StrictlyVC: June 7, 2016

Hi, everyone! Happy Tuesday. We’re looking forward to seeing some of you tonight at an email newsletter discussion in San Francisco that features StrictlyVC, NextDraft, Nuzzel, and We’re also running off to a demo day in the city this morning; see some of you there, too, we hope.:)


Top News in the A.M.

Verizon is reportedly planning to submit a second-round bid of about $3 billion for Yahoo core internet business. The WSJ has more here.


A Startup That Pays Cash for Startups Now Offers a Money-Back Guarantee

Opendoor, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup is a swing-for-the fences type of bet during a time when the most ambitious startups are suddenly less fashionable than they once were.

That’s not crimping the company’s style. In fact, Opendoor, which is on a mission to make it simple to buy and sell houses online, just added another layer of uncertainty onto its big-risk, big-reward model.

The roughly 100-employee company currently buys homes sight unseen when a home seller visits its site, asks for a quote, and accepts Opendoor’s bid, which the company comes up with based on public market information about historical home sales and its own proprietary data about market conditions. (The company says its offers are typically one to three points below what the seller might fetch on the open market roughly three months into the future. That’s the average time required to sell a home in the U.S., it says.)

Starting today, it’s making two more bold promises. First, it will buy back a home if the new owner is unhappy with it. Specifically, if someone changes his or her mind for any reason, that person has 30 days to receive a full refund. More, Opendoor will provide each new buyer with a 180-point inspection report on the condition of their new home; if anything breaks in the first two years, it will fix it.

“We stand behind our homes,” says Eric Wu, CEO and co-founder of Opendoor. “Unlike a typical seller who is trying to hide information from [the seller], we’re fully transparent because we want our customers to be happy.”

Wu, who previously sold a startup to the real estate portal Trulia, cofounded Opendoor in March 2014 with three others: operator-investor Keith Rabois; Ian Wong, who formerly led data science at Square; and JD Ross, who oversaw product at the investment management platform Addepar.

Their plan from the outset was to use technology to flip homes, an idea that has garnered roughly $110 million from investors, including its biggest shareholder, Khosla Ventures.

Wu says Opendoor has also raised “hundreds of millions of dollars” in debt in order to carry the homes on its balance sheet while it works toward re-selling them.

In an interview yesterday, Wu declined to say how many homes have so far been bought or sold using the platform. But he did say that OpenDoor typically buys 10 houses a day across the two markets in which it’s currently operating: Phoenix and Dallas.

More here.


New Fundings

Bunker, a year-old, San Francisco-based insurance technology startup, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Comcast Ventures and Route 66 Ventures, with participation from insurance carriers Hiscox and American Family Ventures. More here.

Convercent, a 3.5-year-old, Denver-based company that makes enterprise compliance management software, has raised $11 million in Series C funding led by Tola Capital, with participation from Sapphire Ventures and other existing investors. More here.

CrowdFlower, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose platform enables users to create large-scale datasets for machine learning and data categorization, has raised $10 million in Series D funding led by Microsoft, with participation from Canvas Ventures and Trinity Ventures. The company has now raised a total of $38 million, according to CrunchBase. TechCrunch has more here.

DocPlanner, a 4.5-year-old, Warsaw-based online booking platform for healthcare appointments, has raised $20 million in Series C funding led by Target Global. Part of the round is being used to merge with the Spain-based company Doctoralia. TechCrunch has more here.

Greycork, a two-year-old, Providence, R.I.-based furniture brand whose products can ostensibly assembled and disassembled in less than 10 minutes, has raised $1 million in seed funding led by ff Venture Capital. BostInno hasmore here.

Helpshift, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based mobile help desk that helps software companies build a chat bridge between their mobile apps users and their customer service teams, has raised $23 million from Microsoft and Salesforce, along with previous investors Intel Capital, Nexus Venture Partners, True Ventures and Visionnaire Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Hibob, a year-old, London-based startup whose cloud platform helps companies manage employee perks, staff engagement, and employee enrollment in retirement savings plans, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from LocalGlobe and Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder and CEO of TransferWise. TechCrunch has more here.

iContainers, a nine-year-old, Barcelona, Spain-based freight forwarding company that provides online ocean and air quotes and bookings, has raised $6.7 million in new funding led by Serena Capital. The company has now raised $9 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Instabug, a three-year-old, Gizah, Egypt-based mobile bug app reporting service, has raised $1.7 million in seed funding led by Accel Partners, with participation from Cloudera cofounder Amr Awadallah and MoPub founder Jim Payne. TechCrunch has more here.

Jiff, a five-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based enterprise health benefits platform, has raised $17.7 million in Series C funding from undisclosed backers. Earlier investors in the company include GE Ventures, Venrock, Ooga LabsRosemark Capital, Aeris Capital and Aberdare Partners. More here.

Moogsoft, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based company that makes real-time IT operations analytics software, has raised $30 million in Series C funding from Northgate Capital, Singapore Technologies Telemedia, SingTel Innov8Cisco, Redpoint Ventures, Wing Venture Capital and HCL TechnologiesMore here.

SMS Assist, a 21-year-old, Chicago-based company that makes property management software, has raised $150 million in Series D funding from Goldman Sachs Investment Partners with participation from earlier backers Insight Venture Partners and Pritzker Group Venture Capital. More here.

Zimperium, a nearly six-year-old,  San Francisco-based mobile threat management platform, has raised $25 million in Series C funding led byWarburg Pincus, with participation from earlier investors Sierra VenturesTelstra Ventures, and Lazarus Israel Opportunities Fund. More here.


New Funds

Initialized Capital, a nearly three-year-old, New York-based venture firm that was founded by former YC partner Gary Tan, Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, and Triblebyte cofounder and CEO Harjeet Taggar, is raising up to $100 million for its third fund, shows an SEC filing that also lists Alina Libova (and does not list Taggar). Libova is a former Facebook engineer who has been working as an investor with a Palo Alto-based investment group called the Tamares Group.



Media company E.W. Scripps is continuing its push into podcasting, buying Stitcher for $4.5 million in cash. Scripps purchased Stitcher from Deezer, the French streaming company that acquired the service in 2014. A WSJ source characterizes the transaction as a small “acquihire.” Before its acquisition by Deezer, Stitcher had raised about $25 million in funding. More here.



Troy Carter has confirmed yesterday’s report from Hits Daily Double that he’s now going to work for Spotify as Global Head of Creator Services. Carter is best known for being Lady Gaga’s longtime manager; his hire is seemingly designed to compete with the star power of Jimmy Iovine at Apple and Jay Z at Tidal.

Four Cisco execs who created some of the company’s biggest hit products are resigning over an apparent disagreement with a recent reorganization. The WSJ has the story here.

Twitter is replacing its head of product again. Recode has the story here.


Essential Reads

Now Facebook wants to dominate the video game streaming business. More here.

Bendable phone screens may be coming.

Behind the scenes of the Code conference, where “billionaires dream of space while the media looks to the stars.”



Muhammad Ali at the ballgame.

A poor man’s “Game of Thrones” intro.

One way to get better at witty comebacks.


Retail Therapy

This is what a $40 million Caribbean beach house looks like.

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