StrictlyVC: October 27, 2016

Look, we will admit that we like the Cubs almost as much as the Indians, but we totally take back what we said yesterday. We can get used to winning! Team, let’s turn these stats around!

Happy Thursday, everyone.:)


Top News in the A.M.

Yesterday, Tesla Motors posted a surprise profit of $21.9 million in the third quarter, defying Wall Street expectations.

Twitter also reported much-needed, solid third-quarter performance yesterday, and it confirmed that it would lay off roughly 9 percent of its staff.

Money, money, moneySnapchat will seek to raise as much as $4 billion in its planned IPO, which could value the company at between $25 billion and $35 billion.


A Founder Seizes on Anti-Trump Sentiment to Market to Women

Earlier this year, Kristen Koh Goldstein merged two of her companies, three-year-old Scalus and six-year-old BackOps into a new company called HireAthena, a back-office-as a service startup that also sells fully automated workflow software.

From the start, the company has aggressively marketed itself to both customers and employees who are women, and it’s smartly playing up to them right now in a presidential election season where talk of sexism has often (yes) trumped talk of education, defense, and the war on drugs, among other national issues.

Explains Goldstein of HireAthena’s workflow software, on which the company appears to be focusing most of its time and attention: “Our software levels the amount of self-advocacy among a team of people who have to get something done together” by making it easier to follow exactly who committed to do what and when.

“Too often, you have skilled, hard-working women who are subject-matter experts having to deal with the Trumps of the world yelling over us,” says Goldstein, who worked earlier in her career as an analyst with both Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse. “Our software enables the shy voice to work with the bold voice to get work done. Our engagement is high because women are saying, ‘I have to use this product; it keeps me from being blamed for stuff that isn’t my fault.’”

Whether or not that’s true is hard to know. Goldstein doesn’t disclose many metrics about her business other than to say that it is profitable and that investors have expressed interest in providing HireAthena with more capital. (Goldstein’s earlier companies had raised a collective $10 million from Sherpa Capital, GV, Data Collective, Naval Ravikant, and Max Levchin among others.)

Either way, faced with endless reports about Donald Trump’s history of dehumanizing women, and women outside of his sphere coming forward with their own stories of harassment, Goldstein is honing her recruiting and sales efforts around a specific pitch.

More here.


New Fundings

Bonesupport, a 16-year-old, Lund, Sweden-based med-tech company that develops treatments for bone fractures, has raised $37 million in equity and debt funding led by Tellacq AB, with participation from HealthCap, Lundbeckfond Ventures, Industrifonden, AP3 and Carl Westin. The debt was provided by Kreos Capital. More here.

BrainCheck, a two-year-old, Houston, Tex.-based app that helps users understand if they or a loved one may have suffered a concussion simply by playing games on an iPad, has raised $3 million in seed funding from undisclosed sources. TechCrunch has more here.

Busfor, a four-year-old, Moscow-based platform for buying bus tickets across Russia (it plans to expand into Eastern Europe and Asia soon), has raised $20 million from two Russia-based firms: Baring Vostok and Elbrus Capital. Earlier backer InVenture Partners, also based in Russia, joined the round, too. The company has now raised $25 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Cloudian, a three-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based hybrid cloud object storage platform, has raised $41 million in Series D funding led by Eight Roads Ventures and Epsilon Venture Partners. Other partipants in the round include Lenovo, City National Bank and DVP Investment, as well as earlier backers Intel Capital, INCJ and Goldman Sachs. The company has now raised $79 million altogether. The Register has more here.

DemystData, a six-year-old, New York, Hong Kong, and Singapore-based company that uses big data to create credit profiles, has raised $7 million in Series B funding led by MissionOG, with participation from Notion Capital and Singtel Innov8. More here.

eMindful, a 13-year-old, Vero Beach, Fla.-based provider of behavioral change programs to help reduce employee stress,  has raised $6.85 million in Series B funding led by LFE Capital, with participation from One Earth Capital, Bridge Builders Collaborative, New Ground Ventures and Fairground Capital. FinSMEs has more here.

ForeverCar, a five-year-old, Chicago-based online platform that allows consumers to purchase extended auto warranty contracts directly, has raised $10 million in funding ed by CUNA Mutual Group’s venture capital arm, with participation from KDWC Ventures and entrepreneur Jai Shekhawat. Crain’s Chicago Business has more here.

