StrictlyVC: March 7, 2016

Hi, everyone, welcome back, and happy Monday!


Top News in the A.M.

Apple must pay $450 million to end an antitrust suit after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to question a finding that the company orchestrated a scheme to raise the prices for electronic books. Bloomberg has more here.


Andreessen Horowitz Talking with LPs about a New $1.5 Billion Fund

The venture firm Andreessen Horowitz is talking with investors about a fresh $1.5 billion fund, according to several sources who note the fund could always close at a higher number.

It was almost exactly two years ago that the firm closed its forth, multi-stage venture capital fund, Andreessen Horowitz Fund IV, with $1.5 billion.

The money also comes on the heels of a $200 million fund that the firm announced in November called the AH Bio Fund, a vehicle that’s being used to invest in mostly early-stage startups at the intersection of computer science and life sciences.

Altogether, Andreessen Horowitz, which launched in June 2009, has so far raised $4.35 billion, including three previous funds.

The firm declined to comment for this story, but it’s easy to imagine that even Andreessen Horowitz – considered one of the top venture firms in the world — isn’t finding fundraising quite as easy as it has in the past given uncertainty in the broader market.

Though it will undoubtedly reach its target, the young firm is looking for capital at a time when its own investors may not be feeling terribly flush.

As Chris Douvos, a limited partner with Venture Investment Associates, recently told us, “LPs are definitely yelling at VCs to put some ‘moolah in the coolah.’” Institutional funds “give out money [to VCs] expecting it will come back with profits in a reasonable amount of time,” said Douvos. “When it doesn’t, we can’t put more money into the asset class because a.) we’re at the top of our allocation [to venture capital and b.) we’re out of money.”

Indeed, the firm looks to have spent recent months preparing to woo investors, including by liquidating part of its stake in the car-sharing company Lyft in December.

As the WSJ reported earlier this month, both Andreessen Horowitz and early Lyft backer Founders Fund sold some of their shares to Saudi Arabia’s Prince al-Waleed bin Talal and his Kingdom Holding Co. (Taking money off the table and making distributions to LPs is a decision their fellow investor Fred Wilson recently argued more venture firms should be doing more frequently.)

Andreessen Horowitz has also been shifting its staff around quite a bit.

More here.


New Fundings

Culture Amp, a four-year-old, San Francisco and Melbourne, Australia-based startup that specializes in staff surveying and analytics, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Index Ventures, with participation from Felicis Ventures and Blackbird Ventures. Fortune has more here.

GetLinks, a year-old, Bangkok, Thailand-based startup that helps tech companies find and hire top talent, has closed raised $500,000 in seed funding from 500 Startups and CyberAgent Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

LightSail, a nearly four-year-old, New York-based K-12 literacy “accelerator” that combines books with in-text embedded assessments and real-time data to deliver literacy gains, has raised $11 million in Series B funding led by Intuit cofounder Scott Cook, with participation from the Bezos Family Foundation and earlier investors. EdSurge has more here.

Property Partner, a two-year-old, London-based company that combines residential real estate crowdfunding with a secondary exchange through which investors can trade their holdings, has raised £15.9 million ($22.6 million) in Series B funding led by earlier investor Octopus Ventures, with participation from earlier backer Index Ventures and from Dawn Capital. TechCrunch hasmore here.

Staff Finder, a four-year-old, Zurich, Switzerland-based on-demand marketplace for temporary staffing, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding led by One Peak Partners and Goldman Sachs Private Capital (though sources tell TechCrunch the round is in the region of €20 million, or $21.9 million). More here.

United Wind, a three-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based distributed wind energy company, has raised $8 million in Series B funding led by Norway’s Statoil Energy Ventures and Forum Equity Partners. More here.

Zaloni, a nine-year-old, Durham, N.C.-based data lake startup, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding led by Sierra Ventures, with participation from Baird Capital. More here.



Spanish banking giant BBVA has acquired Holvi, an online-only bank for entrepreneurs and SMBs based out of Finland. (“Holvi” means “vault” in Finnish.) Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Much more here.



At our recent event, Autodesk CEO Carl Bass talked about Autodesk’s current transition away from selling perpetual licenses to selling subscriptions instead, calling it “painful” but necessary. More here.

VC Chamath Palihapitiya tells Business Insider that if former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg ultimately runs for U.S. president, his venture firm, Social Capital, will devote its resources to helping the campaign. “I’ve told them (Bloomberg’s folks) that most of us would pause our day jobs to get him elected.”

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel really likes Viacom employees, evidently.

Ray Tomlinson, who invented email as we know it today, passed away with this weekend at age 74. More here.



Stripe is looking for a country lead in the U.K. The job is in London.


Essential Reads

BlackRock, Fidelity Investments, T. Rowe Price, and Wellington Management run or advise mutual funds that own shares in at least 40 closely held startups valued at $1 billion or more. For 13 of them, at least one mutual-fund firm values its investment at less than what it paid (by a lot), reports the WSJ.

Bloomberg’s Matthew Levine on unicorn love, or seeming lack of it, from mutual fund investors: “Private companies are the new public companies, and sometimes public companies’ stocks go down.”

Karhoo — a new mobile app that works like a search engine for taxis and black cars — says it will be bigger than Uber when it launches in New York next month.



A peek at JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s. new technology hub across the street from the Hudson Yards development on Manhattan’s West Side. Game room? Check. Xbox? Check. Pets? No way. And the snacks aren’t free.

An American finale to “Downtown Abbey.”

Interpreting support for Donald Trump, by SNL.


Retail Therapy


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