StrictlyVC: September 12, 2016

Hi, all, happy Monday! We’re here at TechCrunch Disrupt, watching a panel with U.S. CTO Megan Smith and U.S. Deputy Chief CTO Alexander Macgillivray. There’s lots of great content coming out of the show; you can catch the live stream here.

(No column today; we aren’t so great with the multitasking.)


Top News in the A.M.

Facebook‘s head of Messenger, David Marcus, said this morning that out of Messenger’s billion users, 300 million are active users of its audio and video calling features. He also suggested the bots are overhyped and underpowered.


New Fundings

AcuFocus, a 15-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based company that makes corneal inlays to improve the visiion of presbyopic patients, has raised $66 million in new financing led by KKR. The Orange County Business Journal has more here.

Business Talent Group, an 11-year-old, New York-based platform for independent consultants and executives doing project-based work, has raised $8 million in Series B funding led by NextEquity Partners, with participation from the Bradley Family Trust; Ted Meisel, the former CEO of Overture and co-founder of AVIA Health Innovation; and numerous earlier investors. More here.

Datorama, a four-year-old, New York-based marketing analytics software-as-as-service company, has raised $32 million in Series C funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from Marker LLC and Innovation Endeavors. The company has now raised $50 million altogether. Geektime has more here.

Fusebill, an Ottawa, Ontario-based software platform that automates manual accounting processes for small businesses, has raised $4.6 million funding from ScaleUp Ventures and Langdell Investments. Betakit has more here.

GenieBelt, a four-year-old, Copenhagen, Denmark-based project management platform for the construction industry, has raised €2 million ($2.2 million) in funding from the European services company Danish Solar A/S and company cofounder and chairman Klaus Nyengaard.

Inflazome, a months-old, Dublin, Ireland-based developer of orally available drugs, has raised $17 million in Series A funding co-led by Novartis Venture Funds and Fountain Healthcare Partners. FierceBiotech has more here.

Nuxeo, a 15-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based enterprise content management platform, has raised $20 million in new funding from Goldman Sachs. Reuters has more here.

Phononic, an eight-year-old, Durham, N.C.-based company whose patented solid-state cooling and refrigeration technology aims to replace older refrigeration systems, has raised $30 million in new funding from GGV CapitalLookout Capital, Eastwood Capital Corp., Venrock, Oak Investment Partners, Tsing Capital, Huaneng Invesco WLRoss, the Wellcome Trust and Rex Healthcare Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Portfolium, a two-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based company that showcases digital work samples of millions of students, helping match their skills to the requirements of employers, has raised $6.6 million in funding led by SJF Ventures, with participation from University Ventures and USA Funds, a large guarantor of student loans. TechCrunch has more here.

Project44, a two-year-old, Chicago-based enterprise SaaS integration platform, has raised $10.5 million in Series A funding led by Emergence Capital, with participation from Chicago Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank. ChicagoInno has more here.


New Funds

AirTree Ventures, a two-year-old, Sydney, Australia-based venture firm, has closed its newest fund with $250 million, which it’s calling the largest fund in Australia’s history to date. (Until now, Blackbird Ventures, which raised a $200 million fund in September 2015, held that honor.) AirTree is run by two of the country’s best-known tech investors: former Microsoft exec Daniel Petre and Craig Blair, formerly of Expedia. This is AirTree’s second vehicle, following a debut $60 million fund that it closed in July 2014. The Australian Financial Review has more here.



Cambridge, Ma.-based CRISPR Therapeutics filed with the SEC on Friday, indicating that it plans a $90 million IPO. As yet, the date of the IPO hasn’t been announced. Biospace has more here.



Ford has agreed to acquire Chariot, a two-year-old San Francisco-based private bus service. Chariot had raised roughly $3 million in seed funding, including from SoftTech VC, Haystack, Winklevoss Capital and Maven Ventures. Read more.

HP said this morning that it has agreed to acquire Samsung Electronics’s printer business in a deal valued at $1.05 billion. Dealbook has more here.

Teads, an 11-year-old, New York-based video ad company that last month raised $47 million in debt financing to fuel an acquisition spree of other adtech startups, has acquired six-year-old, U.K.-based Brainient, an interactive video ad startup. Terms of the deal aren’t being shared. Brainient had raised roughly $4 million in total funding, including a $1.8 million Series A round in 2012 led by Prague-based Credo Ventures.

Verizon is paying an undisclosed amount to acquire Sensity Systems, a six-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based startup whose software helps businesses and others convert older lighting systems to connected LED systems, making them controllable remotely. Sensity had raised roughly $74 million from investors, shows CrunchBase. As TechCrunch reports, the move enhances Verizon’s wider Internet of Things “smart city” business, ThingSpace. More here.



In a retrenchment of one of its most ambitious initiatives, Apple has shuttered parts of its self-driving car project and laid off dozens of employees, according to the New York Times. More here.

There’s too much money in the startup ecosystem, and “there will be consequences of that,” says venture capitalist Bill Gurley.

Veteran media exec George Kliavkoff is leaving Hearst to run Jaunt, a virtual reality startup. Recode has more here.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer stands to collect a $44 million severance package if she leaves after Verizon completes its purchase of the once-mighty internet company.

CNet cofounder Halsey Minor is back with yet another new company, a VR startup called Live Planet. More here.



The law firm Perkins Coie and Upload just surveyed 653 people — including AR/VR startup founders, executives with established tech companies and investors —  to learn more about their growth expectations and their concerns. You can check it out here.


Essential Reads

Tesla‘s Autopilot 8.0 uses radar instead of cameras to prevent accidents like the fatal Model S crash.

How Pittsburgh became Uber‘s testing ground.

The rise of the Dark Net—where weapons, drugs, and information are bought, sold, and hacked.



How the sugar industry derailed the discussion about sugar’s dangers for decades.

Gucci’s Renaissance man.

How awkward are you, really? Take this quiz and find out!

Here’s how far you can drive your car on empty, in one chart.


Retail Therapy

Lock Laces. (The seven-year-olds in your life will love these.)

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