NanoPay, a three-year-old, Toronto-based payments company that integrates loyalty, electronic receipts and coupons for its merchant customers, has raised $10 million in Series A funding from Goldman Sachs, APAGM Services, Jarnac Capital Management, and Rohatton. Banking Technology has more here.

PointGrab, an eight-year-old, Hod Hasharon, Israel-based company whose machine learning technology is installed in optical IoT devices for home and building automation systems, has raised $7 million in funding from Philips Lighting, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital Co., and earlier backer ABB Technology Ventures. VentureBeat has more here.

Super League Gaming, a two-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based interactive video game league, has raised $5 million in funding from Toba Capital and aXiomatic. Forbes has more here.

Wochit, a 4.5-year-old, New York City-based video creation platform company that helps publishers produce videos super fast, has raised $13 million in funding from ProSieben, Singapore Press Holdings’ SPH Media Fund, Carlo de Benedetti and earlier backers Redpoint Ventures, Marker LLC and Cedar Fund. Recode has more here.

Rokid, a two-year-old, China-based AI and robotics company that makes what it calls a family service robot (it connects to smart home devices to control lighting, window curtains, and other home electronics, but it also has face recognition technologies), has raised $65 million in Series B funding led by IDG Capital Partners, with participation from Walden International. China Money Network has more here.



Chinese logistics firm ZTO Express completed an IPO yesterday — the biggest of 2016 on the NYSE. It raised $1.4 billion in a deal that values it at more than $12 billion. Fortune has more here.



Flexera Software, a Itasca, Ill.-based software asset management company, is spending an undisclosed amount to acquire Palamida, a nearly 12-year-old, San Francisco-based company that makes application security software to track undisclosed code and associated security vulnerabilities. Palamida had raised $18.5 million over the years from Walden Venture CapitalMitsui Global Investment, and HWVPMore here.

Groupon is acquiring LivingSocial, its onetime rival, for an undisclosed but presumably not enormous sum. (It’s “not material,” says Groupon.)  More here.

It’s official: Qualcomm will acquire NXP Semiconductor in a chip-making marriage made in heaven. The deal values NXP at around $47 billion in cash. More here.

Samsung is spending an undisclosed amount to acquire Tachyon, a five-year-old, Reston Va.-based specialist in mobile device configuration and security for businesses. Samsung plans to integrate Tachyon into its enterprise offering to help businesses speed up the secure configuration of third-party apps on their Samsung devices. TechCrunch has more here.

Verizon is buying Vessel, a San Francisco-based subscription video service founded three years ago by Hulu’s former CEO, Jason Kilar, and its former CTO, Richard Tom. Actually, Verizon is buying the company’s tech, with plans to shut down the service. Vessel had raised more than $130 million from investors, including Benchmark, Greylock Partners, Bezos Expeditions and Institutional Venture Partners. More here.



Billionaire Mohamed Alabbar, one of Dubai’s most prominent businessmen, plans a phone messaging service for the Middle East that aims to compete with services such as WhatsApp. It will be designed for an Arabic-speaking audience, he says.

Tesla recently noted that car owners won’t be able to use their future self-driving Teslas to drive for Uber or Lyft. On Tesla’s Q3 earning call yesterday, CEO Elon Musk addressed claims that he’s taking aim at Uber.

Amazon has signed up “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner to write an eight-episode dramatic series for it, and it’s paying him a whopping $70 million. Deadline has more here.



Google’s “smart city” spinoff Sidewalk Labs is looking for an entrepreneur-in-residence to focus on modular housing. The job can be in San Francisco or New York.


Essential Reads

Well! Harvard Management Co. employees called its board inattentive and called out colleagues as “lazy, fat and stupid” in an internal review by McKinsey & Co. More here.

Samsung is in trouble. The Korean electronics giant’s operating profit plunged 30 percent year-on-year as the effects of the Galaxy Note 7 crisis begin to take a financial toll. More here.

Those Apple AirPods won’t be ready this month after all.



Caltech is now the hardest university to get into in the U.S.

Scientists starting labs today say they have precious little time for actual research.

It’s true: more people are behaving poorly on flights.


Retail Therapy

Microsoft is not messing around this time.

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