StrictlyVC: January 20, 2016

Hi, everyone! We arrived a little late in Davos last night, immediately had a couple of beers with our colleagues at TechCrunch, and forgot that you were waiting on the newsletter. We blame lack of sleep en route. Sorry to miss you yesterday; hope you have a wonderful Wednesday!

(P.S.: We’re here for a few more days so a reminder that the SVC may arrive at unexpected times.)


Top News in the A.M.

Global stocks are on the brink of a bear market. Bloomberg has more here.


Norwest Venture Partners Raises $1.2 Billion for the Third Time

Norwest Venture Partners, the 55-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca-based venture firm, has closed its third consecutive $1.2 billion fund. The group, which employs 20 investors altogether, raised the same amount in 2014, as well as in 2010.

If Norwest’s sole limited partner – the banking giant Wells Fargo – likes what it sees, it’s easy to see why.

According to one of Norwest’s three managing partners, Jeff Crowe, Norwest has seen 22 of its portfolio companies exit in a liquidity event over the past 18 months. Some of those that went public include the cyber protection company FireEye; the credit marketplace Lending Club; the health care equipment company Intersect ENT; and SolarEdge, which provides solar power harvesting and photovoltaic monitoring software.

Among those of its bets that have been acquired are the satellite imaging company Skybox, which sold to Google for $500 million last year; and the data discovery and sharing platform 1010data, which sold last August to Conde Nast parent Advance for $500 million.

Indeed, despite not having to actively fundraise, Norwest appears to be hustling right alongside other traditional venture firms that have gotten out of their offices in recent years to more aggressively pursue the companies they want to fund.

More here.


New Fundings

Adestra, a 10-year-old London-based marketing technology company,  has raised $7.2 million from the Business Growth Fund (BGF). TechCrunch has more here.

ALICE, a four-year-old, Seoul, Korea-based mobile platform for guests to engage with hotel services and staff, has raised $9.5 million in Series A funding led by Expedia, with participation from Laconia Ventures645 Ventures and the founders of NeueHouse.

Big Switch Networks, a five-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based open networking software startup, has raised $48.5 million in Series C funding from Morgenthaler Ventures, Silver Lake Waterman, Accton, CID Group, MSD Capital, and earlier backers Index Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Intel Capital and Redpoint Ventures. More here.

BlueVine, a 2.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based startup that provides credit lines to small businesses, has raised $40 million in funding led by Menlo Ventures, with participation from Rakuten, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and 83North. TechCrunch has more here.

BookDoc, a months-old, Kuala Lumpur-based startup that connects patients to a network of doctors in Southeast Asia (a la ZocDoc), has raised a seed round that includes a $2 million investment from Prince Abdul Qawi, a member of The House of Bolkiah, the ruling family of Brunei. TechCrunch has more here.

ChatWork, a four-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based business chat platform that’s taken off in Asia, has raised $12.5 million in Series B funding from JAFCO and other, unnamed investors to spur additional use in the U.S., Europe and Latin America.

Deezer, a nine-year-old,  Paris-based streaming audio service with 6.3 million users that cancelled an IPO last year, has raised another €100 million ($109 million) in funding led by Warner Music Group owner Access Industries, with participation from the French carrier Orange. TechCrunch has more here.

EiQ Networks, a 15-year-old, Boston-based company behind an online platform that provides security, risk, and compliance solutions to its customers, has raised $9.55 million in Series C funding led by Arrowroot Capital.

Grain, a 1.5-year-old, Singapore-based food tech startup with a  “full-stack” approach to food deliveries in the Southeast Asian city-state, has raised around $1.7 million in Series a funding led by NSI Ventures, with participation from Ivan Lee (who founded and sold Thai Express in Singapore ), 500 Startups, and Digital Media Partners.

Greatist, a 4.5-year-old, New York-based site promising “real facts and doable steps for your happiest life,” has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding led by Floodgate, with participation from earlier backers RiverPark VenturesVayner/RSE, and Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes, among others. The company has now raised $8 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Indus OS, a 1.5-year-old, Mumbai, India-based startup that has altered the Android operating system to make it more palatable to first-time users in rural India, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Omidyar Network. TechCrunch has more here.

