StrictlyVC: March 29, 2016

Hi, everyone! We realize we’re a bit late in sending out SVC today; we had some technical issues this a.m.

Hope you’re having a terrific Tuesday.:)


Top News in the A.M.

Dropcam cofounder Greg Duffy isn’t done putting Nest‘s Tony Fadell in his place. (We asked Nest if it wants to comment on Duffy’s specific challenge to the company. A spokeswoman said Nest will “decline commenting at this time.”)


AND CO Raises Seed Round to Tackle Freelancers’ Tedious Tasks

If you’ve ever  worked as a freelancer, you know the last thing you want to do — after lining up gigs, submitting your work, and reworking your project (when that last person on the client side decides he or she wants something entirely different) —  is to handle all the administrative stuff. Think invoicing. Expenses. Other paperwork.

That’s why a year-old, New York-startup called AND CO is creating a system that does it for you, using both software and live chat support. (Every freelancer gets a personal “chief operator” during working hours.)

AND CO was born at Prehype, a four-year-old design and incubation boutique that produces new ideas for corporate customers. Among other companies to come from its team are the subscription business BarkBox and the office cleaning and management startup Managed by Q.

Prehype founder Henrik Werdelin is a BarkBox founder. Managed by Q cofounder Saman Rahmanian is also a partner at PreHype. Meanwhile, Leif Abraham, a former creative director who joined Prehype in 2014 and was an early employee at BarkBox, is the cofounder and CEO of AND CO. (Abraham says his cofounder, Martin Strutz, also a longtime digital creative, was “like an entrepreneur-in-residence” at Prehype.)

AND CO, which charges a flat $60 a month, focuses largely on freelancers with project workflow, like designers, writers, and developers.

It’s also fairly limited in what it can do — for now.

More here.


New Funding

Betterment, a 7.5-year-old, New York-based startup that automates financial planning, has raised $100 million in Series E funding led by Sweden’s Kinnevik. Previous investors including Bessemer Venture Partners, Menlo VenturesAnthemis Group, and Francisco Partners participated. The round reportedly values the company at $700 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Figtree Financing, a five-old, San Diego-based residential financing program for cleantech products, has raised $30 million in Series A funding led by the private equity firm LL Funds. More here.

Havenly, a two-year-old, Denver-based online interior design platform, has raised $5.8 million in additional Series A funding, bring the total round to $13.3 million. The round was led by Binary Capital with participation from Foundry Group and Chicago Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Homie, a two-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based online platform that helps users buy and sell their homes, has raised $3.76 million, shows a new SEC filing. Peak Ventures announced in November that it had provided an undisclosed amount of funding to the company. More here.

Hopper, a nine-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based company whose app tells travelers the best time to fly in order to find the best deals, has raised $16 million in growth funding led by BDC Capital IT Venture Fund, with participation from earlier backers OMERS Ventures, Accomplice (formerly Atlas Venture) and Brightspark Ventures. The company has now raised $38 million altogether. More here.

Rythm, a two-year-old, Paris and San Francisco-based company that claims its still-in-prototype headset will improve sleep quality, has raised more than $11 million from private (unnamed) investors and public grants, including France’s Concours Mondial d’Innovation. TechCrunch has more here.

Slice Labs, a six-month-old, New York-based startup that will offer insurance to on-demand workers and providers, has raised $3.9 million in seed funding from Horizon Ventures and XL Innovate. TechCrunch has more here.

Umbo CV, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose security cameras use artificial intelligence to identify suspicious activity, has raised a $2.8 million in seed funding. The round was led by AppWorks Ventures, with participation from Mesh Ventures, Wistron Corporation, and Phison Electronics. TechCrunch has more here.



Dating app Tinder is acquiring Humin, a  San Francisco contact management startup. Terms were undisclosed, but sources tell TechCrunch the deal was an acqui-hire. Humin had raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by Sherpa Capital, shows CrunchBase. More here.



Investor Chamath Palihapitiya chats with Vanity Fair, telling the outlet, “Most of the things [VCs have] funded are mostly crap and largely worthless.”

Man moves to San Francisco, pays $400 a month to sleep in wooden box inside friends’ living room.



Longtime VC recruiter Jon Holman is doing a general partner/managing director search for a long-time player in the venture business who has raised a new fund. To apply, you have to be in the Bay Area already or have focused on Bay Area deals. Contact Holman here.

Venture-backed Managed By Q is looking to hire a business analyst. The job is in New York.



Renaissance Capital has just published a first-quarter IPO report and it’s not pretty. Says its research team, the U.S. IPO market “hit its lowest levels since the depths of the financial crisis in 2008/2009. Not a single deal priced outside of the health care sector, where eight deals managed to raise $0.7 billion thanks to substantial buying by their existing shareholders. The resulting low tradable float also helped to prop up performance, and IPOs averaged a return of 20 percent, even as the broader health care sector vastly underperformed major indices.” You can find the entire write-up here.

And from Pitchbook: A look at some of the largest U.S. pension fund commitments to private equity and venture funds since 2013.


Essential Reads

Coming soon: 60-second videos in Instagram.

SoundCloud just took the wraps off a new subscription audio service that puts it in head-to-head in competition with the likes of  streaming services Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer.



The fall of China’s hedge fund king.

Unicorns were real, and they were real ugly, too.


Retail Therapy

20,000 bottles of wine,  from William Koch’s cellar.

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