StrictlyVC: June 2, 2016

Hi, everyone, happy Thursday!


Top News in the A.M.

The payday loan industry could soon be gutted by a set of rules that federal regulators plan to unveil today. More here.

Snapchat just passed Twitter in terms of daily active users, says Bloomberg. More here.


TheSkimm Lands $8 Million in Series B Funding Led by 21st Century Fox

Newsletter startup theSkimm has raised $8 million in Series B funding from what looks to be a very strategic investor: 21st Century Fox, which was joined by earlier backers RRE Ventures, Homebrew and Greycroft Partners.

If you’re wondering what a newsletter might have in common with a global TV and film giant, the answer centers on theSkimm’s ambitions.

To date, the four-year-old, New York-based outfit has been steadily building up its readership of largely female millennials. In fact, at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York last month, theSkimm co-founders (and former NBC producers) Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin told the audience that the newsletter now has 3.5 million subscribers worldwide.

Those readers are getting theSkimm’s content — akin to a CliffsNotes of important news events — at no cost. To generate revenue, the 20-person company says it makes money through product endorsements and native advertising, both of which it says it’s transparent about.

It also hopes to make money through a new calendar service that asks subscribers to pay $2.99 a month to be kept abreast of happenings from social events to new feature releases on Netflix. (Launched recently, Weisberg and Zakin aren’t talking yet about how many people have signed up for a subscription.)

More here.


New Fundings

AccuraGen, a three-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based liquid biopsy startup, has raised $40 million in Series B funding from Junson Capital, Temasek investments, DT Capital, Stanford-StartX Fund, and Nan Fung Capital. Earlier investors Decheng Capital, Denlux Capital, Yifang Group Holdings, and WS Investment also joined the round. More here.

Blued, a four-year-old, China-based gay social networking mobile app, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series C funding from Ventech and Vision Knight Capital in a financing that reportedly values the company at more than $300 million. China Money Network has more here.

Digit, a year-old, San Francisco-based company whose software monitors cash flow into a user’s checking account and diverts small amounts into savings (users can save more or less via text message prompts), has raised $22.5 million in Series B funding led by Ribbit Capital, with participation from earlier backers Baseline Ventures, General Catalyst Partners, and GV. The company has now raised $36 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Droom, a two-year-old, Gurgaon, India-based online marketplace for secondhand vehicles, has reportedly raised between $25 million and $30 million in Series B funding from Beenext and Digital Garage, with participation from earlier backers Lightbox and Beenos Partners. The round closed with a post-money valuation of more than $200 million, says TechCrunch. More here.

EarlySense, a 12-year-old, Ramat Gan, Israel-based company that makes continuous monitoring tech that supports remote patient monitoring, has raised $25 million in Series G funding led by Israel’s largest bank, Bank Hapoalim. Other participants in the round include Pitango Venture Capital, JK&B Capital and other previous (unnamed) investors. MedCity News has more here.

LinkBee, a year-old, New York-based stealthy IoT hardware startup, has raised $6 million in seed funding co-led by Pegasus Capital Advisors and Loeb Enterprises. More here.

Luxury Garage Sale, a 5.5-year-old, Chicago-based upscale consignment service, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Data Point Capital, with participation from Chicago Ventures, Hyde Park Angels, Pallasite Ventures and individual angels. More here.

Notion, a three-year-old, Denver-based connected home startup, has raised $3.2 million in seed funding led by XL Innovation, with participation from Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures. The company has now raised $5.7 million dollars altogether. More here.

RubiconMD, a three-year-old, New York-based online medical consulting platform for primary care providers, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by Waterline Ventures, with participation from Dioko Health Ventures and Alma Mundi Fund. More here.

Tile, a 3.5-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based company that makes a bluetooth tracking device and app to enable users to find valuable items, like their keys or phone, has raised $18 million in new funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers GGV Capital, Khosla Ventures, Tandem and Tencent Holdings. TechCrunch has more here.

Tenjin, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based mobile marketing infrastructure company, has raised a fresh $2.5 million in funding led by NetEase Capital, the venture arm of the NASDAQ-listed Chinese Internet company NetEase, with participation from angel investors Herman Yang and Waikit Lau. More here.

Uber, the seven-year-old, San Francisco-based ride-sharing giant, has raised a fresh $3.5 billion from Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia’s main investment fund; the capital is part of its latest investment round and the largest to date for Uber. It brings the total amount of both cash and debt that the company has raised to date to more than $11 billion. Reportedly, its valuation of $62.5 billion remains unchanged. More here.

uSens, a three-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based company that’s developing hand-and-head tracking technologies for augmented and virtual reality, has raised $20 million in Series A funding led by Fosun Kinzon Capital. More here.

Verto Analytics, a three-year-old, New York and Helsinki-based audience measurement company, has raised $16.1 million in Series B funding led by EQT Ventures,  with participation from Vision+, Finnish Industry Investment, and earlier backers Conor Venture Partners and Open Ocean Capital. The company has now raised $23.9 million altogether.



On-demand auto-rickshaw aggregator Jugnoo, based in Chandigarh, India, has acquired fellow Indian startup SubKuchFresh for an undisclosed amount to strengthen its recently launched grocery delivery service, Fatafat. SabKuchFresh is an online fruits and vegetables marketplace with ties to more than 100 farmers. LiveMint has more here.

The publicly traded oftware services provider ServiceNow has agreed to acquire BrightPoint Security, a San Mateo, Ca.-based cyberthreat intelligence platform, for an undisclosed amount. BrightPoint had raised more than $8 million in funding, shows CrunchBase. Its backers include Aligned PartnersEMC Ventures, and Founder Collective, among others.



Ifty Ahmed, a former general partner at Oak Investment Partners, was indicted yesterday for engaging in a separate scheme to embezzle $54 million from Oak. Ahmed had already fled the U.S. last year after being hit with criminal insider trading charges. Now prosecutors say Ahmed, 44, also submitting false invoices, overstated prices of business deals he orchestrated, and set up fraudulent bank accounts over the course of roughly a decade in order to buy a $9.6 million residence in Greenwich, Connecticut, and a luxury New York condo for about $8.6 million. Much more here.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich was planning to hold a fund-raiser for Donald Trump tonight night at his Atherton, Ca. The company abruptly canceled that event, though. More here.

In a conference appearance last night, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he doesn’t think Google will compete with it on self-driving cars, but that Apple might.

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, said yesterday at the Code conference that Peter Thiel will remain on the company’s board of directors despite the controversy surrounding his involvement in a lawsuit against Gawker. More here.


Essential Reads

The National Labor Relations Board complaint lodged against Google and Nest recently by a former Nest employee has raised the prospect that tech firms could be forced to change confidentiality rules to allow employees to talk publicly about working conditions. The employee says he was fired for uploading memes about Nest CEO Tony Fadell on a private Facebook group. Meanwhile, Google’s Data Classification Guidelines prohibit employees from discussing with outsiders anything that happens at the company, which labor attorneys say could be illegal. The Information has the story here. (Sub. required.)

Didi, China’s biggest ride-hailing company — and the recent recipient of a $1 billion investment from Apple — says it books four times the number of daily rides as the entire U.S. market. And it’s just reaching a tiny slice of Chinese consumers.

China is stepping up its investment in Hollywood.



How to earn $250 an hour in the gig economy.

How good are you at recognizing familiar faces?

Light Rider.


Retail Therapy

Man bun in Carson shirt.

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