Instart Logic, a five-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based application delivery platform, has raised $45 million in Series D funding led by Geodesic Capital. Other participants in this round include earlier backers Hermes Growth Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Four Rivers Group, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Tenaya Capital. Telstra Ventures, the venture arm of the Australian telecom firm, also announced a strategic investment in the company. TechCrunch has more here.

IronScales, a two-year-old, Ra’anana, Israel-based company whose automated security assessment and training platform is designed to provide corporate information security officers with the tools they need to stop phishing attempts, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding led by RDSeed, an investment arm of Rafael Development Corporation. More here.

JFrog, a nine-year-old, Netanya, Israel-based developer of open source software distribution tools, has raised $50 million in new funding from Scale Venture Partners, Sapphire Ventures, Battery Ventures, Vintage Investment Partners, Qumra Capital, and earlier backers Gemini Israel Ventures and VMware. TechCrunch has more here.

Kumu Networks, a 3.5-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based startup whose technology helps its customers make better use of the spectrum they already own, has raised $25 millionin funding led by Verizon and Deutsche Telekom, with participation from Cisco, Swisscom, and earlier backers New Enterprise Associates, Third Point Ventures, and Khosla Ventures. Recode has more here.

Meituan-Dianping, a 13-year-old, Shanghai,China- based group deals site, has closed a colossal $3.3 billion round at a valuation of $18 billion. The company claims that this is the largest single funding round ever raised by a venture-backed Internet startup in China. Backers include returning investor TencentDST Global, TBP Capital, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Baillie Gifford, CDB Kai Yuan Capital Management, Capital Today, and Temasek Holdings. TechCrunch has more here.

MVPindex, a three-year-old, Dallas, Tex.-based social media index and measurement platform for sports and entertainment, has raised $7 million in Series A funding, including from KB Partners. More here.

Neura, a two-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based platform that helps users personalize connected devices while guarding their data, has raised $11 million in Series A funding led by AXA Strategic Partners and Pitango Venture Capital, with participation from Liberty Israel Venture Fund and Lenovo Group. TechCrunch has more here.

Opentest, a five-month-old,  San Mateo, Ca.-based startup that provides remote user testing carried out over video by experienced product managers, UX designers and engineers, has raised an undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding from Bay Area investors. We talked with the company for TechCrunch.

Patreon, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based platform that enables fans and sponsors to support artists and creators, has raised $30 million in Series B funding led by Thrive Capital, with participation from Allen & Co., CRVIndex Ventures, Accomplice and Freestyle Capital. The company has now raised $47.1 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Puppet Labs, a 10-year-old Portland, Ore.-based company that develops IT automation software, has secured a $22 million credit facility from Silicon Valley Bank. TechCrunch has more here.

Second Home, a year-old,  East London-based office space for entrepreneurs and other creatives, has raised £7.5 million ($10.7 million) from a host of investors, including Yuri Milner, Tencent chairman Martin Lau, and Index Ventures. Business Insider has more here.

Send Anywhere, a four-year-old, Korea-based free peer-to-peer file sharing system, has raised $6 million in fresh funding from Rakuten Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Solovis, a 2.5-year-old, Birmingham, Al.-based software platform that allows investment managers to construct and visualize their investments, has raised $3.25 million in new funding led by Edison Partners, with participation from MissionOG, OCA Ventures, Timberline Venture Partners, Northwestern University and Jeremie Bacon.

Swiggy, a 1.5-year-old, Bangalore, India-based restaurant delivery startup that claims to be the largest in India, has raised $35 million in Series C funding from SAIF Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, Accel Partners, Harmony Partners, RB investments and an “undisclosed global investment entity.” TechCrunch has more here.

