StrictlyVC: October 20, 2016

Hi! Happy Thursday, everyone. We’re running out the door so have a streamlined version of SVC for you today, but more tomorrow!


Top News in the A.M.

Verizon just reported declining revenue and plunging subscriber growth, and said it is assessing whether it will need to renegotiate its acquisition of Yahoo after a major data breach. The WSJ has more here.


Jess Lee Become’s Sequoia’s 11th Investing Partner

Sequoia Capital has brought aboard Jess Lee as its eleventh investing partner in the U.S., becoming the firm’s first senior female U.S. investor in its 44-year-old history.

Lee was a former Google product manager turned CEO of the fashion site Polyvore, which was acquired for $230 million in cash by Yahoo last year. She had stayed on with Yahoo, which is now being sold, maybe, to Verizon.

Lee seemed to demonstrate a strong eye for startups long ago. Indeed, in 2008, as an avid user of Polyvore, which was then just months old,  Lee wrote to its founder, Pasha Sadri, with whom she shared mutual friends. After offering him her unsolicited feedback via email about how to improve the site speed and other aspects of its product design, the two met for coffee and she was quickly brought into the company. By 2012, she was its chief executive.

The new appointment is a huge win for Lee, a Stanford grad who grew up in Hong Kong and joked to Fortune last year that she would have gone to art school but “Asian parents don’t really like that,” so she took a more traditional path; it has led her straight to the top of the venture industry.

The appointment is highly meaningful for Sequoia, too, of course. Though Sequoia China and Sequoia India feature five female investing partners, they are separate, affiliated funds. Meanwhile, the storied Sand Hill Road firm has been pressed for years on the lack of any female investors in its ranks. Pressure on the firm seemed to intensify late last year after longtime Sequoia investor Michael Moritz gave a widely watched interview given to journalist Emily Chang where they discussed whether Sequoia felt a responsibility to hire women.

Adjusting his collar uncomfortably at the time, Moritz said he’d like to think that the firm is “blind to somebody’s sex, to their religion, to their background.” He’d added that there is, in his view, a pipeline problem to explain the dearth of women at Sequoia. Asked if Sequoia might not be looking hard enough, Moritz had added that Sequoia “looks very hard . . . We just hired a young woman from Stanford who is every bit as good as her peers and if there are more like her, we’ll hire them. What we’re not prepared to do is to lower our standards.”

The comment drew scorn from across the internet, though a Bloomberg story this morning reports that longtime Sequoia partner Roelof Botha invited Lee to join Sequoia in the summer of 2015 when Yahoo acquired Polyvore.

More here.


New Fundings

Atipica, a 20-month-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based recruiting software startup, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by True Ventures, with participation from Kapor Capital, Precursor Ventures, and numerous angel investors, including former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao. USA Today has more here., a months-old, New York-based company whose iOS app that lets anyone make a podcast straight from their phone, using the phone’s built-in microphone, has raised $1 million in seed funding led by Spark Capital, with participation from Founders Collective and angel investors, including Evan Williams. TechCrunch has more here.

Finrise, a year-old, Burlingame, Ca.-based online lending startup that plans to reach customers in doctor’s offices (to aid with out-of-pocket expenses), has raised $5.4 million in debt and seed equity funding, including from Mayfield, NFX Guild, WTI, and numerous angel investors, including Funding Circle cofounder Sam Hodges and LendingHome CEO Matt Humphrey. We wrote up more here.

Hangar Technology, a months-old, Austin, Tex.-based startup, has raised $6.5 million in seed funding for technology that lets corporations get all the business intelligence they want out of drones, without having to pilot them or crunch the billions of data points that they generate. The deal was led by Lux Capital, with participation from Fontinalis Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Propeller Health, a six-year-old, Madison, Wi.-based mobile platform that offers sensors, mobile apps, analytics, and services to support respiratory health management, has raised $21.5 million in Series C funding, including from 3M Ventures, S.R. One, and Hikma Ventures. Earlier backers Safeguard Scientifics and Social Capital joined the round. More here.

Ritual, a year-old, L.A.-based West Hollywood, Ca.-based vitamin company, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding led by Forerunner Ventures, with participation from Norwest Venture Partners, New Enterprise Associates, and earlier backers Upfront Ventures and Rivet Ventures. The company has now raised $5 million altogether TechCrunch has more here.

Securly, a four-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based company that makes a cloud-based web filtering system for K-12 schools across the U.S., has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by Owl Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds

Fedpoint Ventures has raised its first China-focused fund, Redpoint China I, a $180 million fund that it plans to invest in early-stage consumer and enterprise tech startups in the country. The firm says investing in China is nothing new, even if this formalized effort is its way of planting a much bigger flag. Since 2005, Redpoint has funded more than 35 companies in China out of its early-stage, U.S. based funds, and it already has offices in Shanghai and Beijing. Partner Chris Moore has more here.



Jennifer Lopez is set to produce a new NBC show called C.R.I.S.P.R., a procedural thriller set five minutes into the future that explores the next generation of terror: DNA hacking. The Hollywood Reporter has more here.

Peter Thiel is giving a speech in Washington on Oct. 31 to address the election, his spokesman just said. More here.



China has now overtaken the U.S. to become the largest market in the world for App Store revenue, according to a new report out this morning from app intelligence firm App Annie. More here.


Essential Reads

Last night, Tesla announced the new Model X and Model S electric vehicles will now come with the necessary hardware to allow them to drive completely autonomously at a future point in time. But as Ars Technica reports, “buried in the notes about this new functionality there was also a warning to future Tesla owners: don’t expect to be able to use your EV driving for Uber, Lyft, or any other ride-sharing service that isn’t owned by Tesla.” More here.

SoFi is really stretching the definition of what a lender should do.



The secret behind Italy’s rarest pasta.

Moderately motivated Gen-Xer for hire.


Retail Therapy

Superheroes shadow posters.

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