRIS Analytics, an eight-year-old, Urbar, Germany-based company that helps banks detect fraudulent use of credit cards using machine intelligence. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.



Elon Musk faces a fresh challenge from a newcomer with a reusable spacecraft after NASA split a cargo pact valued at as much as $14 billion between his company SpaceX, Orbital ATK, and lesser-known Sierra Nevada Corp. Bloomberg has the story here.

Outspoken VC Chamath Palihapitiya thinks it was a mistake for Twitter to re-install Jack Dorsey as CEO. Here’s why.

Zoosk, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based dating startup, is laying off 40 people, a huge chunk of its staff. (You might recall that it staged a sizable layoff last year, too.) TechCrunch has more here.



BBG Ventures is looking to hire an associate. The job is in New York.

Norwest Venture Partners is looking to add a partner to both its early-stage consumer and early-stage enterprise investing teams. The jobs are in San Francisco and Menlo Park, Ca. We don’t have an email for you (yet), so work those networks!


Essential Reads

The government wants Silicon Valley to build terrorist-spotting algorithms. But is it possible?

The California Public Utilities Commission agreed yesterday with a judge’s recommendation to fine Uber $7.6 million for failing to meet data reporting requirements in 2014. The L.A. Times has more here.



Twelve science-backed tricks for appearing smarter than you are.

Sean Penn’s one “terrible regret” about his conversation with El Chapo.


Retail Therapy

A standing desk, for just $25.

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