Telensa, a 10-year-old, London-based developer of “smart city” applications like LED-based street lighting, has raised $18 million in new equity and debt funding from Environmental Technologies Fund and Silicon Valley Bank. TechCrunch has more here.

Theracos, a 15-year-old, Marlborough, Ma.-based developer of drugs to treat Type II diabetes, has raised $25 million in new equity and debt funding from undisclosed backers. Fierce Biotech has more here.

Winnow, a two-year-old, London-based food waste smart meter maker, has raised $3.3 million in Series A funding from earlier investor Mustard Seed, Axel Johnson’s digital venture capital fund D:Ax, and numerous unnamed individual investors. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds

Cocoon Networks, a new group backed by China Equity Group and Hanxin Capital, is setting up a £500 million ($713 million) fund in London with plans to invest in U.K. and European startups in areas like fintech, the creative industries, and biotechnology. TechCrunch talked with Cocoon Networks John Zai for more details.

Danhua Ventures, a 2.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based early-stage venture firm, is targeting $200 million for its second fund, according to an SEC filing. Danhua’s cofounders are Stanford University Physics Professor Shoucheng Zhang and Stanford alum Anjia Andrew Gu, who worked previously at the IBM Almaden Research Center.

Norwest Venture Partners, the 55-year-old venture firm backed by Wells Fargo, has raised $1.2 billion for third time in the last five years. We sat down with the firm late last week to talk about it.

Publicis Groupe, the French advertising agency holding group, is setting aside €10 million ($10.9 million) for a new project called Publicis90 project that will see it invest between €10,000 and €500,000 in each of  90 startups. Business Insider has more here.

The German company Rocket Internet has raised a $420 million Internet-focused fund called Rocket Internet Capital Partners. Rocket Internet contributed $50 million to the vehicle. has more here.

SoftTech VC, the 11-year-old, San Francisco and Palo Alto, Ca.-based seed-stage venture firm, is targeting up to $130 million across two new funds, we reported yesterday morning. SoftTech also promoted two of its investors to partner: Stephanie Palmeri and Andy McLoughlin. Details here.

University College London said earlier this week that it plans to invest £50 million in what it hopes will be the next generation of university spin-out companies over the next five years. Its LPs are the European Investment Fund, one of the largest providers of venture investment in Europe, and Imperial Innovations, a public technology commercialization company. Business Insider has more here.



Practice Fusion, an electronic health records start-up, hired JPMorgan Chase last year to explore an initial public offering in 2017, according to Dealbook, whose sources say discussions are now in flux because of market volatility. More here.



Microsoft, which  acquired the creator of the game Minecraft in 2014, has now acquired MinecraftEdu, a modified version of Minecraft tailored for use in schools. The New York Times has more here.

Following its $500 million investment in transportation startup Lyft, General Motors has acquired select assets of Sidecar, a would-be Uber and Lyft competitor that went belly up in December. The price of the transaction wasn’t disclosed, although Bloomberg is reporting that it was less than the $39 million that Sidecar had raised from investors. More here.



Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has a new health and fitness platform startup in the works, he disclosed yesterday on Twitter. Costolo has also joined Index Ventures as a venture partner, he said. TechCrunch has more here.

Steve Murray, a 20-year veteran of Softbank, has joined the Washington, D.C.-based investment firm Revolution Growth as a partner.

Santi Subotovsky has been promoted to to general partner at Emergence Capital in San Mateo, Ca. Subotovsky had joined the firm in 2010; before that, he founded his own company, AXG Tecnonexo, a e-learning vendor in Latin America.



FundersClub is looking to hire a venture associate. The job is in San Francisco.


Essential Reads

Apple, Samsung and Microsoft are among a host of tech companies and carmakers implicated in a new report that sheds light on apparent child labor practices in the sourcing of minerals used to create batteries. TechCrunch has more here.



What happens inside the brain when we flip our proverbial lids.

Is it still possible to get away with a heist?

How “no worries” infected American English.


Retail Therapy

Going, going . . . a 1990 Riva Ferrari 32 Speedboat, one of just 30 built.

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