StrictlyVC: August 22, 2016

We’re not quite ready for Monday, yet here it is anyway.:) Happy Monday, everyone.


Top News in the A.M.

Pfizer is buying the publicly traded San Francisco-based cancer drug maker Medivation for a whopping $14 billion. Dealbook has more here.


VC Charlie O’Donnell on Building Community on the Cheap

Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, a nearly four-year-old, seed-stage venture firm that’s solely run by founder and general partner, Charlie O’Donnell, just closed its second fund with $15 million, up from an $8.3 million debut fund in early 2014.

Yesterday, we talked  with O’Donnell about what the process was like, whether the New York venture scene will be impacted by the $3 billion sale of e-commerce company to Walmart, and how a small operation like Brooklyn Bridge Ventures can make an outsize impact on a shoestring budget.

TC: We sat down last November and you’d mentioned that you’d circled $13 million or so for this new fund.

CO: I estimated that I had about $13 million in estimated commitments, and we didn’t go into detail on what that meant. For me, it’s a spreadsheet that has a [potential investor] in the fund, a number, and a percent chance of closing, much like a sales pipeline.

Comparatively, my first fund took 9 months from announcement to first close, and 15 months from first close to last close. This fund took 6 months from first close to last close, with 70 percent of the capital commitments coming in the first two closes.That all seemed super fast to me.

TC: We were wondering if you ran into trouble this year with investors; some of the institutions that fund venture firms say they were mobbed earlier this year by firms that raised funds a couple of years ago and that didn’t want to be the last in line for their new fund.

CO: Most of my [investors] aren’t in any other funds. An endowment that wrote me a $1 million check certainly is. And I think my lead investor is in one or two other funds, along with maybe a handful of individuals [who wrote me checks]. But they’re definitely in the minority. At my size, I’m not talking to many traditional [investors]. I have no idea why they keep writing checks every two years for funds that haven’t proved themselves out yet. I came from the fund side. I thought VCs raised every three to four years.

TC: You’ve funded a lot of very promising companies. In your past life as a principal with First Round Capital, you also backed a number of companies that have sold. Do you have any “exits” yet at Brooklyn Bridge?

CO: One exit returned its capital, but given that most of these companies average about two years old or less (it was a three-year investment period fund), it would be pretty early to start seeing exits at this stage. Also, standouts like [the smart home security company]Canary are ramping up revenues and releasing new and improved products and not looking to take an early exit anytime soon.

TC: People have long said that New York needed a giant exit, especially after certain companies that looked to become big wins saw their fortunes change, including Gilt Groupe and Fab. Was Jet that exit? 

CO: Jet was certainly a large exit and a testament to the great team the company assembled. Three billion dollars is a lot of money, but given how much they raised right out of the gate, I don’t know what multiples its investors got given what one would assume were the entry prices. So, do the aggregate dollars count or the return multiple? I’m not sure, but I’m also not someone who believes in the “giant exit” theory.

What’s supposed to happen when we get a giant exit? We get more angels?

More here.


New Fundings

Amylyx Pharmaceuticals, a 3.5-year-old, Canton, Ma.-based company at work on a therapeutic for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and other neurodegenerative diseases, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Morningside Ventures, with participation from the ALS Investment Fund, former Genzyme CEO Henri Termeer, and other new and previous investors. More here.

Mobike, an 11-month-old Shanghai, China-based mobile app that allows users to rent bikes for short distance commutes, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Panda Capital, with participation from Joy Capital. The company, which operates its own bike fleet, was founded by a former Uber manager in China, says China Money Network. More here.

Quanergy Systems, a nearly four-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based company that’s working on solid state LiDAR sensors and smart sensing software, has raised roughly $90 million in Series B funding at a valuation that’s “well over $1 billion,” says the outfit. The publicly traded companies Sensata Technologies and Delphi Automotive participated in the round, along with Samsung Ventures, Motus Ventures and GP Capital. Quanergy has now raised $150 million altogether. More here.

Singlera Genomics, a two-year-old, Shanghai, China- and La Jolla, Ca.-based non-invasive genetic testing company, has raised $20 million in Series A funding led by Lilly Asia Ventures, with participation from Green Pine Capital Partners, CDBI Partners and others. More here.

Teambition, a three-year-old, Shanghai, China-based workplace collaborations SaaS startup,  has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Chinese Internet services giant Tencent.  DealStreetAsia has more here.

Virtru, a four-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based email and file encryption service, has raised $29 million in Series A funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners. Other participants include New Enterprise Associates, Soros Fund Management, Haystack Partners, Quadrant Capital Advisors, and Blue Delta Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Zoona, a seven-year-old, Cape Town, South Africa-based mobile money platform whose products include money transfers, electronic voucher payments, and agent payments, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group. Earlier backers Accion, Omidyar Network and Lundin Foundation also joined the round. CNBC Africa has more here.


New Funds

Kobe Bryant is now a venture capitalist, reports the WSJ. According to its report, Bryant has teamed up with longtime entrepreneur and investor Jeff Stibel to create an L.A-based firm called Bryant Stibel that — somewhat amazingly — will invest their own $100 million in combined capital. (They say they aren’t seeking outside investors.) The reports notes that they’ve already funded 15 startups together in recent years, including the home-juicing company Juicero and the legal services company LegalZoomMuch more here.



Everbridge, a Burlington, Ma.-based emergency communications platform provider, has filed plans for its IPO, putting an end to rumors of its intentions to go public. BostInno has more here.



Apple has acquired a three-year-old personal health data startup Gliimpsereports Fast Company. Terms aren’t known.

Microsoft has acquired Genee, a two-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based artificial-intelligence-powered scheduling service. Microsoft is planning to integrate the intelligence technology into Office 365 and shut down the Genee service on September 1. Genee appears to have raised one small venture round. VentureBeat has more here.

A group of Chinese investors said it’s acquiring the six-year-old ad-tech startup for about $900 million in cash, with plans to eventually sell the company to an obscure telecommunications firm whose shares have been suspended from trading since last year. Bloomberg has more here.



Isaac Evans has joined Redpoint Ventures as an entrepreneur-in-residence. Evans, 22, spent the last three years as a computer scientist at the Pentagon and will be looking at a a variety of security, machine learning and natural language processing technologies while at the firm.

Longtime ad exec turned consultant Cindi Gallop doesn’t care what you think. (Great profile of Gallop, whose path you’ve perhaps crossed on Twitter.)

Bill Gates‘s net worth just hit a record high of $90 billion.



The New York Times takes a look at the 20 U.S. cities with the greatest percentage increase in technology jobs from 2010 to 2015. Among them: Phoenix, Az., and Warren, Mi.


Essential Reads

How venture-backed Bandcamp became the holy grail of online record stores.

There may be another Snowden at the NSA. Here’s why.



Polo lessons for Conan, by legendary player Nacho Figueras.

Make that two not-so-easy days.

Everything I’m afraid might happen if I ask new acquaintances to get coffee.


Retail Therapy

Ka-pow! Big-budget director Michael Bay’s 30,000-square foot Bel Air home. (We’re not sure if it’s for sale, but it will be, someday!)

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