StrictlyVC: July 18, 2016

Hi, good Monday morning!

Quick reminder that Semil Shah is at bat for the next couple of weeks while Connie is offline, taking a woodworking course. (Today’s project, we’re told, is stilts.) To reach Semil, you can find him here.


Top News in the A.M.

Arm Holdings, a Cambridge, U.K. -based company known for its chip designs for mobile handsets, as well as for processors to power hardware in Internet of Things networks, is being acquired by Softbank Group for £24.3 billion ($32 billion) in cash. That’s a 40 percent premium over the company’s closing price on Friday and the biggest-ever deal involving a European tech company. It’s the IoT piece that interests Softbank the most, Softbank said. TechCrunch has more here.


Quick Chat with USV’s Andy Weissman

Roughly five years ago, Andy Weissman was recruited from the startup studio that he’d cofounded — Betaworks — to join the influential, New York-based venture firm Union Square Ventures as a partner. Just last month, Weissman was officially named one of its key men, too.

We caught up with him last week to ask whether and how that changes USV going forward.

Your firm, USV, recently pulled off a “changing of the guard” in terms of leadership, with you and Albert Wenger now leading. Has any part of the transition changed your point of view or style in investing and, if so, how so?

Because USV is thesis driven, the transition has resulted in only a few changes at the firm, and those are management wise, not investing-wise. [We have the] same five investing partners, the same emphasis on creating a peer network out of the people and companies in the portfolio, and, to answer your question directly, the same point of view and investing styles [as before].

When I think of contrarian concepts in VC, Bitcoin and blockchain come to mind. After the first few years of fervor die down, how does the USV team and network maintain conviction and a long-term view, particularly given the 24-hour nature of VC today?

The way we really maintain conviction is by creating and constantly working on a framework for investing. That framework has a few components. One is a focus on stage. Another is [maintaining the same-size] funds and one office location. A third is our style of making decisions, which is conversational/consensus driven. And the last is by publishing and constantly refining our thesis.

USV is known to invest regardless of location, especially in Europe. Besides Berlin and Sweden, what other emerging pockets of entrepreneurship do you see bubbling up in Europe? Will USV ever invest in Asia?

The last couple of years, we’ve invested in companies founded in Helsinki, Tallin/Estonia and Paris. We’d probably have a harder time investing in Asia given the relatively small nature of USV.

What’s more important over the next 10 years, technology or networks and why?

Come on dude, this is USV, you know the answer. All joking aside, we continue to focus on the applications layer of the internet — the layer that sits on top of the relatively open and robust infrastructure of the internet, the infrastructure that allows for permissionless connectivity. And we continue to believe there are numerous additional opportunities to create new kinds of networks.

In the context of early-stage investing, what’s something that you believe that isn’t necessarily a widely embraced point of view?

That in the context of growing your business, who you choose as an investor is a lot less important that otherwise might be popularly held.


New Fundings

Azalea Health, an eight-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based company that makes revenue cycle software for healthcare practices, has raised $10.5 million in Series B funding led by Kayne Partners, with participation from earlier backer Intersouth Partners. More here.

Civil Maps, a two-year-old,  Albany, Ca.-based startup that makes 3D mapping technology for fully autonomous vehicles, has raised $6.6 million in seed funding led by Motus Ventures, with participation from Ford Motor Co.,Wicklow Capital, StartX Stanford and AME Cloud Ventures.

Lifesum, an eight-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based digital health startup, has raised $10 million in fresh funding led by Nokia Growth Partners, with participation from Draper Esprit, Bauer Media Group and SparkLabs Global Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Magnetic Insight, a two-year-old, Alameda, Calif.-based diagnostic imaging startup, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Sand Hill Angels, with participation from Stanford StartX Fund. More here.

Modo Labs, a six-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based mobile engagement platform that helps its customers create campus apps, has raised $10 million in Series B funding from Education Growth Partners, Storm Ventures, and New Magellan Ventures. More here.

ZestFinance, a six-year-old, L.A.-based startup that blends machine learning with big data analysis to pinpoint more accurate credit scores, has received an undisclosed amount of funding from the Chinese search juggernaut Baidu. Fortune has more here.


New Funds

Thrive Capital, a New York-based, stage-agnostic venture fund that focuses primarily on media and internet investments, has closed its fifth fund with $700 million. The seven-year-old outfit is now managing a little less than $1.5 billion altogether. TechCrunch has more here.



Immediately, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that built mobile sales tools, will be shutting down at the end of the month, while part of the team will move on to cloud-monitoring company New Relic. According to CrunchBase, Immediately had raised $2.6 million from investors, including Streamlined Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.



Amazon founder Jeff Bezos got to live out every Trekkie’s fantasy; he plays an alien in the new Star Trek movie, says the Hollywood Reporter.

Hillary Clinton has amassed a spate of Silicon Valley stars to help with her campaign. Wired takes a look here.


Essential Reads

Tesla Motors is making changes that aim to help its Autopilot technology “see” more effectively in rain, snow, and bright sunlight. Fortune has more here.



Donald Trump’s ghostwriter tells all.

Over the weekend, “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert made an unexpected evening appearance at the Republican National Convention.

Is full-time work bad for our brains?


Retail Therapy

Meteor illuminated benches for your summer soiree.

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