StrictlyVC: July 7, 2016

It’s Thursday, woot!


Top News in the A.M.

Apple just dropped to fifth place in China’s smartphone market.


(Some) LPs Speak Up

Venture capital used to be such an insular, under-the-radar industry that entrepreneur-investor Marc Andreessen has said that he’d never heard the term before arriving in the Bay Area in 1994. He’s hardly alone. It wasn’t until the mid- to late-1990s, during the boom, that the world became acquainted with what venture capitalists do. And it wasn’t until after venture capitalists Fred Wilson and Brad Feld began publishing insights about their work roughly 12 years ago that the art of VC blogging began to border on competitive sport.

The exercise has paid off for many investors. Among those to actively raise their profiles (and presumably, increase their deal flow) through blogging are Jason Lemkin, whose new venture fund we covered here; Hunter Walk of Homebrew; and Mark Suster of Upfront Ventures. (CB Insights has a longer rundown of VC bloggers here.)

Institutional investors, the money behind the VCs’ money, have not followed suit, though there’s reason to think the industry is thinking more about outreach at long last. Indeed, though these limited partners (LPs) have largely remained mum, not sharing much about their selection process, not blogging, and not talking publicly with reporters, a few signals suggest a change may be afoot, including recent feedback from one investor from a mid-size university endowment, who recently shared on background that he’s been asked to raise his profile.

The reason, simply: competition. As you may have noticed, a smaller group of so-called top-tier venture funds now manages more of the money flowing into venture capital than ever before. Still, these firms can only responsibly manage so much, which puts pressure on LPs who want stakes in those venture funds.

Perhaps because of uncertainty about the market, LPs are also less interested in brand-new funds right now than in the second or third funds of micro-venture firms that are starting to prove themselves. Forerunner Ventures, which has tripled the amount of money it is managing in the last four years, is just the latest example. These managers, too, can only make room for so many LPs.

Then there’s foreign money. More specifically, there’s more of it than ever to compete with. Take Peakview,  which is the investment advisory arm of Shengjing Group and the largest global fund of funds in China. Its U.S.-based managing partner told this reporter in March that Peakview has millions of dollars to invest in U.S. venture firms. To curry favor with them, it’s promising to help their portfolio companies bridge networking gaps between the U.S. and China.

More here.


New Fundings

BevSpot, a two-year-old, Boston-based software platform that enables mobile bar management, has raised $11 million in Series B funding led by earlier backer Bain Capital Ventures. The company has now raised $19 million altogether. BostInno has more here.

Black Swan Data, a five-year-old, London-based data science startup that analyzes consumer behavior using public and private data, has raised £6.2 million ($8 million) in Series B funding led by Albion Ventures, with participation from Blackstone and Mitsui. TechCrunch has more here., a four-year-old, Wildau, Germany-based online business that sells its own eyewear, has raised €45 million ($49 million) in its first round of funding from Technology Crossover Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Light, a three-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based computational photography startup, has raised $30 million in Series C funding led by GV. Forbes has more here.

NextVR, a six-year-old, Laguna Beach, Ca.-based startup that develops and delivers video capture technology for live and recorded experience, has raised $20 million from a Chinese investment firm as a part of an upcoming Series B raise. The money is reportedly a quarter of the Series B round; Variety reported earlier this week that the company is looking to raise $80 million altogether, at an $800 million valuation. More here.

Pixie, a five-year-old, Los Altos, Ca.-based company whose guitar-pick-like bluetooth beacons make it harder for users to lose their stuff, is raising a $25 million round of funding, according to a new SEC form that shows it has raised $16.6 million toward that end. According to CrunchBase, the company previously raised $6 million from investors, including Spark Capital and Cedar Fund. The Verge wrote about the company last year.

Post-Quantum, a seven-year-old, U.K.-based company that has developed an encryption system designed to safeguard quantum computers from hackers, has raised £8 million ($10.3 million) in Series A funding from VMS Investment Group and AM Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Yuntongxun, a three-year-old, Beijing, China-based corporate cloud communications service company, has raised $70 million in Series C funding led by earlier backer Sequoia Capital, with participation from TBP Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Zingle, a six-year-old, Carlsbad, Ca.-based platform that enables businesses to communicate with customers via texting and other mobile messaging channels, has raised $3 million in equity, shows an SEC filing. Tnooz reported this past spring that the startup recently landed Hyatt as a client. More here.



Security giant Avast is acquiring fellow Czech-based antivirus software makerAVG for $25 per share in cash, in a transaction that will total around $1.3 billion. TechCrunch has more here.



Android co-creator and longtime GV general partner Rich Miner is leaving the investing unit to launch an education-focused company within Google, reports Fortune. Miner says he doesn’t know exactly what he’s building yet but it sounds like he already has the “big vision” of it in mind. A GV spokeswoman wrote us separately that though Miner will no longer be leading any deals for GV, he will “remain active with many of his board commitments.”

Elon Musk is still duking it out with Fortune over whether Telsa should have disclosed sooner an investigation into a crash involving one of its cars. (See our column yesterday if you’re coming to this story late.)

In a blog post this morning, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that long-time COO Kevin Turner is leaving after 11 years at the company. Meanwhile, Citadel Securities has announced this morning that Turner is joining as CEO. TechCrunch has more here.


Essential Reads

Germany’s digital entrepreneurs are not only convinced that London is finished but also believe they are poised to wrest its crown as Europe’s fintech center. The Financial Times has more here.

Erm. Whoever acquires Yahoo might have to pay Mozilla annual payments of $375 million through 2019 if it doesn’t think the buyer is one it wants to work with. Recode has the story here.



What becomes of the brokenhearted’s stuff.

Twenty beautiful modern staircases.

The rise of hip-hop producer Mike Will.


Retail Therapy

BikeBlock. So simple, a monkey could use it.

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