StrictlyVC: June 29, 2016

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Top News in the A.M.

Facebook just changed its news feed algorithm to promote posts by users’ friends over content posted by publishers.


Russell Simmons’s All Def Digital Lands $10 Million Series B

All Def Digital (ADD), a three-year-old, L.A.-based web video platform and media company that was cofounded by hip hop impresario Russell Simmons, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Third Wave Digital Partners.

Other investors in the round include WPP Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and earlier investors Nu Horizons, Greycroft Partners, eVentures and Advancit Capital.

The company has now raised $18 million altogether.

ADD manages up-and-coming social video stars, writers, actors and hip hop artists. The company also produces and distributes its own original content through its own media properties, as well as via TV, movies, social channels, live events and, increasingly, via brand partnerships.

Indeed, Simmons also recently launched an in-house creative agency called ADHD that intends to help advertisers appeal to the same audience that ADD is targeting —  which is younger people with shorter attention spans, as Simmonstold AdWeek back in April.

As Simmons explained it at the time, “No one really understands this audience. It’s multiracial, but singularly cultural. It started out 95 percent black, and now it’s 45 percent non-black, and that’s going to keep growing . . . The audience we speak to is overlooked and underserved. A lot of the content Hollywood creates doesn’t serve this audience. . . ”

More here.


New Fundings

Airbnb, the nearly eight-year-old, San Francisco-based temporary housing marketplace, is in talks for a new round of investment that would value the company at about $30 billion, says the New York Times. That’s three times what Airbnb’s valuation was two years ago. More here.

Ancera, a five-year-old, Branford, Cn.-based company whose tech enables food producers to detect contaminants faster than other methods, has raised $8.9 million in Series A funding from Glass Capital Management, which is a Florida-based family fund; corporate strategic backers Packers Sanitation Services and Metabiota; and other unnamed investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Compass, a 4.5-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that had previously raised $3 million from investors for its business monitoring and intelligence service, is now zeroing in on a new e-commerce analytics software product. Toward that end, the company just raised $1 million in seed funding from earlier backers New Enterprise Associates, PROfounders, and longtime VC Allen Morgan, who were joined by former Thomson Reuters CEO Tom Glocer.More here.

Flip, a year-old, New York-based online marketplace that helps tenants find someone to take over their lease, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding. Investors include Joanne Wilson, Scott Belsky, Techstars Ventures, Built by Girls Ventures, V1 Ventures and MetaProp NYC.

Keen IO, a 4.5-year-old, San Francisco-based fully managed cloud API that helps developers build custom analytics and data science features directly into their web, mobile, or IoT apps, has raised $14.7 million in Series B funding led by Pelion Venture Partners. Other participants in the round include Rincon Venture Partners, Amplify Partners, and Rothenberg Ventures, along with earlier investors Sequoia Capital, Techstars, 500 Startups, Heavybit, and Galvanize Ventures. More here.

NeuroVision Imaging, a 5.5-year-old, Sacramento, Ca.-based company whose retinal imaging technology aims to help in the early detection and monitoring of amyloid pathology related to Alzheimer’s disease, has raised $5 million in Series B funding. Wildcat Capital Management, the family office of TPG co-founder David Bonderman, led the financing. A portion of the round has been reserved for strategic investors. More here.

PredictSpring, a three-year-old, Los Altos, Ca.-based startup that helps brands and retailers build mobile apps, has raised $11.4 million in Series A funding led by Felicis Ventures, with participation from Benvolio Group and earlier investors Beanstalk Ventures and Novel TMT Ventures. TechCrunch hasmore here.

Progyny, a year-old, New York-based digital healthcare company specializing in fertility services, has raised $14.7 million in Series B funding. Investors include TPG, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Union Grove Venture Partners, Mellon Ventures and SR One. New York Business Journal has more here.

Scoot Networks, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based company that operates a smartphone-activated electric scooter network, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Mahindra Partners and Vision Ridge Capital, with participation from earlier backers. The company had previously raised $4.5 million, shows CrunchBase. More here.

Tempo Automation, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based prototype manufacturer, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Lux Capital, with participation from SoftTech VC, AME, and Bolt. TechCrunch has more here.

what3words, a three-year-old, London-based startup behind a universal postcode/zip code alternative aimed at simplifying location sharing, has raised $8.5 million in Series B funding led by logistics company Aramex. Other participants in the round include Force Over Mass Capital, Mustard Seed and Intel Capital. TechCrunch has more here.



LINE, whose messaging app has gone mainstream in Japan, Thailand and Taiwan, has set a price range for an initial public offering on the Tokyo and New York Stock exchanges next month. TechCrunch has more here.

Sungevity, a major U.S. provider of rooftop solar panels, plans to merge with an asset management firm to become a publicly traded company, the company announced earlier today. Sungevity had raised roughly $900 million from investors, shows CrunchBase. Dealbook has more here.



Theranos spokesperson Brooke Buchanan left the company on Friday. No word on what happened, though we can certainly take a guess. Buchanan was reportedly the only person handling public relations for the beleaguered blood diagnostics company.

Matthew Goldstein, who spent the last three years as a principal at Trinity Ventures, is helping to launch Microsoft Ventures at the end of this month as a partner. More on that new unit here.

An investor group called on Tesla yesterday to add two independent directors to its board and separate the roles of chairman and CEO as it highlighted founder and CEO Elon Musk‘s dominance of the board in the wake of Tesla’s proposed bid for SolarCity. Reuters has more here.

How billionaire George Soros profited from Brexit’s “Black Friday.”


Essential Reads

Uber has developed new technology to track when drivers of the ride-hailing app go too fast, cut corners or brake harshly by monitoring the sensors in their smartphones. It could raise privacy concerns, though. The WSJ has the story here.

These gene-editing technology will change the world, but who gets the credit?



How exercise shapes you, far beyond the gym.

A virtual reality startup aimed at the elderly.

Stare down!


Retail Therapy

Coming soon: Yeezy stores.

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