StrictlyVC: July 19, 2016

Happy Tuesday!

Quick reminder: On Thursday, September 29, on the top floor of SurveyMonkey’s Palo Alto offices, StrictlyVC is hosting our fifth and newest INSIDER event, featuring VC Marc Andreessen, SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie, and a surprise guest (to be announced!). There are only about 20 seats left at this point and we can’t accommodate you once they’re gone. (We’ve already been told that SurveyMonkey’s security guard will kindly point you back out the door owing to space constraints.)

Giant thanks to our partners in the event, who make these nights possible: Ballou PR, which helps startups and VCs establish themselves in Europe; Mattermark, which collects and analyzes data on private market funding and more; and Bolt, an early-stage venture firm focused on hardware startups.


Top News in the A.M.

Surprise? Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer provided no updates on the sale process yesterday during Yahoo’s quarterly earnings report.

Meanwhile, Netflix revealed that subscriber growth has stalled.


Line, the Messaging App, Has Quietly Funded at Least Nine Startups

Line, the popular Japanese messaging service that went public last week on both the NYSE and in Japan, partnered on a fund a couple of years ago with the New York-based venture firm Collaborative Fund in order to gain more of a foothold in the U.S.

According to a Dealbook story that announced the pairing, the fund planned to invest less than $10 million and to focus on very early-stage startups. If all went as planned, it would also hopefully help Line find a way to compete with the likes of popular U.S. messaging services like Snapchat.

Fast forward to today, and that fund, called simply Collab+Line, has so far invested in nine companies, all of which can “benefit from working with a mobile messenger and/or have aspirations to expand to Asia,” says Craig Shapiro, Collaborative Fund’s CEO.

Its areas of focus include media, IoT, commerce, communications, and community.

Collaborative Fund is the sole manager of the fund, but it works closely with Line to “ensure there is an alignment of interests,” says Shapiro. In fact, Shapiro had told Dealbook for its story that by investing in start-ups through Collab+Line, Line could get close to U.S. startups and potentially even acquire them.

Asked if that’s still the idea, Shapiro tells us he “can’t comment.” Still, given Line’s new resources — its market cap is currently around $7 billion — some of its portfolio companies may be wondering.

Some of Collab+Line’s bets to date include the live social video network YouNow (five years old, based in New York, has raised $26 million); Particle, a prototype-to-production platform for developing IoT products (nearly five years old, based in San Francisco, has raised $4.2 million ); Slash, an iPhone keyboard that makes it easy to share things without switching apps (a year old, New York based, has raised $1.4 million); and Zendrive, a startup that uses smartphone sensors to measure drivers’ behavior (three years old, San Francisco based, has raised $15 million).

More here.


New Fundings

Blue Cedar Networks, a months-old, San Francisco-based maker of app security software, has raised $10 million in Series A funding from Accelerate IT Ventures, Benhamou Global Ventures, Grayhawk Capital, andGeneration Ventures. More here.

Cadenza Innovation, a 3.5-year-old, Oxford, Ct.-based battery technology company, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Golden Seeds, with participation from Connecticut Innovations, Scale Investors, and numerous individual investors, including Summit Power Group co-chair Eric Redman.More here.

Cambridge Medical Robotics, a two-year-old, Cambridge, U.K.-based startup developing a robotic system to perform minimally invasive surgery, has raised $20.3 million in new funding from investors, including ABB Technology Ventures, LGT Global Invest and Cambridge Innovation Capital. MedCity News has more here.

CommonBond, a five-year-old, New York-based platform that specializes in loans and refinancing for students, has raised $30 million in Series C funding led by Neuberger Berman Private Equity, with participation from August Capital, Tribeca Venture Partners, Social Capital, and Nyca Partners. The company has also secured $300 million in debt to loan out to prospective borrowers, including from Victory Park Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Guideline, a year-old, San Francisco-based startup that aims to make it much easier for employees to set up and make changes to the 401(k) plans, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Propel Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers New Enterprise Associates and Lerer Hippeau Ventures. The company, founded by Task Rabbit cofounder Kevin Busque, has now raised $10 million altogether. More here.

Jolt, a year-old, San Francisco-based marketplace that connects companies with professionals for live learning sessions, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Hillsven and UpWest Labs. GeekTime has more here.

Kiip, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based rewards network and mobile app that offers rewards from brands and companies for virtual achievements, has raised $12 million in Series C funding led by North Atlantic Capital, with participation from US Cellular and North Atlantic. That brings its total amount of funding up to $32 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Zenreach, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based enterprise software startup that provides WiFi hardware to restaurants and coffee shops on a monthly subscription basis, has raised $30 million in Series B funding led by Founders Fund, with participation from Bain Capital, SV Angel, Felicis Ventures, and SoftTech VC. The company has now raised $50 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds

Bloomberg Beta, a three-old, San Francisco-based outfit that helps expand Bloomberg L.P.’s horizons by investing in nascent startups within Bloomberg’s broad areas of interest, has raised a second, $75 million fund. TechCrunch has more here.

Rise Capital, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based venture firm focused on expansion-stage tech companies in emerging markets, is looking to raise up to $50 million for its second fund, shows a new SEC filing. StrictlyVC sat down with founder Nazar Yasim a couple of years ago to learn more about its ambitions.



A $1.2 billion takeover of Opera Software by a group of Chinese internet firms fell through yesterday after failing to get regulatory approval in time. It sent the Norwegian browser firm’s shares to a seven-month low. Reuters has more here.

Lookup, an India-based chat service that connects consumers to local business and is backed by Khosla Ventures, has been acquired by business discovery service NowFloats, which is also based in India. The deal priced is undisclosed, and Lookup said it will continue to operate independently. More here.



B Capital Group, the new venture firm cofounded by Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin, is looking to hire a VP of capital formation. The job is in L.A.


Essential Reads

Should Silicon Valley startups and their investors be accepting money from Saudi Arabia?

Flipkart’s Amazon’s problem.

Germany wants to add black boxes to autonomous vehicles. Will other countries follow suit?



Melania Trump’s determined ascent.

A trick to make first dates less painful.


Retail Therapy

Astronaut tape dispenser. (This one’s for you, Steve Jurvetson.)

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