StrictlyVC: March 17, 2016

Happy St. Paddy’s Day, everyone! (Useless trivia: Americans drink about 600,000 pints of Guinness on an average each day. Today, about 3 million pints of Guinness will be guzzled.)


Top News in the A.M.

It’s been only four months since Google convinced VMware founder Diane Greene to lead its fledgling cloud-computing business, but she’s already scored a second huge coup for Google: landing Apple as a customer. That’s not good news for Amazon.


Human Ventures Turns ‘Normals’ Into Founders

A number of startup studios are in the midst of a years-long experiment, providing back-end assistance, office space and mentoring to talented, ambitious people in order to create a startup with them, often based around their expertise.

Betaworks was the first to try it, opening its doors in New York roughly nine years ago. Others, including Expa, a San Francisco-based firm with an office in New York; Science, based in L.A.; and Chicago-based Roniin are among many newer models, each with their own twist.

Human Ventures, which opened its doors in New York roughly a year ago, thinks it has struck on a model that can work, too.

The outfit was founded by entrepreneur Joe Marchese, who’d sold his adtech company to 21st Century Fox for $200 million in late 2014. But Marchese is just the largest among a group of mostly New York-based angel investors who are investors in Human Ventures. Indeed, the now six-person firm, which has raised an undisclosed amount of money, is largely run by CEO Heather Hartnett and Megan O’Connor, who joined the firm last May as its chief growth officer.

They aren’t longtime startup veterans. Hartnett ran business development at the venture firm City Light Capital and, before that, worked in philanthropy, including at the David Lynch Foundation. O’Connor also worked previously in nonprofits, including as a development director at both Pencils of Promise and Goods for Good.

That they’re comparative outsiders is kind of the point of Human Ventures, though.

More here.


New Fundings

10x Genomics, a four-year-old, Pleasanton, Ca.-based company at work on a DNA sequencing technology to help researchers better identify subtle variations that get overlooked by others, has raised $55 million in Series C funding led by Fidelity Management & Research Company, with participation from Softbank and JS Capital Management, as well as earlier backers VenrockForesite Capital, and Paladin Capital. FierceMedicalDevices has more here.

Afluenta, a 3.5-year-old, Buenos Aires, Argentina-based peer-to-peer lending network, has raised $8 million in Series B funding from International Finance Corporation and Elevar Equity. More here.

DiACardio, a seven-year-old, Beer Sheva, Israel-based software company that makes decision-support tools for cardiologists using echocardiography, has raised $1.95 million in a post seed financing round led by Shengjing Grou, with participation from CE Ventures, AltaIR, and earlier backers Agate-Mac Fund and Capital Point. More here.

FloQast, a nearly three-year-old, L.A.-based startup that makes month-end closing software for accountants, has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding co-led by Polaris Partners and Toba Capital, with participation from Amplify.LA, Wavemaker Partners, and Danmar Capital. More here.

Gecko Biomedical, a three-year-old, Paris, France-based medical device company developing polymers to support tissue healing, has raised €22.5m ($25.4 million) in Series A2 funding led by Sofinnova Partners, with participation from Bpifrance and earlier investors Omnes Capital, CM-CIC Innovation and CapDecisif Management. More here.

Handshake, a 5.5-year-old, New York-based maker of wholesale order apps for mobile, has raised $14 million in Series B funding led by Sozo Ventures, with participation from Emergence Capital, SoftTech VC, BOLDstart VenturesMHS Capital, Point Nine, and Primary Venture Partners. The company has now raised $23.5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Mandaê, a two-year-old, São Paulo, Brazil-based Shyp-like startup, has raised $2.5 million in funding from Qualcomm Ventures, with participation from earlier investors Monashees+ and Valor Capital Group. The company has now raised $5 million altogether. More here.

M-Files, a 14-year-old, Dallas, Tex.-based company whose document management software helps businesses organize, manage and track their documents and business processes, has raised $36 million in Series B funding led by Partech Ventures, with participation from Finnish Industry Investment and Draper Esprit. More here.

Momo, a young, Vietnam-based company whose mobile payment apps allow users to pay online and make peer-to-peer payments, has raised $28 million in funding from banking giants Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs. TechCrunch has more here.

Pieces Technologies, a months-old, Dallas, Tex.-based startup that plans to sell integrated monitoring, prediction, workflow optimization and organizational learning services and software to hospitals and health systems, has raised $21.6 million in Series A funding co-led by Pacific Advantage Capital and Jump Capital, with participation from Children’s Health (Dallas), Order of Saint Francis Healthcare System, PCCI, and unnamed angel investors. More here.

Trusted, a 15-month-old, San Francisco-based company that helps parents find child care, has added $1 million to seed funding that it had quietly raised last September. The newest capital, which brings the round to $2.1 million altogether, comes from AngelList cofounder Naval Ravikant and CrunchFund. Earlier investors in the company include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersSlow Ventures, Metamorphic Ventures, Techstars Ventures and Great Oaks Venture Capital. More here.


New Funds

Founders Fund, the nearly 11-year-old, San Francisco-based venture capital firm co-founded by the billionaire Peter Thiel, has raised more than $1 billion for its latest investment fund, a person with knowledge tells the New York Times. More here.

Pejman Mar Ventures, a three-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based early-stage venture fund, is targeting $75 million for its second fund, shows an SEC filing that lists the fund name as Pear Ventures II. Pejman Mar closed its debut fund with $40 million in 2013. We’d written about the founder-friendly outfit, which spends much of its time on the campuses of Stanford and, increasingly, UC Berkeley, here.



SpoonRocket, the venture-backed on-demand food delivery startup that shut down earlier this week, has a buyer in Brazil-based iFood, a food delivery platform looking to dominate the on-demand economy in Latin America, as well as other emerging economies. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.



Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield is not interested in hiring salespeople to help his fast-growing startup sell to companies. In a talk at the South by Southwest conference this week, he said Slack intends to keep relying on its viral growth, and some paid advertising, to sell its software.

Apple CEO Tim Cook talks with Time about the company’s fight with the FBI. “This seemed like a back door of the back door. You know, trying to force someone to put a back door in, making people more vulnerable. Clearly trampling on civil liberties. I mean, I think it’s hard to debate these things. I think these things are unequivocally what is going on.”

Unmasking Startup L. Jackson, Silicon Valley’s favorite Twitter persona.



Klarna is hiring a U.S. marketing director. (More about the company here.)


Essential Reads

According to a new report from The Information, Snapchat, like Amazon,  has a “back-weighted” vesting schedule, meaning that fully 40 percent of employees’ stock option grants vest in their fourth year at the company. More, even if an employee sticks around for four years for all of their restricted stock units to vest, the stock expires two and a half years later if the company hasn’t had a “liquidity event” by that point. More here (subscribers only).



The curse of people who can’t stop cracking jokes.

Cities where the highest share of young households are making at least $350,000.


Retail Therapy

Self-lacing Nikes (are here).

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