StrictlyVC: June 22, 2016

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Quick mention for the founders out there. TechCrunch is hosting its signature Disrupt conference in San Francisco in September. We’re helping out behind the scenes and want to remind you that TC’s “Startup Battlefield” competition is a big part of the production and that applications are open through July 5. It’s definitely worth considering. To date, 610 contestants have gone on to raise a collective $6.1 billion from investors, and 76 of those startups have either been acquired or gone public. If you have questions, probably best not to ask us (we only know so much), but will happily help you.

Also, thanks to those of you who signed up yesterday for our event in September.:)


Top News in the A.M.

Elon Musk plans to combine two of his companies: SolarCity and Tesla. The deal is worth an estimated $2.5 billion to $3 billion. Much more here.


The Muse Raises $16 Million for Its Next-Gen Career Site

The Muse, a New York-based career site that offers job opportunities, skill-building courses, coaching, and video profiles meant to show what it’s like to work at different companies, has raised $16 million in Series B funding led by Icon Ventures. Earlier backers Aspect Ventures, DBL Partners and QED Investors also joined the round, which brings funding for the 4.5-year-old startup to $28.7 million.

Co-founder and CEO Kathryn Minshew says that platform’s users are largely women — 65 percent of them, in fact — with 50 percent of users below age 30, another quarter of them in their 30s, and the rest age 40 and over. That’s apparently been good for business. “When women find The Muse,” says Minshew, “they’ll come back and tell us, ‘We told 15 people,’” about the platform.

What’s also good for business is LinkedIn’s announced sale last week to Microsoft for a stunning $26.2 billion, says Minshew. We talked yesterday about why the acquisition bodes well for The Muse, as well as what the company is building right now that could double its size.

You founded the Muse with two other women, Alex Cavoulacos and Melissa McCreery, with whom you worked at McKinsey. Cavoulacos is COO but McCreery is no longer with the company. What happened?

She’s an advisor and a current PhD student at [University of California San Francisco] studying cancer biology. Whenever I come up to SF, I usually stay with her.

The Muse has a variety of revenue streams, but the biggest is recruiting. How many companies are listing jobs and corporate profiles on the site at this point?

We’re in the high 500s, with everything from smaller businesses to Fortune 1000 companies using the platform. In finance, there’s Vanguard, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs. In travel and hospitality, there’s Marriott. We have The Gap in retail; HBO, Conde Nast, Bloomberg and Hearst in media; and insurance companies like Geico and Aflac.

You also do content marketing, letting sponsors basically give your users recommendations around career-related products and services. How big a business is that?

It makes up a small but growing part of our model — probably high single digits to low double digits. We grew revenue last year by 5x, and sponsored content probably grew by the same percentage. Deloitte, for example,  sponsored an article about how to go from a military to a civilian career that was authored by an employee of theirs who has done it.

Much more here.


New Fundings

128 Technology, a two-year-old, Burlington, Ma.-based startup whose software aims to simplify routers, has raised $36 million from investors, including G20 Ventures, company employees, and other unnamed backers. SDX Central has more here.

AppZen, a 3.5-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based company that makes automated expense report auditing and compliance software, has raised $2.9 million in seed funding led by Resolute Ventures, with participation from Bloomberg Beta, Silicon Valley Bank, MasterCard, and FundersClub. More here.

GamEffective, a nearly four-year-old, Charlotte, N.C.-based company that makes workforce performance management software, has raised $7 million in new funding from Jerusalem Venture Partners, CE Ventures and earlier backers. VentureBeat has more here., a Palo Alto and Tel Aviv-based SaaS company focused on “sales conversion intelligence,” has raised $6 million in Series A funding led byNorwest Venture Partners and Check Point Software cofounder Shlomo Kramer. More here.

Iggbo, a year-old, Richmond, Va.-based company that employs 8,000 phlebotomists to draw blood on demand wherever patients are (at home, at work, or in their doctor’s office), just raised $13 million in funding led by Heritage Group. MedCity News has more here.

Kaola FM, a China-based audio program network that delivers content around news, finance, entertainment, cars and audio books and is run by China’s AutoRadio Group, has raised $26 million from Legend Capital and other unnamed investors, reports China Money Network. More here.

Kespry, a three-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based company that makes automated drone systems for commercial use, has raised $16 million in Series B funding led by DCM Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from Spectrum 28, H. Barton Asset ManagementRothenberg Ventures, and Wilson Sonsini. More here.

