StrictlyVC: February 1, 2016

Hi, everyone, welcome back, and happy February.

We’re getting super excited to see many of you in a few weeks at our early evening event on Thursday, February 25th, at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco! Wish cofounder and CEO Peter Szulczewski will be there, as will GV CEO Bill Maris, VC and lecturer Heidi Roizen, and Autodesk CEO Carl Bass, among others. We’ll also have plenty of food and drink on hand.

Thanks very much to our generous sponsors Autodesk and Bolt for making the evening possible, including by providing us with an amazing venue!

Two-thirds of our tickets are now gone; if you’re planning to come, too, please do grab yours soon.

(P.S. No column today. We’re busy taking care of an eight-year-old ventriloquist who’s a little under the weather this morning.)


Top News in the A.M.

SFX Entertainment, a company created four years ago to capitalize on the popularity of dance music festivals, has just declared bankruptcy, roughly 2.5 years after going public.

Twitter shares are trading up this morning on speculation that investor Marc Andreessen could partner with private equity group Silver Lake to buy the company. More here.


New Fundings

Aprecia Pharmaceuticals, a 12-year-old, Langhorn, Pa.-based company that develops and manufactures precision drug delivery systems and products, including an epilepsy treatment that it developed through 3D printing technology, has raised $35 million in new funding led by Deerfield Management, with participation from JW Asset Management. Aprecia also converted $44 million in convertible debt to equity according to VentureWire. The company’s debtholders included Great American Insurance Co. and Scion Cos.

Atom Tickets, a 20-month-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based online ticketing app, is reportedly raising $50 million from three Hollywood studios: The Walt Disney Company, Fox, and Lionsgate. The company was founded by CEO Ameesh Paleja, who formerly ran the product and engineering division for the Amazon Appstore. The Hollywood Reporter has more here.

Flyp, a months-old, Boston-based mobile app that allows users to create a free U.S. phone number, has raised $5.8 million in seed funding, including from MAG Ventures, Aspect Ventures, Acorn Ventures, Structure Capital, and individual investors Jeffrey Parker and Russell Simmons. VentureWire says the round closed back in September. More here.

Kaizen, a 2.5-year-old, Tokyo- and San Francisco-based user interface marketplace and testing platform, has raised $8 million in Series B funding from YJ Capital, the venture arm of Yahoo Japan; NTT Docomo VenturesSaison Ventures KK; and COLOPL, along with earlier backers Eight Roads Ventures Japan, GREE Ventures, and GMO Venture Partners. The company has now raised $17.8 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

KFit, a nine-month-old, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia-based service that offers gym and healthcare services a la ClassPass in the U.S., has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by the Southeast Asian venture firm Venturra Capital. Other participants include SIGAxiata Digital Innovation Fund, and earlier backers Sequoia Capital India and 500 Startups. TechCrunch has more here.

KnowBe4, a five-year-old, Tampa Bay, Fla.-based software platform that teaches employees about security awareness, including through simulated phishing attacks, has raised $8 million in funding led by Elephant Partners, reports VentureWire. Elephant is the relatively new venture fund formed by Andy Hunt, co-founder of Warby Parker, and Jeremiah Daly, a former partner from Highland Capital Partners. More here.

Lexumo, a year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based cloud service that continuously checks open source code to be sure it has the latest security updates, has raised $4.89 million in seed funding led by Accomplice, .406 Ventures and Draper Laboratory. TechCrunch has more here.

Nabobil, a four-month-old, Norway-based peer-to-peer car rental marketplace, has raised $600,000 in seed funding from an undisclosed group of angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Screen, a two-year-old, New York-based company whose hardware, coupled with a mobile application, allows parents to manage their children’s screen time across devices, has raised $1.9 million in seed funding from Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Advancit Capital, Novel TMT Ventures, Box Group, Maveron Capital, as well as individual investor Peter Hershberger. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.


