StrictlyVC: September 6, 2016

Hi, everyone! Welcome back from what we hope was a restful Labor Day weekend.:)


Top News in the A.M.

Apple is announcing a slew of things tomorrow at its iPhone launch event in San Francisco. Here’s some of what’s expected to happen.

Twitter‘s board is meeting Thursday. On the agenda, reportedly: talk about whether it soldiers on as a standalone company.


A Former Rothenberg Ventures Employee is Suing Over Breach of Contract and More

David Haase, a former employee of the beleaguered San Francisco-based firm Rothenberg Ventures Management Co. (RVM), is suing the firm and its founder, Mike Rothenberg, saying he was asked to run up more than $100,000 in business expenses on an American Express account at the direction of Rothenberg and never repaid.

In his lawsuit, filed last week in San Francisco, Haase says he joined Rothenberg Ventures in April of this year and tasked with “providing various services of a Chief Financial Office for RVM” while also doing work on behalf of the company’s affiliated businesses, including its four-year-old venture arm, Rothenberg Ventures, and its small but growing virtual reality production house, River Studios, founded in May 2015.

Haase says in his suit that in May, he opened the account with Rothenberg’s approval “for the purpose of acting as a credit line for the day-to-day expenses incurred by RVM.” These included business expenses charged by Rothenberg’s “numerous administrative assistants at his direct request.” Part of those expenses included payroll, according to our sources.

As of the suit’s filing, Haase’s account was overdue in the amount of $109,352.20 and, according to his suit, Rothenberg has “wrongfully and capriciously refused to pay” that debt, leaving Haase to deal with the charge, as well as the accruing interest on the amount. The suit says that Rothenberg “disavowed any responsibility on the part of RVM” despite having previously paid expenses charged to the card to the tune of $140,000.

Haase’s charges don’t end there. In a claim that may be of even greater interest to those following the case, Haase also says that Rothenberg co-mingled the accounts of Rothenberg Ventures and River Studios.

Whether this could prove problematic for Rothenberg isn’t yet clear; even LPs seem confused about how much of River Studios they own and how distinctly it was managed from Rothenberg Ventures. But Haase’s suit goes so far as to allege Rothenberg of treating “such accounts as personal accounts, to such an extent that such business entities were in fact his alter ego.”

More here.


New Fundings

Cheyipai, a seven-year-old, Beijing-based used-car trading platform, has raised $45 million in new funding led by a unit of the Chinese state-owned car maker BAIC Group. The company, reportedly struggling, has raised money in the past from Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners and Morningside Ventures. China Money Network has more here.

Divido, a 2.5-year-old, London-based financing company that lets invites customers to spread the cost of their purchases over time while retailers get paid in full straightaway, has raised £2.5 million ($3.3 million) in seed funding led by Mangrove Capital and DN Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Garena, a seven-year-old, Singapore-based mobile entertainment giant in Southeast Asia, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from SeaTown Holdings International, an affiliate of Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek; Indonesia’s GDP Venture; and Mistletoe, a Japan-based fund from Taizo Son, the younger brother of SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. TechCrunch has more here.

Saildrone, a four-year-old, Alameda, Ca.-based maker of unmanned, autonomous sailing drones that collect ocean data, has raised $14 million in Series A funding led by Social Capital, with participation from Capricorn Investment Group and Lux Capital. VentureBeat has more here.

VizEat, a two-year-old, Paris-based startup that operates a “social dining platform” to enable travellers throughout Europe to dine in a local’s home, has raised €3.8 million ($4.2 million) in funding led by various, mostly unnamed, investors, as well as earlier backer Eurovestech. More here.

Zilingo, a year-old, Singapore-based fashion-focused online marketplace, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Sequoia IndiaVenturra Capital and Susquehanna International Group, with participation from Wavemaker Partners, Beenext, Beenos and Digital Garage. TechCrunch has an interesting write-up about the company here.


New Funds

Entrepreneur First, a five-year-old, London-based startup accelerator that invests in technical talent from universities and companies before that talent has a team or an idea, has raised a new £40 million ($53.7 million) fund to co-invest in graduating companies. The fund comes roughly a year after the outfit closed its previous fund with £8.5 million (then $13.3 million). TechCrunch has more here.

Northzone, a 20-year-veteran of the European venture industry, has closed its eighth fund with €300 million ($337 million). TechCrunch has more here.



Everbridge, a 14-year-old, Burlington, Ma.-based company that sells mass messaging and critical communications services to enterprises, announced terms for its IPO this morning, revealing plans to raise $90 million by offering 7.5 million shares at a price range of $11 to $13. ABS Ventures is the company’s largest outside shareholder, with a 31 percent stake.



GE is spending roughly $1.4 billion on 3D printing technology, acquiring Sweden’s Arcam and Germany’s SLM Solutions. Reuters has more here.

Intel is acquiring the computer vision startup behind Google’s Project Tango 3D-sensor tech, Movidius, for undisclosed terms. The 10-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based company had raised $86.5 million from investors, says CrunchBase. Its backers include Summit Bridge Capital, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, and Celtic House Venture Partners, among others. TechCrunch has more here.

Volkswagen is spending $256 million for a 16.6 percent stake in publicly traded Navistar International to gain a foothold in the U.S. heavy-truck market. Bloomberg has more here.



In a detailed investigation, Vanity Fair looks at how Elizabeth Holmes‘s house of cards came tumbling down.

In June, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative announced an investment in Andela, a New York-based startup that trains software developers in Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya. Mark Zuckerberg visited Andela in Lagos last week, a visit captured here.



Goldman Sachs surveyed its interns around the world, asking everything from how they keep up with the news to how they monitor their spending habits. Here’s what they had to say.

Snapchat’s ad revenue is reportedly set to reach $1 billion in 2017.

New data shows one-third of bitcoin trading platforms have been hacked and nearly half have closed in the six years since they burst on the scene.


Essential Reads

Palantir, the secretive firm that supplies data analytics to companies and governments, has filed a dramatic lawsuit against one of its early investors, claiming the investor stole confidential information for his own use. Fortune has more here.

Uber and Lyft are expanding their push into rides for senior citizens, says Mashable., run by former Bloomberg exec Morgan Downey, has struck a deal with more than 100 colleges and universities throughout the U.S. in a bid to get finance students hooked on its data software — and to try to unseat the former mayor’s hardware business. The New York Post has more here.



Thanks to one of the most lavish offers in film history, the person taking over for Daniel Craig as James Bond may very well be. . . Daniel Craig.

Giant pandas are no longer endangered.

The Trump campaign tweeted out a picture of Donald Trump Jr. and his siblings this weekend, and Twitter went to town.


Retail Therapy

Beer holster. For better or worse, the next step is one of these.

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