StrictlyVC: February 3, 2016

Hi, happy Wednesday, dear readers! Busy morning over here. Know some of you are in sunny L.A. today; hope you’re enjoying it.


Top News in the A.M.

In what is surely a surreal twist for the many traditional booksellers done in by Amazon, the e-commerce giant is now planning to open hundreds of brick-and-mortar bookstores.


Mifold Raises $1.5 Million for its Grab-and-Go Booster Seat

If you have young children, or your children aren’t so old that you can still remember what a pain clunky car seats can be, you might want to acquaint yourself with three-year-old, Ra’anana, Israel-based mifold.

The founders of King Digital Entertainment did. In fact, after seeing the Indiegogo campaign of mifold and its accompanying video, they reached out to mifold founder Jon Sumroy on LinkedIn of all places, asking if they could plug $1.5 million into the company.

Sumroy says it’s the “first formal” investment out of the King founders’ seed-stage fund, Sweet Capital. Sumroy also says that mifold has now raised $3.3 million altogether, including earlier seed rounds that came from friends, family, and several early production partners that like what the company is building.

As a parent who’s entering the carpooling phase of her sons’ lives, I definitely get it. Plainly, so do the 15,000 customers who’ve pre-ordered roughly 30,0000 mifold car seats, which are expected to start rolling off the production line in late March, at $39.99 apiece (or slightly less bought in bulk).

More here.


New Fundings

After School, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup whose app for high school students allows them to post anonymously to their classmates (and was once banned from Apple’s App Store for violating the company’s safety guidelines) has raised $16.4 million in funding led by Accomplice, with participation from Cowboy Ventures and numerous individual investors, including Parse co-founder Tikhon Bernstam and AngelList co-founder Naval Ravikant. Recode has more here.

Agrible, a 3.5-year-old, Champaign, Il.-based company that makes predictive analytics tools for growers and agricultural companies, has raised $4.1 million in Series A funding from Flyover Capital, Serra Ventures and Archer Daniels Midland. More here.

Avalanche Technology, a nine-year-old, Fremont, Ca.-based company that makes solid-state storage arrays, has raised $23 million in new equity and debt funding from Thomvest Ventures, Vulcan Capital, Rogers Venture Partners, VTB Capital, and Horizon Technology Finance. More here.

Curalate, a three-year-old, Philadelphia, Pa.-based image recognition marketing startup, has raised $27.5 million in new funding led by New Enterprise Associates. The company has now raised $40 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Elemental Machines, a year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based software simulator startup that hopes to reduce time and costs associated with drug research through data, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Founders Fund. TechCrunch has more here.

eSentire, a 14-year-old, Cambridge, Ontario-based managed cybersecurity services company, has raised $19.5 million in new funding led by Edison Partners and Georgian Partners, with participation from Cisco Investments, Northleaf Ventures Catalyst Fund and Information Venture Partners.

FiscalNote, a 2.5-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based platform for analyzing government risk, has raised $10 million in Series C funding co-led by Visionnaire Ventures and Green Visor Capital, with participation from 645 Ventures, Renren, Plug and Play, SF Capital, Perle Ventures, Conversion Capital and individual investors, including Jerry Yang and Mark Cuban. Fortune has more here.

Geofeedia, a four-year-old, Chicago-based startup that pulls real-time, location-based data from social media, has raised $17 million in Series B funding led by Silversmith Capital Partners. Earlier investors, including Hyde Park Venture Partners, also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.

JASK, a new, San Francisco-based AI startup focused on cybersecurity, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Battery Ventures. More here.

Lamudi, a 2.5-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based real estate classifieds site operating in Asia, South America and MENA, has raised €29 million ($31.4 million) in new funding from earlier backers Rocket Internet (via a joint venture with Qatar-based Ooredoo), Holtzbrinck Ventures, and Tengelmann Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Pear Therapeutics, a 2.5-year-old, Boston-based developer of software-based substance abuse treatments, has raised $20 million in new funding from 5AM Ventures, Arboretum Ventures, JAZZ Venture Partners and Bridge Builders Collaborative. More here.

Petcube, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that makes a connected home camera so owners can play with their fluffy friends remotely, has raised $2.6 million in funding from Almaz Capital, Y Combinator, and AVentures Capital. The company has now raised $3.8 million to date. TechCrunch has more here.

