StrictlyVC: November 11, 2016

Hi! Happy Friday, everyone, and a giant thank you to those of you who are veterans or who count veterans in your family. We so greatly appreciate your service.

Top News in the A.M.

Alibaba says its Singles Day promotion yesterday smashed its previous sales record, and that it recorded a stunning $15 billion 20 hours into the event.

Yep, 2016 Will See the Fewest IPOs since 2009

While September might have been a good month for IPOs, things have slowed down considerably again, and don’t expect that to change before the first quarter of 2017. The last six weeks of the year are typically slow. There’s also the black swan outcome of the U.S. presidential election to factor into the picture.

What that means: 2016 will likely see as few IPOs as 2009 — there’s just too much ground to make up at this point.

New Pitchbook numbers underscore the point. In the first three quarters of this year, just $7.24 billion was raised across 49 public offerings — declines of 49 percent and 48 percent, respectively, over the first three quarters of 2015. And that’s taking both PE-backed and VC-backed companies into account. Breaking things down further, just $2 billion was raised across 31 venture-backed IPOs.

Also, the first time since 2008, not a single IPO raised more than $250 million for the issuer, notes Pitchbook. That largely owes to smaller floats. As IPO pro Lise Buyer noted when we chatted with her last month, it “used to be that you sold 10 to 20 percent of your shares in an IPO, but . . . valuations are low, so companies are smart to take advantage of the [demand created from] limited supply.”

As for so-called unicorns — of which there ostensibly remain roughly 200 — just two made it out the door this year: Nutanix and Twilio.

So what happens next? It’s hard to know. Most companies take advantage of the ability to file confidentially, which allows them to get the process started without alerting their competitors to their numbers. We may see a healthy number of offerings in the first quarter; we might not.

Of course, even those that may have been prepping public offerings could push them off for now while the markets adjust to the new U.S. president. As you might have noticed, while most of the market rose yesterday, tech stocks have been crumbling over apparent concerns about the impact the incoming administration will have on trade overseas.

You can find Pitchbook’s newest numbers here, if you’d like to read more.

New Fundings

CureVac, a 16-year-old, Germany-based biopharmaceutical company that’s developing immunotherapies for the treatment of prostate cancer and non-small cell lung cancer, has raised $29.5 million in funding led by new investorsBaden-Württembergische Versorgungsanstalt für Ärzte, Zahnärzte und Tierärzte and Landeskreditbank Baden-Württemberg. More here.

CurrencyFair, a seven-year-old, Dublin, Ireland-based peer-to-peer currency exchange marketplace, has raised €8 million ($8.8 million) in funding led by earlier backers Octopus Ventures and Frontline Ventures. VentureBeat has more here.

Heureka Software, a two-year-old, Cleveland, Oh.-based analytics company that gives organizations the ability to extract intelligence from dark data, has raised $1.1 million in seed funding from the venture development organization JumpStart and local angel investors. More here.

Intuity Medical, a 14-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based company that makes blood glucose monitoring systems for diabetes management, has raised $40 million led by PTV Healthcare Capital, with participation from Luther King Capital Management, Accuitive Medical Ventures, Investor Growth Capital, U.S. Venture Partners, Venrock, and Versant Ventures. MobiHealthNews has more here.

PillDrill, a three-year-old, Las Vegas-based startup behind a medication tracking system, has raised $3 million in seed funding from unnamed angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

ReVision Optics, a 20-year-old, Lake Forest, Ca.-based company behind an implantable presbyopia-correcting corneal inlay technology, has raised $32 million in funding led by JJDC, with participation from earlier backers Canaan Partners, Domain Associates, InterWest Partners and ProQuest Investments. More here.

Singular, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based marketing analytics company, has raised $15 million in Series A funding from KDWC, Translink Capital, Telstra Ventures, and earlier backer General Catalyst Partners. Globes has more here.


Authorea, a 4.5-year-old, New York-based online collaborative platform for researchers, has acquired The Winnower, a two-year-old, bootstrapped research publisher that offers advanced publishing tools to individual authors. No financial terms were disclosed. According to CrunchBase, Authorea has raised $2.25 million from Lux Capital, the Knight Foundation, ff Venture Capital and New York Angels. More here.

Facebook has purchased CrowdTangle, a four-year-old, Baltimore, Md.-based tool that publishers use to track how content spreads around the web. Terms aren’t being disclosed. According to CrunchBase, CrowdTangle had raised $2.2 million from a host of investors, including Advancit Capital, Betaworks, and BoxGroup. More here.


Brendan Hannigan has joined Polaris Partners as a New York-based venture partner focusing on security, cloud and SaaS companies. Hannigan spent more than four years as a general manager at IBM previously.

Last night, Fox News reported that Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney had asked employees who had voted for Trump to resign, but there’s no evidence to support that claim.

Rob May has joined Pillar Companies, a Boston-based venture firm, as a partner. May previously cofounded Backupify, where he was CEO until it was acquired in late 2014.

Peter Thiel is reportedly joining Donald Trump’s transition team, and according to a tidbit just leaked to reporter Dan Primack, Thiel is already suggesting that Trump consider Rex TibbensCOO of Lyft, as U.S. Transportation Secretary. We will admit that our first reaction to this possibility was: Gross. Barf. More cronyism. (Lyft is backed by Thiel’s Founder Fund.) But the general idea is an interesting one. Tibbens was previously a VP at Amazon where, according to his LinkedIn bio, he led the technical and product development of Prime Now, Amazon’s one-hour delivery service. He also spent some time in logistics at Dell.

A 21-year-old Thiel Fellow is dropping out of the program and returning the $100,000 grant he was given, citing Thiel’s help in Trump’s election win. Says Cosmo Scharf, the young founder, ” . . . the free money is not worth having that on my conscience every few months when a wire transfer comes through my bank account.”

Amid reports that Facebook greatly impacted the U.S. election outcome owing to the filters it uses and the fake news that users discovered on the platform, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is saying that “the idea that fake news on Facebook, which is a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way… is a pretty crazy idea.” More here.

Essential Reads

Amazon has to refund parents for their kids’ “accidental” in-app purchases, a federal judge decided yesterday.

Yikes. Carnegie Mellon researchers just showed how commercial-grade facial recognition software can be tricked into identifying the wrong person 100 percent of the time.


Seattle Seahawks linebacker Cassius Marsh may not look like a nerd, but “I’m a nerd,” he told the Washington Post while searching for his stolen “Magic: The Gathering” cards.

Rats are ticklish, too.

“This is what it feels like when America’s made great again.” (Funny, poignant stuff from Stephen Colbert.)

Retail Therapy

We’re putting this one on our Christmas list. (It’s legal here now in California, and given this week, we think Santa will understand.)

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