StrictlyVC: September 16, 2016

Friday!!!!!!!! Hope you have a wonderful weekend, everyone.:)


Top News in the A.M.

Unilever is the front-runner in talks with the Honest Company about an acquisition. Sounds like it doesn’t think the company is quite worth the $1.7 billion valuation that investors assigned the company last year, however. More here.

Tesla just won a bid to supply grid-scale power in SoCal to help prevent electricity shortages following the biggest natural gas leak in U.S. history. More here.

Eek. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission officially recalled the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 in an announcement yesterday because of serious fire and burn hazards. The recall will include roughly 1 million phones. More here.


Guild Education Lands $8.5 Million in Series A Funding Led by Redpoint

According to a 2014 report from Complete College America, a nonprofit group based in Indianapolis, just 19 percent of full-time students earn a bachelor’s degree in four years at public universities. The stats are even worse at community colleges, where five percent of full-time students earn an associate degree within two years, and just 15.9 percent earn a one- to two-year certificate on time.

Some of why students are taking longer to graduate centers on the lack of a clear planning, changing majors, changing universities, and taking unnecessary courses, suggests a variety of research. But Rachel Carlson, the cofounder and CEO of Denver-based Guild Education, says there are plenty of non-academic factors at play, too, including soaring tuition costs and shift work that can interfere with community college class schedules.

Indeed, to help those many students who are working their way through college, as well as help companies that recognize the importance of helping employees realize their full potential, 16-month-old Guild partners with employers including Chipotle to offer education as a benefit, right alongside healthcare.

How does it work?  The IRS already allows for employers to offer up to $5,250 annually of tax-free education to help any employee as long as the benefits “are provided by reason of their employment relationship.” Employers can also pay beyond $5,250 if they like, though employees generally have to pay tax on the additional amount. (Qualified employees can also apply for an additional $5,815 in available federal grants.)

More here.


New Fundings

Applause, a nine-year-old. Framingham, Ma.-based company that makes software testing tools, has raised $35 million in Series F funding led by Credit Suisse, with participation from Accenture and return backers Goldman Sachs, QuestMark Partners, Scale Venture Partners, Longworth Venture Partners, Mesco and MassVentures. More here.

KeyMe, a four-year-old, New York-based startup that makes self-service key duplicating kiosks that can be found in 7-Eleven, Rite Aid and other stores, has raised $15 million in Series C funding led by QuestMark Partners. Earlier backers, including Comcast Ventures, Battery Ventures, White Star Capital, 7-Eleven, Ravin Gandhi and the Polsky Family Office, also participated in the round. TechCrunch has more here.

Renmatix, a 13-year-old, Philadelphia, Pa.-based biofuels company, has raised $14 million in new funding led by Bill Gates and the publicly traded company Total. More here.

Resilinc, a six-year-old, Milpitas, Ca.-based company that makes supply chain resiliency and risk management software, has raised an undisclosed amount of fresh funding from Bright Success Capital, Procyon Ventures and Salesforce Ventures. More here.

Securus Medical Group, a five-year-old, Cleveland, Oh.-based maker of ablation therapy-related medical devices, has raised $10 million in Series C funding led by Boston Scientific, with participation from Global Cardiovascular Innovation Center and earlier inestors RiverVest Venture Partners, 3X5 Special Opportunity Fund and the University of Michigan MINTS program. Mass Device has more here.

Totango, a six-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based customer success platform company, has raised $8 million in Series C financing led by Benhamou Global Ventures, with participation from returning investors Pitango Venture Capital, Canvas Ventures, and Interwest Partners. GeekTime has more here.


New Funds

Founders Circle Capital, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based secondaries firm that buys portions of stock from founders, executives, employees or early backers, has raised $205 million for its newest fund. The company, led by Chris Albinson, Mike Jung, and Ken Loveless, has also named Mark Dempster as partner. Dempster has been advising the fund for years; old-timers will recall that Dempster spent 13 years as a marketing partner with Sequoia Capital. Founders Circle had closed on $195 million for its debut fund in October 2014.More here.

iFly Ventures, a new, Palo Alto-based platform being led by former Formation 8 investors Han Shen and Haitao Zhang, is targeting $100 million for a debut fund, suggests a new SEC filing. (H/T: Fortune.)



Shares in Everbridge, a Burlington, Ma.-based provider of emergency communications software, opened on Nasdaq this morning at $12.30, a small increase from the company’s IPO price of $12. BostInno has much more here.



Google is paying an undisclosed amount for Urban Engines, a two-year-old startup focused on location-based analytics for urban planning. The team will reportedly be joining the Google Maps team. Urban Engines had raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Andreessen Horowitz, SV Angel, GV, Google honcho Eric Schmidt, and renowned angel investor and Ram Shriram. VentureBeat has more here.

Mode Media (formerly Glam Media) once boasted that it was the seventh largest U.S. media property; now, despite raising $225 million over its 13-year history, the company is shutting down. The WSJ has more here.



The government watchdog site MuckRock is offering up to three “fellowships” that will pay for 250 Freedom of Information Act requests which dig into Peter Thiel. CNET has more here.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has sold $95 million in Facebook stock in recent days, bringing to nearly $300 million the value of shares sold during the past month. CBS News has more here.



TripAdvisor, the publicly traded travel company, is looking to hire a VP of corporate development. The job is in Needham, Ma.


Essential Reads

Elon Musk wanted a race. Now, GM is giving him one.

Why Apple’s newest hires hint at a push into augmented reality.

Meet the startup that two of Google’s top self-driving engineers left to create.

The venture capital firm that wasn’t there.



A vicious skewering of Apple’s AirPods, courtesy of Conan.

Sorry, friends, but nuzzling adorable kittens can make you sick.

Norah Jones is back. (Yay.)


Retail Therapy

For sale: prints of Silicon Valley leaders by longtime photographer Doug Menuez. More on Menuez here.

Filed Under:

Don’t Miss Out!

Sign up today to receive a free daily email with everything you need to start your day. Plus, keep track of the companies and personalities that will shape the industry in the months and years to come. Let StrictlyVC be your very own venture capital concierge.

StrictlyVC on Twitter