StrictlyVC: March 22, 2015

Hi, happy Tuesday, everyone. (We’re thinking of those of you in Europe today. Ugh.)


Top News in the A.M.

Here’s everything that Apple announced yesterday.

The FBI thinks it has found a way to hack into that iPhone 5c without Apple’s help.


A VC in Greece, Operating in Tumultuous Times

Georgios Kasselakis has the same concerns as most VCs: How to raise money, how to grow the money investors provide him, how to identify the most promising startups.

Unlike most VCs, Kasselakis and his seed-stage firm, OpenFund, are based in Athens, Greece, a country that’s nearly bankrupt and where, even worse, more than 44,000 refugees are now trapped (a number that’s growing daily, owing to the closed-door policies of its neighbors).

We talked with Kasselakis last week via email to learn more about how seven-year-old OpenFund operates, and how it’s coping with what’s happening all around it.

How much money is OpenFund managing?

We sit on top of a €15 million fund, which is our second one. [It’s] a big jump from the €500,000 that we originally launched with.

How many companies has your firm funded to date?

We’ve made more than 20 investments in our second fund. While small by Silicon Valley standards,  you have to keep in mind the cost of labor for highly trained knowledge workers (developers, IT, network), which is roughly six to seven times less than the Valley.

How many other active tech venture firms are there in Athens?

There are four:  Odyssey Venture Partners; First Athens; VentureFriends, which just launched; and PJ Tech Catalyst.

Is that more or less than, say, five years ago?

A lot fewer. At some point, a fund of funds firm called Taneo had helped create more than 10, which were then discontinued. Most fund managers stumbled on the crisis, panicked, and didn’t do any investments at all.

More here.


New Fundings

Big Basket, a 4.5-year-old, Bangalore, India-based online grocery delivery company, has raised $150 million in new funding led by Abraaj Group, with participation from International Finance Corp, Sands Capital, and earlier backers Bessemer Venture Partners and Helion Advisors. More here.

BYJU, an eight-year-old, Bangalore, India-based educational app for Indian schoolchildren, has raised $75 million from Sequoia India and Sofina. The round brings the company’s total funding to $90 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Edgewater Markets, a seven-year-old, New York-based electronic foreign exchange aggregation and distribution platform, has raised $30 million in growth equity led by FTV Capital. More here.

Edj Analytics, a three-year-old, Louisville, Ky.-based company that sells game-based data-driven decision-support software, has raised $2.4 million in funding led by Chrysalis. More here.

Maxwell Health, a 3.5-year-old, Boston-based employee benefits tech platform, has raised $22 million in new funding from GIS Strategic Ventures, an investing arm of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America; Sun Life Financial; and Cendana Capital. Previous backers also contributed, including Adams Street Partners, Cambia Health Solutions, Catalyst Health Ventures, Industry Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Schooner Capital,Tribeca Venture Partners, and Vaizra Investments. Xconomy has more here.

Terminus, a 1.5-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based business-to-business marketing startup, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding, including $5 million in equity financing and $2.5 million in venture debt. The round was led by Edison Partners, with participation from existing investors including Hyde Park Venture Partners, Arthur Ventures, and Knoll Ventures. More here.

Zodiac, a year-old, Philadelphia, Pa.-based startup that makes predictive marketing analytics software, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by First Round Capital, with participation from Metamorphic Ventures, Felicis Ventures and Western Technology Investment. More here.


New Funds

Polytech Ecosystem Ventures, a seed and early stage venture firm with offices in Lausanne, Switzerland and San Francisco, has closed a $40 million venture capital fund that’s headquartered in Luxembourg and aimed at seed-stage startups in Switzerland, Europe and the U.S. The fund was raised from Swiss-based institutional investors and international private investors.

Just days after SV Angel filed for a new, $46 million fund, its former managing partner, David Lee, looks to be raising his own new fund under the brand Refactor Capital. An SEC form filed earlier today shows the Burlingame, Ca.-based outfit is raising up to $50 million for its debut effort and that its co-founders include Zal Bilimoria and Rick Barber. According to Fortune’s Dan Primack, the firm plans to invest in seed-stage software startups on the West Coast, including those focused on healthcare IT.



Apple has been talking about acquiring the 31-year-old, publicly traded British chip design company Imagination Technologies, according to Ars Technica UK.  Apple has even confirmed those talks, but says there are no plans to buy the company right now.

Jumio, the Andreessen Horowitz-funded mobile and online credentials authentication business, whose technology can scan and read information from payment cards and IDs, says that its U.S. business has begun voluntary Chapter 11 proceedings. The company is selling its business to early backer and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. According to CrunchBase, Jumio had raised roughly $37 million from investors. More here.



Legendary former Intel CEO Andy Grove passed away yesterday at age 79. Seed-stage VC Robert Siegel, who was Grove’s former research assistant, remembers him here.

Super entrepreneur Elon Musk and his wife, Talulah Riley, are divorcing again.



Hyde Park Venture Partners is looking to bring aboard an analyst. The job is in Chicago.

The Kapor Center for Social Impact is looking for a chief tech community officer. The job is in Oakland, Ca.



This quarter has already seen 8 new unicorn companies, according to CrunchBase. (Last year, it tracked 77 newly minted unicorns, an average of 19 per quarter.) You can see its interactive timeline visualization here.


Essential Reads

ANI Technologies, which runs the hugely popular India-based cab-hailing service Ola, has been dragged to court by Uber, which accuses Ola of creating fake accounts to book rides, then cancel them. (Hmm, why does this sound so familiar?)

The fantasy sports operators FanDuel and DraftKings have agreed to shut down in New York, their largest market, as part of a settlement announced yesterday with the state attorney general’s office.

How Tesla‘s Model 3 could conquer low-end luxury.



Kraft’s crafty switcheroo.

The thing with open letters.


Retail Therapy

The “Tesla of the skies,” from 3D Robotics.

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