StrictlyVC: February 2, 2016

Hi, everyone, happy Tuesday!

Very big thanks to the generous folks at Ludlow Ventures, which just signed up to help sponsor our upcoming event. This is the second time they’re helping us produce one of these evenings; we greatly appreciate their support!


Top News in the A.M.

Perhaps you heard: Alphabet became the most valuable publicly traded company in the world yesterday.

For the first time, Alphabet also broke out its revenue and loss from its “other bets” outside of its core products yesterday, revealing those bets generated $448 million in revenue in 2015 but that Alphabet’s operating loss for them was almost $3.6 billion.

Apple is reportedly eyeing March 15 for its next big iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch event.


Don’t Mess with Musk

Yesterday, longtime Bay Area venture capitalist Stewart Alsop posted something fairly unexpected to Medium.

In a letter to Tesla CEO Elon Musk titled “Banned by Tesla,” Alsop wrote of his surprise that Tesla would cancel the Model X he’d ordered and that Alsop has been eagerly awaiting. (Alsop says in the post it was to be red, with black leather seats and Tesla’s Ludicrous Speed option.)

It was no clerical or accounting error. Alsop says that after complaining — also on Medium — about what he viewed as the Model X’s poorly orchestrated launch event back in September (Alsop titled that one, “@ElonMusk, You should be ashamed of yourself”), Musk personally got involved in his order.

Specifically, says Alsop, he canceled it.

We reached out to both Alsop and Tesla yesterday to find out more about the incident, which we gather is unprecedented, but have yet to hear back from either.

What we do know, from Alsop’s post, is that the two talked on the phone at some point, at which point Musk told Alsop that he was not comfortable with him owning a Tesla after having been flamed by Alsop publicly.

More here.


New Fundings

Bochewang, a 1.5-year-old, China-based online auction platform for salvaged (then restored) cars, has raised $30 million in Series B funding led China Pacific Insurance Corporation, with participation from Sino-Ocean LandFar East Horizon, and earlier backer Fosun Kinzon Capital. Asian Venture Capital Journal has more here.

Calysta Energy, a four-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based company that’s developing a new biological gas-to-liquids and biological gas-to-chemical technology using natural gas, has raised $30 million in Series C funding from Cargill, the Municipal Employee Retirement System of Michigan, Old Westbury Global Real Assets Fund, and earlier backers Walden Riverwood Ventures, Aqua-Spark and Pangaea Ventures. More here.

Click Notices, a five-year-old, Annapolis, Md.-based SaaS company that provides delinquency management services to the multifamily property industry, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by Sopris CapitalMore here.

TheFamily, a nearly three-year-old, Paris-based startup accelerator and startup studio for big corporate clients, has raised $6.6 million in funding from 500 Startups, ACE & Company, SGH Capital, Pentalabbs, and numerous individual investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Grapeshot, a 24-year-old, New York- and London-based ad tech firm, has raised $8.5 million in funding from European-based investors IQ CapitalDraper Esprit, and Albion Ventures. The company has now raised $14.25 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

HI-FI, a three-year-old, Ponte Vedra, Fla.-based interest-centric social media network (users join micro-communities of other users who share similar interests), has raised $3 million in seed funding from friends, family and local seed investors.

Kraken, a 4.5-year-old, San Francisco-based digital currency exchange, has raised an undisclosed “mult-million dollar” round of Series B funding from SBI Investment,  the venture arm of SBI Holdings, a Japan-based Internet-based financial group. StrictlyVC had talked with Kraken founder and CEO Jesse Powell back in June. CoinDesk has more on the round here.

Magic Leap, a four-year-old, Dania, Fla.-based startup at work on a yet-to-debut device that reportedly overlays digital animation on a user’s field of vision, has officially raised $793.5 million in a Series C round of funding at a whopping $4.5 billion post-money valuation. The round was led by e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba, with participation also from earlier backers GoogleQualcomm Ventures, Warner Bros, Fidelity, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, T. Rowe Price and Wellington Management Co. The company has also added Alibaba founder and executive president Jack Ma to its board of directors. TechCrunch has more here.

