StrictlyVC: April 26, 2016

Happy Tuesday, everyone!


Top News in the A.M.

Later today, Apple is expected to post its first quarterly revenue decline since 2003. Recode has more here.

Twitter‘s earnings are coming, too. The WSJ has what to watch for here.

Google, Ford, and Uber just created a giant lobbying group for self-driving cars. The Verge has more here.


Cyan Banister Has a New Startup and It’s Looking for Seed Funding

Cyan Banister realized long ago that Zivity, a subscription-based online community of artistic glamour and pin-up photography that she founded in 2007, was never going to be a highly profitable endeavor. That’s okay with her, too.

In an interview last week, Banister — known for the many angel investments she and husband Scott Banister have made over the years and more newly for her role as a partner at Founders Fund — told us Zivity was “always growing, but never at a crazy rate.”

Indeed, nine years after it was created, it has amassed 3,000 subscribers who pay the site on average $250 a year to access its various photo sets.

Now, Banister and Zivity’s longtime general manager-turned-CEO, Nadya Lev, think they’ve struck on a more lucrative opportunity that can not only shine a light on the creative class but help artists get paid, too. Their new company is called ThankRoll, and it’s looking for $1.5 million in seed funding to see how far it can get over the next 18 months.

It could make for an interesting bet. ThankRoll is essentially a service that offers a convenient way for fans of artists, blogs and others to support those products and services through a white-label widget that appears on the artists’ or blogs’ site. Fans just enter their credit card information; they can cancel their pledge any time they like.

More here.


New Fundings

Auro Robotics, a year-old, San Francisco-based company that’s building driverless shuttles for campuses (which have their own, rather than state or federal, regulations), has raised $2 million in Series A funding led by Motus Ventures, with participation from Rothenberg Ventures. More here.

Kasisto, a three-year-old, Burlingame, Ca.-based SRI spinoff that provides virtual personal assistants to banks (they use them to communicate with their customers), has raised an undisclosed amount of strategic funding from Singapore’s DBS Bank. More here.

LaunchPad Recruits, a 4.5-year-old, London-based company that makes data and video software for hiring, has raised $2.3 million in Series A funding from Sussex Place Ventures and Edenred Capital Partners, among others. More here.

Lendix, a 1.5-year-old, Paris-based peer-to-peer lending platform, has raised $13.5 million in funding from CNP Assurances, Matmut, Zencap AM and earlier backers Partech Ventures, Decaux Frères InvestissementsSycomore Factory and Weber Investissement. TechCrunch has more here.

Remitly, a five-year-old, Seattle-based remittance service, has raised $38.5 million in Series C funding led by Stripes Group, with participation from Vulcan Capital and earlier backers DFJ, DN Capital, Bezos ExpeditionsTrilogy Equity Partners, and several unnamed investors. The company has now raised $61 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

SparkCognition, a three-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based “cognitive” security analytics company, has raised $6 million in Series B funding from CME Ventures, Verizon Ventures and earlier backers The Entrepreneurs’ Fund and Alameda Ventures. More here.

StoryStream, a five-year-old, London-based content platform helps marketers combine user generated and brand content, has raised $2.6 million in Series A funding led by MMC Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Tado, a five-year-old, Munich, Germany-based maker of smart thermostat and AC control products, has raised $23 million in fresh funding  led by Inven Capital, the venture capital arm of the Čez Group, a multinational energy conglomerate based in the Czech Republic. The company has now raised $57 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

TranServ, a 5.5-year-old, Mumbai, India-based mobile payments company, has raised $15 million in Series C funding led by IDFC Spice Fund and Micromax Informatics, with participation from earlier backers Nirvana and Faering Capital India. TechCrunch has more here.

Trov, a four-year-old, Danville, Ca.-based on-demand insurance platform that lets users buy insurance for specific products for a specific amount of time, has raised $25.5 million in Series C funding led by Oak HC/FT, with participation from Suncorp Group, Guidewire, and earlier backers Anthemis Group. TechCrunch has more here.

UrbanStems, a two-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based on-demand flower delivery service, has raised $6.8 million in Series A funding led by SWaN & Legend Venture Partners, with investments from Middleland CapitalNextGen Venture Partners, Interplay Ventures, and Sagamore VenturesMore here.


New Funds

Finistere Ventures and the International Farming Corp. have teamed up to create an agriculture-focused venture capital fund called Willow Hill Ventures. More here.



The biggest IPO so far of this year could well be Red Rock Resort‘s upcoming offering on Friday, and brothers Fran and Lorenzo Fertitta, respectively CEO and director of the casino operator, stand to take home the jackpot. Bloomberg has more here.



Nokia, once the world’s biggest mobile phone maker, is now looking to build out its health technology business, acquiring Withings, a French company that makes  smart scales, activity trackers, and other health gadgets. Nokia is paying $192 million; Withings had raised just less than $34 million from investors, including from BPIFrance, Idinvest, Ventech and 360 Capital Partners. TechCrunch has more here.



New York-based Expa Studios has appointed Eric Friedman as general manager of its newly launched incubator arm Expa Labs, which will provide select companies with $500,000 in funding. Friedman formerly held biz dev positions at Foursquare, as well as worked as an analyst at Union Square Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Here’s how much interns make at Apple, Google and Facebook.



Health Catalyst Capital, a year-old venture firm, is looking to bring aboard a vice president. The job is in Manhattan.



According to Pitchbook, dating back to 2010, these five firms are the most active seed investors: SV Angel (with 242 seed fundings), Kima Ventures (215), Andreessen Horowitz (146), GV (135), and Lerer Hippeau Ventures (134).


Essential Reads

Tech company delistings could top IPOs this year, according to one M&A advisory firm.

Why Goldman Sachs is launching an online bank.



Clay Tarver, the co-executive producer of HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” on Dick Costolo: “I would hire him as a writer.”

MondriPong, the classiest video game ever.


Retail Therapy

Take a braincation with Melomind.

Filed Under:

Don’t Miss Out!

Sign up today to receive a free daily email with everything you need to start your day. Plus, keep track of the companies and personalities that will shape the industry in the months and years to come. Let StrictlyVC be your very own venture capital concierge.

StrictlyVC on Twitter