Salesfloor, a three-year-old, Montreal, Canada-based SaaS platform that enables customers to shop online with their local store and associate, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by BDC Capital IT Venture Fund. FinSMEs has more here.

Siftery, a five-month-old, San Francisco-based database of sorts where companies list their software stacks, has raised $4 million from Felicis Ventures, Founders Fund, and Venrock among others. TechCrunch has more here.

Skybox Security, a 13-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based security analytics company, has raised $96 million in equity funding from the growth equity affiliate of Providence Equity Partners. Fortune has more here.

Spero Therapeutics, a 2.5-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based developer of treatments for bacterial infections, has raised $30 million in Series B funding from earlier investors Atlas Venture, S.R. One, Partners Innovation Fund,MRL Ventures, Lundbeckfond Ventures and The Kraft Group. Xconomy hasmore here.

StayNTouch, a 3.5-year-old, Bethesa, Md.-based enterprise mobile cloud platform that helps hotels better connect with staff and guests, has raised $9.5 million in new funding co-led by Concur and Shiji Ltd. More here.

Thumzap, a 2.5-year-old, Israeli startup whose payments platform alerts parents to the proposed online purchases of their teenagers through a “just ask” button, has raised $3 million in seed funding from Sierra Wasatch Capital and individual angels. TechCrunch has more here.

Travelstart, a 17-year-old, Cape Town, South Africa-based online travel agency, has raised $40 million in funding from Amadeus Capital and the Africa-based mobile services operator MTN.


New Funds

Index Ventures, the 20-year-old venture firm, with offices in San Francisco, London, and Geneva, has just closed its eighth early-stage venture firm, a $550 million pool that it plans to invest in the U.S. and Europe in equal parts. (The firm had raised around the same amount for its seventh early-stage fund, closed a few years ago.) Index — whose U.S. partners include firm cofounder Danny Rimer, former Cisco chief strategy officer Mike Volpi, and former Dropbox head of product Ilya Fushman — has also promoted to partner Shadul Shah. Shah had joined the firm from Summit Partners in 2008 as an associate. We talked with Volpi and Shah about the fund and more here.



Housejoy, an India-based home services on-demand company backed by Amazon (among others), has acquired the on-demand laundry and cleaning company MyWash. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch hasmore here.

Microsoft has acquired London-based SwiftKey, which makes a predictive smartphone keyboard, for $250 million, or roughly 10 times what SwiftKey raised from its investors. TechCrunch has more here.

ZAGG, best known for its line of Invisible Shield screen protectors, is acquiring Mophie, makers of the popular JuicePack line of smartphone battery cases. (Our Mophie products have saved our bacon more times than we can say.) Zagg will pay $100 million for Mophie up front, plus an earn-out based on Mophie’s performance over the next year. TechCrunch has more here.

Veolia, a Paris-based company, is acquiring Kurion, an Irvine, Ca.-based nuclear waste management technologies company, for $350 million. Kurion had reportedly raised just $5 million from investors. Reuters has more here.



GitHub VP of Engineering Susan Lally has parted ways with the company, in what’s become a long string of executive departures from the company. Business Insider has more here.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk thinks we made too big a deal of his canceling the car order of VC Stewart Alsop.

Alexander Taussig has joined Lightspeed Venture Partners as a partner. He previously spent more than six years with Highland Capital Partners.

Yahoo has confirmed its plans to lay off approximately 15 percent of its workforce. TechCrunch has more here.



According to Pitchbook, venture capital invested soared to an astonishing $14 billion in January, with 50 different rounds generating $50 million or more. Almost one quarter of that sum centered on one deal — China’s Meituan-Dianping, a seller of movie tickets and restaurant bookings raised a stunning $3.3 billion — but  900 other financings also went down, totaling a lot more funding than in January 2015. More here.


Essential Reads

Investor Mark Suster, whose Upfront Ventures kicked off a two-day conference in L.A. this morning, has put together one of his big fat state-of-venture-capital type presentations. You can read about it here.



The art world insider who went too far.

The company behind the Super Bowl coin toss — and its dark secret.

Resting bitchface, examined.


Retail Therapy

The Jaguar XF R-Sport. It “literally pulses with excitement,” says the New York Times.

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