StrictlyVC: April 15, 2016

Aaaaaaaand, Friday! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


Top News in the A.M.

Companies have until Monday to bid on Yahoo’s internet assets. Yet Fortune is reporting this morning that many of the parties identified by media reports as kicking Yahoo’s tires haven’t even signed the 14-page nondisclosure agreement required to view its sale book.


A Strange New Battle Begins Over Who Owns Cruise Automation

A strange new battle over valuable startup equity took another step forward late yesterday afternoon.

Jeremy Guillory, a Bay Area mechanical engineer, has filed a cross-complaint against 2.5-year-old Cruise Automation and its longtime CEO, Kyle Vogt. At issue: Guillory says that the self-driving car company — which developed an autopilot system for existing cars and is being acquired by General Motors for reportedly north of $1 billion — is cheating him out of his rightful 50 percent ownership stake in the business, which he says he helped form. (In legalese, Guillory is accusing Vogt and Cruise of promissory estoppel, conversion, unjust enrichment and accounting.)

You knew this counter-claim was coming Wednesday, when the president of Y Combinator, Sam Altman, tried to get ahead of things publicly in a blog post.

As you may have read then, Altman, who has known Vogt for years and whose accelerator program provided Cruise its first check, acknowledged that Gillory “collaborated with Kyle for a very short period early on in the life of Cruise.”

Some time in the weeks since GM announced it was buying the company in mid March, Guillory requested a percentage of Vogt’s equity in the company, even though, according to Altman,  “Kyle and Jeremy parted ways” after roughly one month of working together. “This event happened more than two years ago, and well before the company had achieved much of anything.”

The matter was private at first, with Vogt making what Altman described as an “extremely generous offer to settle this claim,” presumably to keep it from derailing Cruise’s acquisition. When Guillory didn’t accepted Vogt’s offer by a deadline last Friday, Vogt hired the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe to sue Guillory for so-called declaratory relief.

Guillory’s new cross-complaint seems to confirm Altman’s account from yesterday (which itself echoes Vogt’s suit).

The filing acknowledges that Guillory and Vogt first met in mid October 2013 and began working on Cruise. By October 21, 2013, they had submitted an application to Y Combinator, whose deadline that year was October 31. By November 7, 2013, after the duo had been accepted into the accelerator, Vogt told Guillory that he no longer wanted to work together.

Guillory’s attorneys note that on that print application to YC, Guillory and Vogt list themselves as co-founders and 50 percent shareholders of Cruise.

That seems to be the only documentation Guillory has to support his claim, along with this one-minute video, which Guillory and Vogt also submitted as part of their application. Whether it’s enough could determine whether or not Guillory is entitled to up to hundreds of millions of dollars.

More here.


New Fundings

Beekeeper, a 4.5-year-old, Zurich, Switzerland-based business communications platform for organizations with field employees, has raised $5 million in new funding led by Fyrfly Venture Partners, with additional investment from b-to-v Partners, Polytech Ecosystem Ventures and numerous angel investors, including Delivery Hero Niklas Ostberg. TechCrunch has more here.

Covalent Data, a five-year-old, Denver, Co.-based company that helps technology developers find licensing opportunities, has raised $1.2 million in Series A-1 funding led by High Country Venture. The company has now raised $4.8 million altogether. More here.

HomeToGo, a two-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based metasearch engine for holiday rentals, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Insight Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers DN Capital and Acton Capital Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

RefleXion Medical, a six-year-old, Hayward, Ca.-based company at work on a technology to make cancer radiation therapy safer, has raised $46 million in Series B funding led by KCK Group, a family investment fund. Earlier investors Pfizer Venture Investments, Sofinnova Partners, and Venrock also joined the round. FinSMEs has more here.

RigUp, a two-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based online marketplace for oil-rig projects, has raised $15 million in Series A funding from mostly earlier investors, including Founders Fund, Box Group, and Great Oaks. New backers include FreeS VC, Moore Capital and GE Ventures. The company has now raised $18 million altogether. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.

TabMo, a three-year-old, Paris-based mobile programmatic advertising startup, has raised €4 million ($4.5 million) from Generis Capital and Ardian. More here.

TargEDys, a five-year-old, Rouen, France-based company that develops drugs and other medical products to regulate appetite, has raised €5.8 million ($6.53 million) in Series A funding from Seventure Partners, NCI and PontifaxMore here.



Bats Global Markets, the second-largest stock exchange operator in the U.S., looks to be off to a promising start as a public company. This morning, its shares opened trading at $22.88, up from their IPO price $19 per share. Business Insider has more here.



Beacon, a two-year-old, New York-based startup that sought to bring an all-you-can-fly option to business and leisure travelers starting on the East coast, has closed shop. The company had raised $6.5 million in funding from Romulus Capital, MiVentures and others. It also raised $1 million in venture debt funding from Western Technology Investment. TechCrunch has more here.

Dinner Lab, a four-year-old, New Orleans, La.-based pop-up food event service, has officially shut down. The company had raised $9.1 million in venture financing, including from James River Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Publicly traded Mitel of Kanata, Ontario is acquiring publicly traded Polycom of San Jose, Ca., in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $1.96 billion. The combo creates a company with sales of $2.5 billion and 7,700 employees. Both Mitel and Polycom provide communications networks, software and other products for businesses. TechCrunch has more here.

Shuddle, the Uber-like service that promised the safe transport of kids to soccer games and other places, is shutting down today. The company had raised $12.2 million from investors, including RRE Ventures, Forerunner Ventures, and Accel Partners. TechCrunch has more here.



Siemens Venture Capital is looking to hire an associate. The job is in Palo Alto, Ca.



What bubble? Or, bubble! New National Venture Capital Association data shows that the $12.1 billion invested at the beginning of 2016 represents the best start to a year since the dot-com boom in 2001 (except for last year, which saw $13.7 billion invested in the first quarter). The first quarter was also the ninth consecutive quarter that saw deal volume reach $10 billion. TechCrunch has more here.

The total spend on medications in the U.S. grew to $310 billion in 2015 – up 8.5 percent from 2014, according to a new report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. That number is expected to double by 2020, to around $610 billion on an invoice price basis. MedCity News has more here.


Essential Reads

Apple has reportedly created a secret team to explore changes to the App Store, including a new strategy for charging developers to have their apps more prominently displayed. Bloomberg has the story here.

For the first time, San Francisco is going to require the 37,000 Lyft and Uber drivers who work in the city seven or more days a year to obtain a business license. The San Francisco Chronicle has more here.



The unoriginal originality of Led Zeppelin.

This baby gorilla is a pretty good dancer.

A pizza box for 420 Day. (We neither condone nor condemn this pizza box.)


Retail Therapy

An inflatable house-shaped bed, for some reason.

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