New Funds

Creandum, a 13-year-old, early-stage venture firm with offices in Stockholm and Palo Alto, Ca., has just closed its fourth fund with €180 million ($196.3 million). The capital will be used to target internet and software startups across Europe. The fund is about a quarter larger than the firm’s last vehicle, which closed in May 2013 with €135 million ($147 million) and was used to back more than 30 companies. TechCrunch has more here.

Lemnos Labs, an early-stage hardware-focused, San Francisco-based venture fund, is raising $50 million for its second fund, according to an SEC filing. It closed its debut fund with $20 million in 2014. One of Lemnos’s newer bets is Teforia, a  Mountain View, Ca.-based startup that says its machine makes the perfect cup of tea every time.

RPM Ventures, a 16-year-old, Ann Arbor, Mi.-based seed- and early-stage venture capital firm, is looking to raise up to $100 million for its newest fund, shows an SEC filing that states the first sale has yet to occur. Some of the firm’s investments include Janrain, a Portland, Ore.-based maker of customer identity management products, and Able, an Austin, Tex.-based collaborative lender that connects entrepreneurs with capital.

Sesame Street is getting into the investing biz, with plans to pour $1 million into a bunch of startups. Business Insider has more here.

Sozo Ventures, a 3.5-year-old, cross-border venture fund focused on helping U.S. tech companies break into overseas markets, including Japan, is looking to raise up to $200 million for its second fund, shows an SEC filing that states the first sale has yet to occur. The firm had raised at least $110 million for its debut fund. Among its investments is Pley, a San Jose, Ca., startup that rents Legos via monthly subscriptions (it then cleans the pieces between rentals) that raised $10 million last year led by Sozo.



Alere, a publicly traded maker of medical tests, has been acquired by the publicly traded baby formula maker Abbott for about $5.8 billion. Dealbook has more here.

Flyby Media, a five-year-old, New York-based augmented reality startup that develops mobile social applications, has been acquired by Apple for undisclosed terms. According to CrunchBase, Flyby had raised roughly $14 million from investors, including CNF Ventures and Chart Venture Partners. More here.

Sendd, a young, Mumbai, India-based on-demand shipping service provider that had raised roughly $500,000 in seed funding from Kae Capital, is being acquired for roughly $4.5 million by Craftsvilla, a Mumbai-based e-tailer that sells ethnic goods. Inc 42 has more here.

Sproutling, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose baby monitor system includes a rubber wearable sensor placed on the ankle, has been acquired by Mattel for undisclosed terms. The company had raised roughly $6.5 million, including from Lemnos Labs and Forerunner Ventures.

Tapad, a five-year-old, New York-based cross-device retargeting startup co-founded by two Norwegians, has just been acquired by the Norwegian carrier Telenor for $360 million “on a debt and cash-free basis.” Tapad had raised roughly $34 million from investors, including FirstMark Capital and Battery Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.



Bill Gates says he used to memorize his employees’ license plates to keep tabs on when they came and left during the early days of Microsoft.

Localytics, a mobile-app analytics company, has laid off about 37 people, or about 15 percent of its staff. The Boston Globe has more here.

Silicon Valley’s six favorite bankers, according to subscribers of The Information.

VarageSale, a mobile-first Craigslist competitor, has laid off 26 employees, or about one-third of its staff, reports Recode. StrictlyVC talked with the company last year, soon after it raised $34 million from Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners.



Next World Capital is hiring an associate or senior associate. The job is in San Francisco.


Essential Reads

There are lots of shady locksmiths using Google to pick people’s pockets, and no one is stopping them.

Amazon is getting into the business of original podcasts.

The collaboration curse.

Get ready to binge-fly, with unlimited flight subscriptions.


60 teens on what’s cool — and what’s not — right now.

The 100 jokes that shaped modern comedy.


Retail Therapy

A plot of land and architectural plans that will cost you $35 million.

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