OutSystems, a 15-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based service that helps enterprises quickly build line-of-business apps, has raised $55 million in funding led byNorth Bridge Growth Equity. Previous investors in the company include ES Ventures and Portugal Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Pencil + Pixel, a year-old, San Francisco-based company whose online service, Modsy, allows users to see and purchase designs and decor within the context of their own homes, has raised $8 million in Series A funding. Norwest Venture Partners led the round, with participation from earlier investors and prominent angels Restoration Hardware SVP Eoin Harrington, Joanne Wilson of Gotham Gal, and Pascal Levensohn of Dolby Ventures. The company has now raised $11.75 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

PhotoSonix Medical, a 1.5-year-old, Ambler, Pa.-based company whose medical device treats acne, has raised more than $1.4 million in funding led by Princeton BioPharma Capital Partners, with participation from unnamed healthcare executives and entrepreneurs. MedCity News has more here.

RiskMethods, a three-year-old, Munich, Germany-based SaaS company that supports geo-based modeling of complex supply chains to provide its customers greater transparency about risk exposures, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by EQT Ventures. Earlier backers Senovo, Point Nine Capital and Bayern Kapital also joined the round. EU Startups has more here.

SolidEnergy, a 4.5-year-old, Waltham, Ma.-based company that makes anode-free batteries, has raised $12 million in Series B funding led by an unnamed U.S. auto company, with participation from SAIC, Applied Ventures, and the company’s Series A backers, which includes Vertex Ventures. More here.

Spotcap, a 1.5-year-old, Berlin-based Rocket Internet-founded fintech startup that operates an online lending platform for small businesses, has raised €31.5 million ($34.4 million) in new funding led by Russian private equity firm Finstar Financial Group, with participation from previous investor Holtzbrinck Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Tattoodo, a three-year-old, Copenhagen-based digital lifestyle content and e-commerce hub for all things tattoo-related, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from numerous individual investors, including AOL executive Jimmy Maymann, Pluto TV CEO Tom Ryan, and Threadless CEO Jake Nickell. TechCrunch has more here.

ThirdLove, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based intimates brand, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from new and earlier investors, including former Spanx CEO Laurie Ann GoldmanLori Greeley, the former CEO of Victoria’s Secret Stores; REI chairman John Hamlin; Starwood Hotels founder Barry Sternlicht; and American Express EVP Claire Bennett.

Widespace, a nearly nine-year-old, Stockholm Sweden-based mobile ad platform, has raised $17.2 million in growth capital from Kreos, with participation from earlier backers. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds

Lewis & Clark Ventures, a year-old, St. Louis, Mo.-based growth-stage venture firm focused on Midwest startups, has closed its debut fund with $104 million. More here.

Medicxi Ventures, a new venture capital firm that has offices in London and Geneva and which comprises all of the existing life sciences portfolio companies and funds from Index Ventures, has closed Medicxi Ventures 1, a $250 million fund that will focus on early-stage life sciences investments, predominantly in Europe. It’s being managed by four general partners: Francesco De RubertisDavid Grainger, Kevin Johnson and Michèle Ollier, all of whom previously led the life sciences practice of Index Ventures. More here.

The United Nations plans to funnel $9 million into 60 startups to help create open source technologies that improve the lives of children in developing countries. Wired has more here.



Bezar, the year-old design ecommerce platform led by Fab cofounder Bradford Shellhammer, is being acquired by the four-year-old, Australian ecommerce site AHALife, which sells hard-to-find design products. The terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed. Bezar looks to have raised just $2.25 million, including from Maveron, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, and BoxGroup. TechCrunch hasmore here.

Publicly traded FireEye has acquired Invotas, a 1.5-year-old, Alexandria, Va.-based company that develops a platform that helps administrators respond faster to security incidents. Terms were not disclosed. Invotas hadn’t disclosed any outside funding. PCWorld has the story here.



Roy Bahat, who heads up the venture outfit Bloomberg Beta in San Francisco, says that he and his partners have made the future of work their overarching investment theme, and it’s something he wants their entrepreneurs to be focused on, too. More here.

Geekwire talks with “Silicon Valley” actor and comic T.J. Miller, who somewhat famously offended a long list of people at TechCrunch’s Crunchies award ceremony last year. (This year’s Crunchies is coming up Monday, by the way. We’ll be on hand to help present the Angel of the Year award.)



Moscow-based Runa Capital, which opened a San Francisco office last year, is looking to hire an associate in SF.


Essential Reads

China is planning a pilot program that will allow select commercial banks to set up equity investment arms and take direct stakes in tech firms, a move aimed at giving lenders a chance to buy into a high-growth industry while stoking competition with private equity players. Reuters has more here.

At Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, the freshmen wear Fitbits. They have to. They’re now mandatory, reports the Washington Post.



23andMe on why some people are more chipper than others in the mornings.

How many steps a day should you really walk?

The death of a troll.


Retail Therapy

Stomp walker stilts. (Your kids will thank us.)

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