StrictlyVC: August 16, 2016

Hi, all, we’re running around, crazed as usual, this a.m.; hope your Tuesday is off to a great start.:)


Top News in the A.M.

Take note, Apple fanatics: The iPhone 7 could be released on September 23 (a week or two later than expected), says MacRumors. More here.


Pejman Mar Raises $75 Million Second Fund, Rebrands as Pear

Likability, intuition, and a strong work ethic is a potent combination in any business, and many in Silicon Valley think seed-stage investors Pejman Nozad and Mar Hershenson have all three in spades. They “complement each other,” says investor Alfred Lin of Sequoia Capital, who invested in the Series A round of DoorDash, the restaurant delivery company, after they seeded it.

Indeed, the duo has already become somewhat for working closely with nascent teams — many of them in their backyard at Stanford — and vetting them for other VCs, who appear to have an open invitation to their modest offices. (This editor has spied many an investor milling about during different visits, including Bryan Schreier of Sequoia Capital, Mike Abbott of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Brian O’Malley of Accel.)

Nozad and Hershenson have admirers at much bigger institutions, too. In fact, today — almost exactly three years after the two launched a $50 million seed-stage fund under the eponymous moniker Pejman Mar Ventures —  they’re taking the wraps off a second, $75 million fund. They’re also scrapping their name and rebranding the firm as Pear.

Among Pear’s investors is New York Life Insurance, True Bridge Capital, and the University of Chicago, which also contributed capital to the firm’s debut fund. The school is back for more is that Hershenson and Nozad have “one of the most partnership-focused mindsets I’ve seen,” says Joanna Rupp, managing director of the University’s $1.1 billion private equity portfolio. “That extends to their limited partners [like us], general partners at other venture firms, and entrepreneurs.”

Certainly, Pear appears to think differently, which can perhaps be traced to its unusual roots. Nozad famously sold rugs to tech millionaires before becoming a full-time investor; one early bet was on the early smartphone company Danger, which sold to Microsoft in 2008 for $500 million. As it happens, it was through Danger that Nozad met Hershenson, a three-time entrepreneur whose husband cofounded the company.

Unlike other venture outfits that orchestrate expensive dinners with journalists, for example, Pear organizes events at its offices for cash-strapped founders and students that feature VCs and renowned CEOs as speakers. Past guests include John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins, Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang, investor Chamath Palihapitiya of Social Capital, and Zynga founder Mark Pincus — though Nozad says a more popular attraction is a life coach who comes regularly to help founders with their personal problems.

More here.


New Fundings

Appknox, a two-year-old, Singapore-based mobile security startup, has raised $640,000 in pre-Series A funding from SeedPlus, a new fund from Singapore’s Jungle Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Byte Academy, a two-year-old, New York-based coding bootcamp company, has raised $2.7 million in Series A funding led by Tri5 Ventures in Singapore. The outlet e27 News has more here.

Degreed, a 4.5-year-old, San Francisco-based platform for formal and informal learning, has raised $3.5 million in additional Series B funding from GSV Acceleration. The round, which also included Jump Capital, Signal Peak Ventures and Rethink Education, has now been closed with $25 million. More here.

FloSports, a 10-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based, subscription-based sports media company, has raised $21.2 million in funding co-led by DCM and Berlesmann Digital Media Investments, with participation from World Wrestling Entertainment, Discovery Communications and earlier investor Causeway Media Partners. Silicon Hills has more here.

Hike, a 3.5-year-old, New Delhi, India-based messaging app that enables users to communicate through texts and voice calls, has raised $175 million in Series D funding at a $1.4 billion valuation. Tencent led the deal; it was joined by earlier investors Tiger Global Management, Bharti and SoftBank. TechCrunch has more here.

ReviMedia, a six-year-old, New York-based online lead generation company, has raised $12.5 million in funding from NewSpring Growth Capital. More here.

Tioma Therapeutics, a 10-year-old, St. Louis, Mo.-based immuno-oncology company, has raised $86 million in Series A funding co-led by RiverVest Venture Partners, Novo Ventures, Roche Venture Fund and S.R. One. FierceBiotech has more here.

Tsinova, a two-year-old, Beijing, China-based smart bicycle manufacturer, has raised $23 million in Series B funding led by THG Ventures, a venture capital firm backed by state-owned Tsinghua Holdings. More here.

Velodyne, a nine-year-old, Morgan Hill, Ca.-based laser radar company, has raised $150 million in funding co-led by the Chinese search giant Baidu and automaker Ford. TechCrunch has more here.

Vettery, a three-year-old, New York-based online hiring marketplace, has raised $9 million in Series A funding led by Greycroft Partners and Raine Ventures. More here.



File-sharing giant Dropbox is talking with advisors about a 2017 IPO, says Bloomberg. More here.

Meanwhile, Nutanix, which makes software for data centers, aims to start its IPO roadshow as soon as next month, says Bloomberg. More here.



BullGuard, a venture-backed, 14-year-old London-based maker of anti-virus software, has agreed to acquire Dojo Labs, a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based startup that makes security and privacy software for IoT devices. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Dojo Labs doesn’t appear to have reported outside funding. Meanwhile, CrunchBase turns up just $5 million in funding for BullGuard.

Paris-based lens maker Essilor International has acquired eight-year-old, London-based online glasses retailer MyOptique for roughly €140 million ($157.9 million). MyOptique had raised roughly £55 million over the years, including from Acton Capital Partners, Beringea, Cipio Partners, GP Bullhound, Highland Capital Partners and Index Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Salesforce has acquired BeyondCore, a 12-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based automated enterprise data analytics company that had raised $9 million in Series A funding led by Menlo Ventures in 2014. No financial terms were disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.

Snapchat has agreed to acquire Vurb, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based recommendation app, for more than $110 million, according to The Information. Vurb had raised around $15 million, including from Atlas VentureRedpoint Ventures, Max Levchin, Marc Benioff, Data Collective, and CrunchFundMore here.


Alex Clayton is joining Spark Capital to focus on growth equity investments in the enterprise tech space, says Fortune. Clayton was previously a senior associate with Redpoint Ventures.

Investor Charles Hudson, who stepped in as interim CEO of the venture-backed marketing automation company Kahuna back in February, is handing over the reins to a new CEO Sameer Patel, who was most recently general manager/SVP at SAP Successfactors.

Industry Ventures has a new VP in Nate Leung, a former Bain Capital Ventures associate who most recently worked on partnerships for Optimizely (ex-Bain Capital Ventures). The San Francisco-based investment firm has also brought aboard as associate Justine Huang, who’d previously interned at Industry Ventures before joining Goldman Sachs as an analyst for a year.

Billionaire VC Peter Thiel published an op-ed in the New York Times yesterday, defending his financial involvement in the Gawker Media case by reiterating his belief that, “A story that violates privacy and serves no public interest should never be published.” More here.



Six percent of venture deals make up 60 percent of the industry’s returns, according to Horsley Bridge. Much more here.

New Enterprise Associates — in partnership with IDEO, O’Reilly, Uber, Casper, and Pocket, among others — is launching a survey today to obtain a better understanding of what makes a successful design-centric business. Toward that end, it’s gathering anonymized data from startups and would love your help. Click here to learn more and, if you’re so inclined, to contribute.


Essential Reads

Google is taking on Skype and FaceTime with a new video calling app called Duo. More here.



Asked and answered. “This country needs more spunk.”

Infinity pools with amazing, panoramic views.

Kegs, climbing, and kombucha: This is co-working now.


Retail Therapy

Katch ’em if you can!

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