StrictlyVC: August 17, 2016

Wednesday! Hope you have a happy one, everyone.

Also, for those of you on the waitlist for our upcoming StrictlyVC INSIDER event next month, with VC Marc Andreessen, SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie, “Radical Candor” author and former Google exec Kim Malone Scott, and Homebrew’s Hunter Walk: we can’t accommodate all of you (which stinks), but we hope to squeeze in at least five to 10 more readers. More on that soon. In the meantime, we’re getting excited about seeing everyone.:)

Thanks again to Bolt, Ballou PR, and Mattermark for partnering with us on this one; we very much appreciate their involvement.


Top News in the A.M.

Oof. Cisco is about to lay off upwards of 14,000 employees, representing nearly 20 percent of the networking giant’s global workforce, according to the outlet CRN. More here.

Univision has won the auction to acquire Gawker Media’s websites and business. It’s reportedly paying $135 million. Recode has more here.


Several Key Rothenberg Ventures’ Employees Have Left the Firm

Several high-level employees at the early-stage venture firm Rothenberg Ventures have recently left, we’ve learned. Among them is Tommy Leep, a partner and the head of Rothenberg’s San Francisco office, who left last month after spending two-and-a-half years with the firm. (A former product manager at Intuit, Leep spent the previous two years as “chief connector” at the venture firm Floodgate.)

Other recent departures include Tom Leep, father to Tommy, who’d spent more than three years as Rothenberg’s director of finance before leaving in June; Sophie Liao, who was recently hired with the title of Managing Director, Asia-Pacific Region and appears to have left this month; and Catherine Johnson, a former SVP of HR at BrightSource Energy who joined Rothenberg Ventures this spring, only to leave three months later, in June.

Neither Liao or Johnson has returned a request for comment. Leep referred all questions about the firm to a company spokesperson. Asked if his father’s departure and his own were connected or unrelated, Leep said he had “no comment at this time.”

A separate source suggests Leep left of his own accord, while a wide number of other employees were laid off. We don’t know if Michael Dempsey was among them, but the former CB Insights analyst, who joined Rothenberg Ventures in January as an investor, also left last week. Dempsey didn’t respond to a request for more information.

Rothenberg Ventures was founded just four years ago by Mike Rothenberg, an Austin native who nabbed a master’s in management science and engineering from Stanford before getting his MBA from Harvard.

Despite its age, the firm has made something of an outsize impact on the local venture industry, including by organizing popular events, such as an annual Founders Field Day at AT&T Park, where the San Francisco Giants play, and by barreling into virtual reality investments before many investors were paying much attention to them.

Indeed, in late 2014, Rothenberg Ventures announced it would be launching a startup accelerator, River, which planned to provide $100,000 in seed funding to virtual reality companies expressly. Among those early bets was FOVE, which makes an eye-tracking head-mounted display. FOVE passed through Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in London before being selected for River’s inaugural class, but, notably, it went on to raise an $11 million Series A round in March.

By May of last year, Rothenberg Ventures had also created River Studios, a “creative house for VR production” that, according to the firm’s site, currently “consists of 30 passionate creators, artists and developers, committed to creating inspiring stories, and pushing the boundaries of this awesome medium.”

More here.


New Fundings

EasyVista, an 18-year-old, New York-based service management company for IT organizations, has raised $8.4 million in funding from Isatis Capital, Alto Invest and Conversion Venture Capital. More here.

EventBoard, a four-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based maker of cloud-based meeting tools and analytics, has raised $13.5 million in Series B funding led by NGP, with participation from GE Ventures and earlier investors Greycroft Partners, Origin Ventures and Zetta Venture Partners. More here.

Pymetrics, a four-year-old, New York-based online job marketplace, has raised $6.1 million in Series A funding from BBG Ventures, Khosla Ventures,Mercer and Ranstad Innovation Fund. More here.

Rotation Medical, a seven-year-old, Plymouth, Mn.-based company that makes medical devices to treat rotator cuffs, has raised $8 million in Series B “extension funding” from earlier backers New Enterprise Associates, Life Sciences Partners and Pappas Ventures. As part of the round, a second tranche of $4 million is expected to close next year. More here.

Stash, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based investment platform for millennials, has raised $9.25 million in Series A funding led by Goodwater Capital, with participation from Valar Ventures and Entrée Capital. More here.

New Funds

Susa Ventures, a San Francisco-based seed-stage venture firm, announced yesterday that it has closed its second fund with $50 million. We wrote about Susa a little earlier this year when we first spied its filing for the fund.



Why the NYSE says it’s leading the tech IPO race (such as it is).



Ford Motor Company has acquired SAIPS, a three-year-old Israeli company focusing on machine learning and computer vision. TechCrunch has more here.

Ola, the company battling Uber in India, has shut down TaxiForSure, a rival it acquired for $200 million last year, after it integrated its services. TechCrunch has more here.

Live streaming video platform Twitch (a subsidiary of Amazon) is doubling down on video games with the acquisition of a significant player in the world of video game communities: 10-year-old Curse. TechCrunch has more here.



Adam Selipsky, the executive in charge of sales, marketing, and business development at Amazon’s cloud computing juggernaut, is leaving the company.

A life sciences symposium taking place in Palo Alto next month will include an unusual guest: Martin Shkreli, the indicted pharmaceutical company CEO who gained notoriety last fall for massively increasing the price of a lifesaving AIDS drug. More here.



Not the most surprising news, but: nearly one-third of private tech companies in the U.S. that have achieved “unicorn” status will eventually be worth less than $1 billion, according to a report published yesterday. Reuters has more here.


Essential Reads

Google is continuing a push to create a big business from its growing cloud-computing unit, announcing yesterday that it’s rolling out several new data features for small businesses.

Pinterest just began rolling out native video ads.

Here’s how Snapchat makes money from disappearing videos.



How imperfections could bring down the world’s most perfect statue.

Hugh Hefner’s rent just went way, way up.

Don’t I know you?”


Retail Therapy

One way to spruce up your outdoor summer dining.

Right now is also a really good time to buy a helicopter if you’re so inclined.

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