StrictlyVC: April 5, 2016

Hi, everyone! How about that dazzling NCAA tournament ending last night!?

Looking forward to seeing some of you later at this hardware-focused seed and investing panel in SF.:)


Top News in the A.M.

Twitter says it has won a deal to show Thursday night NFL games online, giving it a key piece of content to attract mainstream users and make its service a go-to place to react to and discuss live events. Bloomberg has more here. Meanwhile Recode has some of the numbers behind the deal. (They’re surprising.)

Three months after predicting Goldman Sachs would put the tumultuous end of 2015 behind it and stabilize profits, analysts are reversing course and cutting projections. Again. More here.


Longtime Tesla Motors CIO jay Vijayan Has Formed a Stealth Startup

Jay Vijayan, who spent four years as the Chief Information Officer of Tesla Motors, and who served as its VP of IT and business applications for a year before that, left the company in January to form his own Bay Area startup.

Vijayan isn’t talking yet about that company. (StrictlyVC reached out to him last Monday and he hasn’t responded.)

But his departure comes at an interesting time, given the almost unprecedented excitement surrounding the Model 3 car that Tesla unveiled to the public last Thursday night.

As you may have already read, the company had booked more than 253,000 orders in the first 36 hours after CEO Elon Musk revealed several prototypes in a showy display reminiscent of Apple product releases.

That kind of demand is surely putting to the test a proprietary software system called Warp that Vijayan and his team of engineers at Tesla designed to support the company’s direct sales efforts in the U.S. (In 2014, the WSJ had taken a long look at the platform here.)

Vijayan also appears to be doing some angel investing, which may or may not be related to his new startup. Last Monday, numerous India-based outlets reported that FixNix, a Bangalore-based governance, risk management, and compliance platform, had raised $500,000 in seed funding led by Vijayan, along with other, unnamed, Silicon Valley-based angel investors.

More here.


New Fundings

Africa Internet Group, a three-year-old, Lagos, Nigeria-based outfit that owns online retailer Jumia and earlier this month disclosed that it had raised $326 at a valuation of more than $1 billion, has raised yet more capital. Specifically, the mobile giant Orange has plugged around $85 million into the company. TechCrunch has more here.

Flywheel, a 3.5-year-old, Omaha, Ne.-based WordPress hosting and management service, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by Kansas City’s Five Elms Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Human Longevity, a  three-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based genome outfit led by famed serial entrepreneur J. Craig Venter, has raised $220 million in Series B funding co-led by the cancer drug specialist Celgene and fellow California-based genome sequencing company Illumina. FierceBiotech has more here.

Jinn, a three-year-old, London-based logistics and delivery platform that promises same-hour deliveries, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding led by Samaipata Ventures (a new firm started by the founders of La Nevera Roja, a take-out ordering service sold to Rocket Internet last year for $100 million). Other participants include Elderstreet, Bull Partners, and earlier angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Mintigo, a seven-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based predictive marketing analytics company, has raised $15 million in Series D funding led by earlier investor Sequoia Capital. More here.

Origami Energy, a three-year-old, Cambridge, England-based tech platform for the smart management of distributed energy assets, has raised £13.7 million ($19.4 million) in Series A funding from earlier investors Cambridge Innovation Capital and Octopus Ventures, along with two (unnamed) individuals and Fred.Olsen companies. has more here.

Persado, a three-year-old, New York-based company whose software can write what the company calls “cognitive content,” meaning it primes readers to engage, has raised $30 million in new funding led by Goldman Sachs. TechCrunch has more here.

Sawyer, a seven-month-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based class-pass platform for kids’ activities, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from Notation CapitalCollaborative Fund, VC1, and other strategic angel investors. More here.

ShooWin, a five-month-old, New York-based platform that partners with leagues and sports teams to obtain tickets that can be reserved at low prices, has raised $1.25 million in seed funding led by BBG Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Virool, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based video ad startup, has raised $12 million in Series A funding from Menlo Ventures, Yahoo Japan, Flint Capital and 500 Startups. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds

New York-based Collaborative Fund has launched Collab+Consumer, a new venture fund focused on consumer products, in cooperation with the Collaborative-backed crowdfunding marketplace CircleUp Network. The firm isn’t disclosing the size of the fund. More here.



AccorHotels, one of Europe’s largest hotel groups, has acquired Onefinestay, a seven-year-old London-based short-term vacation rental company, for 148 million euros, or $169 million. According to CrunchBase, Onefinestay had raised roughly $80 million from investors, including Index Ventures and Canaan Partners. The New York Times has more here.

Brocade Communications, a maker of networking gear, is buying Ruckus Wireless, a company with a fast-growing Wi-Fi product roster, for roughly $1.5 billion in cash and stock. Ruckus had gone public in 2012. Fortune has more here.

MetaMind, a 1.5-year-old, Palo Alto Ca.-based AI startup, has been acquired by Salesforce for undisclosed terms. More here.

Red Swan Ventures, a seed-stage venture firm born out of Bonobos founder Andy Dunn’s angel investing, has put new deal-making on hold. “Right now, we are kind of on pause,” Dunn tells Venture Capital Dispatch.



Larry Begley, a founder of .406 Ventures, is leaving the firm to become the first CFO of its portfolio company CloudHealth Technologies.

Martina Lauchengco joined the Palo Alto, Ca.-based firm Costanoa Venture Capital last week as operating partner. Lauchengco has spent the last nine years working in management consulting with the outfit Silicon Valley Product Group.

Vanity Fair takes a look at what sunk Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer‘s media ambitions.



In case you missed this last week: 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.



China’s economic slowdown hasn’t dulled investor enthusiasm for the country’s tech companies, shows some surprising new data. According to the Tech in Asia database, investors ploughed $14.5 billion into Chinese tech startups and firms of all sizes in the first three months of the year — more than double what they invested during the same period last year.


Essential Reads

Rethinking ownership in an age of IoT devices.

Medium is becoming the publishing platform for the The Awl and a dozen other sites.

WeWork, the co-working real estate startup valued, controversially, at north of $5 billion, is launching WeLive, a residential rental building that offers flexible renting. The program will be tried first in New York and Arlington, Va. TechCrunch has more here.



An incredible, fast-paced journey through Japan.



Retail Therapy

Sailing, 007 style.

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