StrictlyVC: April 11, 2016

Hi, everyone! Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Apologies for today’s very late send — busy morning!

Btw, if you’re in San Francisco next week, you might want to check out an event called Bridging the Gender Gap. We’ve had some early discussions with the organizers (we’re moderating a panel) and would guess it’ll be worth your time. More information here.


Top News in the A.M.

Everyone wants a piece of the digital mapping company HERE. Reuters has the latest.

The owner of Britain’s Daily Mail is reportedly in early discussions over a bid for ailing Yahoo. U.S. News & World Report has more here.


Ground Delivery Robots: Passing Fancy or Next Wave?

“Every failed on demand startup will reappear as a successful robotics driven business in five to 10 years.” So tweeted Jeremy Conrad, founding partner of the San Francisco-based hardware fund Lemnos Labs, one recent afternoon.

Conrad apparently means what he tweets, having investing in Marble, a new, San Francisco-based ground-delivery robot that will focus on ground-based last-mile delivery for business, then consumer, applications. (Conrad wouldn’t discuss the still-stealth startup’s funding picture, but another source tells us it’s currently meeting with investors.)

He’s hardly alone in thinking that ground robots will be bringing us everything from canned goods to Christmas lights sooner than we think. For example, last week, Andreessen Horowitz announced it had led a $2 million investment in Dispatch, a company whose self-driving ground delivery robots look like minibars on wheels.

And Dispatch’s machines look an awful lot like the robots of Starship, an Estonia-based outfit created by Skype cofounders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, who took the wraps off their still-in-beta machines late last year. The robots, which also look like little refrigerators, are designed to deliver goods like groceries – about two bag’s worth – in 30 minutes of less.

In each case, the idea is to save money on deliveries by cutting out costly humans. Starship is also promising to give customers more control over the delivery process. It says it will enable residents to schedule deliveries only when the timing works, as well as track in real time the whereabouts of the robots, whose tech includes GPS, gyroscopes, and nine cameras. (As an added bonus, its robots will produce zero emissions, says Starship.)

Whether these new ground-based robot couriers represent the beginnings of a broader trend or a series of one-off bets remains a question mark. We’d bet on the former, though.

More here.


New Funds

Venture capitalist Tim Draper has raised a new, $190 million early-stage fund under the brand Draper Associates. The core investment team consists of Draper, his son Billy, and Andy Tang. Before joining his father, Billy Draper was a designer at the online rental marketplace Apartment List. Tang was a longtime managing director atDFJ Dragon Fund and more recently CEO of Draper’s co-working space, Hero City.

London-based venture firm Octopus Ventures has topped up its evergreen early -stage startup investment fund with another £100 million, bringing the total backing the fund to more than £400 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Unicorn Capital Partners, a China-focused venture capital fund-of-funds launched by former partner at Emerald Hill Capital Partners Tommy Yip, has closed its debut fund with about $210 million. Yip left Emerald Hill Capital Partners in January of last year to create his own fund. China Money Network has the story here.

Upside, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based seed-stage venture firm that was founded by former First Round partner Kent Goldman, has raised a second, $44 million, fund. Goldman named his firm Upside because it gives every founding team in its portfolio a piece of its carry, making them effectively Upside’s partners.



SecureWorks, the cybersecurity arm of Dell, which helps corporations lock down their systems and check for computer intruders, has put a price range of $15.50 to $17.50 on its initial public offering of stock. The WSJ has more here.



Institutional investors are writing bigger and bigger checks to fewer firms. So suggests the latest data from the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters, which shows that U.S. venture capital firms raised $12 for 57 funds during the first quarter this year — a 59 percent increase in capital over the first quarter of 2015 and a 17 percent decrease in number of funds raised. Somewhat amazingly, VCs haven’t raised so much money in three months since the second quarter of 2006, when 79 funds raised $14.3 billion. TechCrunch has more here.


Essential Reads

Less willing to post updates about your life on Facebook? Join the crowd.

Slack has posted its platform roadmap for developers.

How an internet mapping glitch turned a random Kansas farm into a digital hell.



Ricky Gervais’s David Brent is back and on the road.

So easy a dog with a paintbrush can do it(?).

The case for wine.


Retail Therapy

Explora Patagonia.

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