StrictlyVC: October 13, 2016

Thursday already!? We will take it.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Pinterest said today that more than 150 million people use its visual bookmarking and ideas service, up from 100 million a year ago. More here.

WeWork, the 6.5-year-old, New York-based shared office and living space provider, just raised a whopping $260 million, including from Shanghai Jin Jiang International Hotels, reports the WSJ. The money reportedly brings WeWorks’s latest funding round to $690 million; the round values the company at around $16.9 billion. More here.


Fast Chat With Science Inc.

It’s been a good week for Science, a five-year-old, L.A.-based startup studio that’s known for both funding nascent startups and incubating them, including FameBit, a three-year-old outfit that helps marketers connect with digital influencers and which sold on Wednesday to Google.

Science was the majority owner. FameBit was the firm’s third exit of the year, too. Science also funded the marketing agency HelloSociety, which sold to the New York Times in March for undisclosed terms, and it backed the men’s grooming company Dollar Shave Club after its founder, Michael Dubin, showed Science what would go on to become a massively viral video promoting Dollar Shave Club’s razors. (Dollar Shave Club sold to Unilever for $1 billion in cash in July.)

Financial terms of the FameBit deal weren’t disclosed, but we reached out earlier this week to Science cofounder (and former MySpace CEO) Mike Jones to talk about it and get a bit of an update on Science while we were at it. Because he was traveling, we had an email exchange.

How much has Science raised in its five years? CrunchBase shows $10 million in venture capital, another $30 million in private equity, and another $20 million in debt financing. is that correct?

We don’t share that information.

Does Science plan to raise more money?

Yes, we are actively fundraising now.

How many companies is Science currently incubating?

We have four companies being incubated at the moment.

How many of those companies have you either cofounded or backed altogether at this point?

We’ve co-founded and invested in more than 60 companies.

You invest in companies off a balance sheet. What’s Science’s annual budget for startups?

We don’t share that information.

At the outset, Science planned to work with larger, publicly traded companies to help them invigorate their businesses. Was FameBit part of that strategy? If not, can you point to a startup that you’ve incubated or funded that is?

Despite its purchase by Google, FameBit will remain independent, which confirms that it’s a crucial, scalable ad unit for brands and YouTube. Traditional brands [haven’t been able to fully understand] their audiences, and that’s why we’re starting to see so much M&A activity in commerce. Brands like HelloSociety, FameBit and Dollar Shave Club energize seasoned companies, and that’s why we continue searching for similar disruptors.

More here.


New Fundings

Astronomer, a year-old, Cincinnati, Oh.-based platform for enterprise-scale big data integration, has raised $1.9 million in seed funding led by CincyTech, with participation from AngelPad, 500 Startups, First Ascent, Connetic Ventures, Drummond Road Capital and CoreNetwork Fund. Cincinnati Business Courier has more here.

ComplyAdvantage, a two-year-old, London-based startup that claims to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to help firms manage compliance obligations at reduced cost, has raised $8.2 million in Series A funding led by Balderton Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Coorpacademy, a three-year-old, Paris-based company at work on expanding its online platform for corporate education, has raised $11 million in funding from Serena Capital, NextStageAM, and Debiopharm Investment funds, among others. VentureBeat has more here.

Group Nine, a newly formed holding company that comprises four digital media organizations — Thrillist (lifestyle), NowThis Media (video news), The Dodo (animals), and Discovery’s digital network Seeker (including its production studio SourceFed) — has accepted $100 million in funding from Discovery Communications in exchange for a minority stake in the business. TechCrunch has more here.

PlaceIQ, a five-year-old, New York-based mobile location intelligence startup, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from e-commerce giant Alibaba. TechCrunch has more here.

Pluto TV, a three-year-old, L.A.-based video streaming service that targets cord cutters, has raised $30 million in Series B funding from ProSieben of Germany, which is one of Europe’s largest independent media companies, and the lifestyle media company Scripps Networks Interactive. TechCrunch has more here.

TouchBistro, a six-year-old, New York-based company whose iPad-based restaurant point-of-sale system enables owners to manage reservations and take orders quickly, has raised $17 million in Series B funding led by BDC IT Venture Fund. Other participants in the round include Round13 Capital, Huff Capital, and earlier backers Relay Ventures and Kensington Capital Partners. More here.


New Funds

They’re baaaack. Longtime investors and operators Dixon Doll, Eric Ball and Jack Crawford have formed a new venture firm called Impact Venture Capital; interestingly, they plan to make investments alongside corporate venture groups. Doll founded Doll Capital Management (DCM), which has gone on to great success by investing in both Silicon Valley and China. Ball previously served as the Treasurer for Oracle. Crawford previously managed Velocity Venture Capital. More here.



Snapchat has reportedly chosen bankers for an IPO that could happen as soon as March. The big winners? Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. Bloomberg has the story here.



Investors Ron Conway, Michael Moritz and William Oberndorf have each donated $50,000 to a controversial measure to rid San Francisco of its homeless tent cities. More here.

Longtime VC John Doerr has shelled out $500,000 to support Prop. 62 in California, a measure looking to repeal the 1978 law that imposes the death penalty.

If investor Peter Thiel still supports Donald Trump, he’s not telling.



At big U.S. law firms, there is a 44 percent(!) difference in pay between female partners and their male colleagues, according to the latest survey of big-firm partners released yesterday by the legal search firm Major, Lindsey & Africa. More here.


Essential Reads

Are we living in a simulation? No, really, Silicon Valley wants to know (and the press can’t quite believe it).

Twitter wants more TV producers live-streaming on Periscope with this new feature.

After years of behind-the-scenes planning, Goldman Sachs is opening its new online lending platform, Marcus, today. You need a special code  to use it, though.

Morgan Stanley is furnishing a $100 million credit line for Affirm, the four-year-old San Francisco-based online lending company led by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin.

Mercedes decides who an autonomous car should save, and the answer is, erm, worrying.



The ultimate efficiency hack — have kids.

Donald Trump’s reported Plan B: launch a next-gen Fox News.

Where did all the good movies on Netflix go?


Retail Therapy

Two words: Levitating. Turntable. (Ya welcome.)

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