StrictlyVC: March 24, 2016

Hi, everyone, happy Thursday!


Top News in the A.M.

Hedge fund Starboard Value is seeking to remove the entire board of Yahoo, setting the stage for a battle over the future of the faded Web giant. (We’re actually starting to feel sorry for CEO Marissa Mayer.)

Google is reportedly building a live-streaming app to take on Twitter‘s Periscope.


Recharge Invites Users to Book Hotel Rooms — One Minute at a Time

Call it on-demand on steroids. A 10-month-old, San Francisco company called Rechargehas developed an app that enables users to book a stay in hotel for just for 67 cents a minute, or $40 an hour.

The offering sounds both brilliant and preposterous, yet it has already attracted some smart investors, including Scott and Cyan Banister and early Google engineer Harry Cheung, who’ve provided the company with $650,000 in seed funding. It’s raising up to $2.5 million altogether.

To learn more about the company, we chatted recently with CEO Emmanual Bamfo, who held numerous brief stints at startups, including at the carpooling company Hitch (acquired by Lyft), before teaming up with two former classmates at Washington University in St. Louis to create Recharge.

Okay, so tell us about this seemingly crazy idea that just might work. Who is your target audience?

Somebody who came up to San Francisco from L.A. for a day trip booked a Recharge earlier today. We see folks who just want to change a diaper or nurse their baby. We get people who live in Menlo Park but work in San Francisco and who want to shower and take a little time for themselves before they head to an evening engagement.

It’s a real need that we’re solving. [Customers] are getting privacy in the city to nap or shower or prepare for something. You can’t do that at Starbuck’s.

This concept is very much like that of Breather, which provides on-demand rooms in cities so that visitors can pop in to relax with friends or maybe make some quiet calls. We should also note that Breather has raised nearly $28 million from investors. Why is this better?

More here.


New Fundings

Acutus Medical, a five-year-old, Carlsbad, Ca.-based medical device maker with a new technology for diagnosing and treating irregular heartbeats, has raised $75 million in Series C funding, including from new investors Deerfield Management, Xeraya Capital, and an undisclosed strategic investor. Advent Life Sciences, the company’s founding investor, also joined the round, along with existing backers OrbiMed and GE Ventures. Xconomy has more here.

Fixt, a three-year-old, Baltimore, Md.-based app for on-demand smartphone repair services (it works with both individuals and enterprise customers), has raised $1.4 million in seed funding, according to VentureWire. More here.

Juno, a months-old, New York-based ride-sharing service that is planning to take on Uber, is talking with investors about a $30 million round of funding, according to several TechCrunch sources, one of whom said of the valuation that Juno seeking, “It’s high.”  More here.

Kreditech, a four-year-old, Hamburg, Germany-based startup that offers loans and other financial services to consumers who have little or no credit history, has added another $11 million to its Series C financing, bringing the total round to $103 million. The new capital comes from the International Finance Corporation (a division of the World Bank). Other investors already in the round — which initially closed last September — include PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, Amadeus Capital Partners, Värde Partners, HPE Growth Capital, Blumberg Capital, and the private equity firm J.C. Flowers, which invested the most in the round. More here.

LifeBEAM Technologies, a four-year-old, New York-based startup that makes wearable goods for measuring fitness and performance, has raised $16 million in Series A funding, says VentureWire. Square Peg Capital led the round, with participation from Wellborn Ventures, Cerca Partners, Atomic14 Ventures, Triventures and angel investors. More here.

Mesosphere, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based container-centric company that aims to help enterprises better use their data centers with the help of its own operating system, has raised a $73.5 million Series C funding round. The round was led by Hewlett Packard Enterprise and also includes previous investors Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, and Fuel Capital, as well as new investors A Capital, Triangle Peak Partners, and Microsoft. TechCrunch has more here.

OneRent, a nearly two-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based startup behind a full-service rental management platform for landlords and tenants, has raised $4 million in Series A funding from the Chinese social-networking company Renren. More here.

Turner, a unit of Time Warner, reportedly intends to pour $100 million into its digital sports property, Bleacher Report. The WSJ has the story here.

Verdigris, a five-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca., based company that makes cloud analytics software for enterprise facilities managers and large commercial buildings, has raised $9 million in funding across a previously undisclosed seed and Series A round, including from Jabil Circuit, Stanford StartX Capital, DCVC, and a collection of private investors. More here.

Zeel Networks, a 5.5-year-old, New York-based on-demand massage startup, has closed $10 million of a $12 million Series A round. Emil Capital Partnersled the round, with participation from Slow Ventures, Partech VenturesNew Atlantic Ventures and Spafinder. The company has raised $11.5 million to date. VentureWire has more here.


New Funds

Gobi Partners has partnered with Malaysia Venture Capital Management Berhard (MAVCAP), which claims to be the country’s largest venture capital firm, to launch a $14.5 million fund dedicated to seed-stage companies in Southeast Asia. More here.

True Ventures, the 10-year-old, early-stage venture firm, is targeting $295 million for its fifth investment fund, according to an SEC filing. The company, which closed its last fund with $290 million in 2014, could presumably raise much more. We wrote last fall about why that is.



AppDirect, a company that helps customers manage multiple cloud vendors, is spending an undisclosed amount to acquire Xendo, a two-year-old startup that enables users to conduct federated searches across cloud services. This is the sixth purchase for AppDirect, which has raised more than $245 million so far. As for Xendo, it’ raised just $28,000 in seed money, says TechCrunch. More here.


Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen has announced a $100 million investment in the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, a fund focusing on the future of biotech research. Allen, who is worth about $15.3 billion, announced the investment yesterday at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. More here.

We told you in late 2014 that things were a mess at Nest Labs, particularly pertaining to its $550 million acquisition of Dropcam. Today, The Information takes an even deeper dive, with insight from Dropcam’s cofounder and CEO Greg Duffy, who left Nest after CEO Tony Fadell reportedly told him, “You can’t report to me because you haven’t earned it.” More here.

Smartwatch pioneer Pebble is laying off 25 percent of its staff amid increased financial concerns. More here.



Email is dying among mobile’s youngest users, says a new report out of App Annie (that we hope is wrong).


Essential Reads

Instacart is  . . . generating profits?

A new startup, Boom, just landed a $2 billion deal with Virgin Group. Now it just needs to build 10 supersonic planes.



You’re excited! Not nervous. Just keep telling yourself that.


Retail Therapy

Neat. Swivel chairs, made from old Vespa parts.

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