Kwik, a three-year-old, Tel Aviv-based end-to-end IoT platform that connects customers to retailers and service providers, has raised $3 million in seed funding from Norwest Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

LightCyber, a four-year-old Tel Aviv, Israel-based cybersecurity company, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Access Industries, with participation from earlier backers Battery Ventures, Glilot Capital Partners and Amplify Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Lystable, a 1.5-year-old London-based company that makes a software tool focused on helping businesses manage freelancers, has raised $11 million in Series A funding led by Valar Ventures and Goldcrest Capital, with participation from Spring Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Pearl, a months-old, Scotts Valley, Ca.-based company that’s working on autonomous vehicle technologies and just unveiled its first product  —  an advanced automotive backup camera — has raised $50 million in Series A and Series B funding, including from Accel Partners, Shasta Ventures, Venrock, and Wellcome Trust. According to the Santa Cruz Tech Beat, 53 of the company’s 74 current employees worked previously at Apple. More here.

PediaQ, a year-old, Dallas, Tex.-based pediatric concierge care startup (parents use the app to request a call or in-home visit from a nurse practitioner), has raised $4.5 million from unnamed Texas investors, according to the company. MedCity News has more here.

UrWork, a year-old, China-based co-working space operator modeled after WeWork in the U.S., has raised $46 million from investors, including the Chinese commercial property developer Yintai Land and Zhongrong International Trust Co. The round follows a separate round of $31 million that the company closed just three months ago. China Money Network has more here.


New Funds

DFJ Growth, the 10-year-old growth-stage arm of the 30-year-old Sand Hill Road firm, is raising a new $500 million fund, suggests an SEC filing first flagged by Fortune. The timing fits the narrative of many Silicon Valley venture firms that have been returning to their LPs in two years’ time, rather than a more traditional three or four years. Indeed, the firm raised its last growth fund, a $470 million pool, in May of 2014. More here.

Female Founders Fund, a three-year-old, New York-based seed stage fund, is looking to raise up to $30 million for its second fund, according to an SEC filing that states the first sale has yet to occur. More here.



Verizon is acquiring the telematics startup Telogis. The 15-year-old, Aliso Viejo, Ca.-based software company had raised roughly $126 million from investors, shows CrunchBase. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.

Verve, an 11-year-old, New York-based location-based mobile marketing platform, has acquired Roximity, a Denver-based maker of location-based beacon software and hardware for retailers and venues. Verve has raised around $36 million from investors, shows CrunchBase. Roximity had raised about $2.6 million. SoCal Tech has a little more here.



Scott Aronson is joining Greylock Partners as an executive-in-residence. Aronson was most recently a senior VP at the software and services company Pivotal. He also spent a couple of years at VMWare as a senior VP. More here.

Amit Kumar and Nate Niparko have joined Accel Partners in the U.S. as principals. Kumar most recently led engineering for numerous commerce and customer service initiatives at Twitter after his company, Cardspring, was acquired in 2014. Niparko is rejoining the firm later this summer; he most recently spent time at Amazon Web Services as a product manager, as well as nabbed an MBA from Stanford. Kumar focuses on consumer-oriented early-stage deals; Niparko will be focused on growth-stage enterprise software and infrastructure tech companies. More here.

Lockheed Martin has hired Christopher Moran for the newly created role of executive director and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures. Moran was previously a general manager at Applied Ventures and held earlier roles at Atari and Hughes Aircraft. More here.



Adobe is looking for a senior corporate development manager. The job is in San Jose, Ca.

Fitbit is looking for a director of corporate development. The job is in San Francisco.

IAC is looking to add an associate director to its M&A group. The job is in New York.


Essential Reads

Headphone jacks are the new floppy drives, apparently.

Lawsuits are continuing to pile up against Theranos, with one Bay Area firm filing a proposed class action on behalf of all consumers who purchased a Theranos lab test back to 2013. In May, Theranos disclosed that it was forced to void thousands of blood tests because the results were unreliable. The Recorder has more here.

Europe’s growing army of robot workers could be classed as “electronic persons” and their owners liable to paying social security for them if the European Union adopts a draft plan to address the new industrial revolution. Reuters has the story here.

We told you last week that a 30,000-member Facebook group recently formed in Austin, Tex., to help facilitate ride requests in the absence of Uber and Lyft. Now, the city has targeted drivers in a sting operation for driving without appropriate documentation.



An incredible sculpture of the Night King from “Game of Thrones” — made of watermelon.

Queen Elizabeth wore a “green screen” outfit in recent pictures, and the internet has gone to town with it.


Retail Therapy

Hah. Egg Monster Bread Cutter.

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