StrictlyVC: November 14, 2016

Hi, everyone, hope you had a great weekend. We’re still depressed, but Dave Chapelle’s monologue on SNL this past weekend helped a little bit.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Samsung is increasing its focus on the connected car after the Korean firm announced plans to acquire auto and audio product maker Harman in an all cash deal worth $8 billion. TechCrunch has more here.

Siemens is buying Mentor Graphics for $4.5 billion in cash — its second acquisition focusing on software for semiconductor design this year. Fortune has more here.

Noodling the Future of Urbanization

For roughly a year, Niko Bonatsos, a managing director at the venture firm General Catalyst Partners, didn’t make a single investment. He was meeting with startups daily, as it’s his job to do. But Bonatsos, who steered General Catalyst to Snapchat in 2012, was finding it hard to be inspired by what he was saw.

That changed in September, says Bonatsos, who has spent recent months spending half his time focused on the question of what urban centers are going to look like in the coming decades. On a recent afternoon in San Francisco, we sat down with Bonatsos to talk about it. Our chat has been edited for length.

You see a lot of space being freed up, or repurposed, thanks to companies like Uber, which may make parking structures redundant, and Airbnb, which is beginning to put two- and three-star hotels out of business. As an investor, where do you see the opportunities as this shift takes place?

There are two buckets. The first is in helping cities to run more efficiently, and this is anything that’s happening in the background that you don’t notice until it breaks down – water management, parking, safety, energy stuff.

The second bucket is more consumer-facing, meaning products and services that make life better, easier, and more convenient for inhabitants of dense cites. Think of marketplaces to find roommates, or startups that can help you find physical storage, or hyper-local news that helps you understand what’s happening in the world around you.

How long do you think the transition will take? And do you think the buildings will be the same as today or new?

I think it will take ten to twenty years. And it feels to me that in the Western World, if you and I were to find ourselves in downtown San Francisco 30 years from now, most the buildings would be the same. I don’t see a lot of new inventory coming in. But buildings will need to be repurposed. [In addition to Uber and Airbnb], if Amazon continues to eat up [more of our discretionary spending], what’s going to happen to all the department stores? If self-driving happens, what does that mean for streets and parking lots?

What do you think the implications of self-driving will be for city centers?

I don’t know if whether self-driving cars, when they happen 10 or 25 years down the road, will mean that cities will be more dense or not. You could argue it either way. The cost of transportation will go to zero, and it will be become either entertaining or productive for you to commute.

There may also be a consumer preference component, where the introverts are going to find themselves living in the suburbs, and the extroverts will be hanging out in downtown areas.

More here.

New Fundings

Active AI, a year-old, Singapore-based startup whose chatbot helps banks interact with their customers, has raised $3 million in funding from IDG Ventures India and Kalaari Capital. Tech in Asia has more here.

ElasticRun, a 1.5-year-old, Pune, India-based startup building a “next generation technology that will empower the e-commerce and distribution industry of India,” has raised $2 million in seed funding from Kalaari Capitaland Norwest Venture Partners. Tech in Asia has more here.

Intent Solutions, a two-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based creator of a medication dispenser, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from undisclosed investors. More here.

Nutmeg, a six-year-old, London-based online investment management service, has raised £30 million ($37.5 million) in new funding led by the Hong Kong-based independent financial advisory firm Convoy, with participation from earlier backers Schroders, Balderton Capital, Pentech, Armada Investment Group, and Nigel Wray. TechCrunch has more here.

PERQ, a 15-year-old, Indianapolis, Ia.-based marketing and ad tech company, has raised $1.7 million in funding from 4G Ventures. Xconomy has more here.

Quantopian, a five-year-old, Boston-based online platform that strives to turn anyone into a successful quantitative analyst, has raised $25 million in Series C funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Point72 Ventures, Khosla Ventures, and Spark Capital. VentureBeat has more here.

Roofstock, a year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based online marketplace for single family rentals, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from Khosla Ventures, Bain Capital Ventures, Nyca Partners, QED Investors, and SV Angel. More here.

Talent Garden, a five-year-old, Milan, Italy-based co-working space company, has raised €12 million ($13 million) in funding from investors including Endeavor Catalyst, 500 Startups and Italy’s largest investment bank, Tamburi Investment Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Vacasa, a seven-year-old, Portland, Ore. tech-enabled vacation rental platform, has raised $5 million in funding from Assurant, a risk management provider. The capital brings the company’s Series A round to $40 million. More here.

Zugata, a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based startup whose software automatically figures out who employees work with most, then helps them gather feedback from each other without involving managers or HR departments, has raised $7 million in Series A from Canaan Partners, General Catalyst and Redpoint Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

Homestead Capital, a San Francisco-based investment firm that’s focused on acquiring diversified farmland assets in the U.S, has raised $400 million for its new fund, just 15 months after closing its debut fund with $173 million. The firm currently owns a portfolio of farms across 11 states that produce 16 different crops. The WSJ has more here.

Long Hill Capital Management, a Shanghai, China-based venture capital firm, has closed its inaugural fund with $125 million in commitments. Long Hill is managed by Xiaodong Jiang and Bo Jiang, who previously led the China investing practice for New Enterprise Associates. Their firm invests in early-stage healthcare and consumer services companies based in China. More here.


Bob Grady, a well-regarded longtime venture capitalist and private equity investor who has been splitting his time in recent years between homes in Wyoming and San Francisco, is reportedly on Trump’s short list for either Energy Secretary or Interior Secretary.

Wall Street veteran and former Citigroup CFO Sallie Krawcheck — currently the CEO and cofounder of Ellevest — tries arguing why Donald Trump’s presidency may ultimately be one of the best thing for feminism.

Geoff Lewis, a partner at Peter Thiel’s venture firm Founders Fund, broke with Thiel yesterday, writing in a blog post that he’s fearful of Donald Trump’s presidency and that he thinks the technology industry bears some of the blame for Trump’s rise. Bloomberg has more here.

On Saturday, “Silicon Valley” stars Kumail Nanjiani and Thomas Middleditchreported on Twitter that they’d been harassed and invited “outside” by two twentysomethings over their public opposition to Trump. The Washington Post has more here.

Essential Reads

In a dramatic about-face, Airbnb says it is ready to police its San Francisco hosts, taking actions it has long resisted as invasive, unrealistic or unwieldy.

The reviews of Apple‘s new MacBook Pro are in. The verdict? Meh.

Gizmodo claims Facebook chose not to take steps to suppress fake news earlier this year because it would have “disproportionately impacted right-wing news sites by downgrading or removing that content from people’s feeds.” More here.

Donald Trump “will be condemned for his recklessness, ignorance and incompetence” if he imposes tariffs, says a Communist party-controlled newspaper. The Guardian has more here.


Centuries of preserved shipwrecks, found in the Black Sea. (H/T: FiveThirtyEight.)

New photos of the house where the Obamas plan to spend the next several years.

Rest in peace, Gwen Ifill. You will be missed.

Retail Therapy

Artist Residence, for when you’re finally ready to write that novel.

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