StrictlyVC: November 9, 2016

Hi, everyone. We know you don’t open StrictlyVC for our political opinion. We’ll just say that we’re stunned like so many others by what happened last night; like a lot of you, we’re still processing it all. (We’ve spent much of the day watching CNN for the first time since this country’s last election.)

As Hillary Clinton suggested in a concession speech a little earlier today, let’s all of us hope that Donald Trump will be a successful president for all Americans. Forward we go into the great unknown.

Top News in the A.M.

Silicon Valley reacts to Trump’s win with disbelief, outrage, fear and . . . a secession plan?

“He’s a Startup That Disrupted the Establishment”

Fabrice Grinda, a longtime New Yorker, has helped create hundreds of jobs for Americans and others. Among the companies he has started is OLX, one of the largest free classifieds sites in the world — one that was acquired over time by the African conglomerate Naspers for $250 million.

Grinda more recently cofounded Beepi, the peer-to-peer used car marketplace based in California; Rebagg, a New York-based platform that buys high-end luxury bags from their owners for cash; and InstaCarro, a Sao Paulo, Brazil-based car-buying service that will buy individuals’ cars for cash in an hour’s time.

Grinda and longtime business partner, Jose Marin, also plug between $15 million and $20 million of their own capital into startups each year through their joint vehicle, FJ Labs.

But though he sounds it, Grinda isn’t American. He doesn’t have dual citizenship. He’s “pure French.” He just happened to head to Princeton at age 17, and he hasn’t much wanted to leave the East Coast since.

So what does this European make of a new U.S. president who has Silicon Valley on edge? Because he’s a global operator and because he doesn’t live in the Bay Area, we talked with Grinda earlier today about President-elect Trump and whether he’s concerned about what comes next.

How did the U.S. election just change the picture?

Public market investors, limited partners in venture funds and private equity firms — they don’t like uncertainty. What they don’t know is the actual set of policies coming down the line that could impact them going forward. What will be his tax policy? What will his administration regulate and deregulate? It’s not like [Trump’s team] came forward with a well-thought-out set of policy proposals. It was all kind of vacuous. So I think investors will be more cautious until they understand what a Trump presidency means.

Do you think it could impact you personally?

I don’t spend much time thinking about politics. I’m not sure it has a real impact on day-to-day life. It’s a large part of the reason I’m on the Internet. I like its deregulated, fast-moving nature.

Yet there could easily be consequences. People worry, for example, that for the sake of creating more American jobs, Trump might somehow slow tech, including self-driving technologies.

There’s no hard data regarding what is going to be done. My only concerns are around the uncertainty.

What do you make of Trump, the candidate, and soon, the president?

I dislike the guy. I dislike populism and most of the things he said and much of what he stands for. I’m pro immigration and probably more socially liberally than anyone I know. But look, he’s a startup who has disrupted the establishment. He used a lot of the same tactics that a startup would use to get free press, frankly. He created a story that was compelling enough that he garnered press all the time and so had much lower acquisition costs than the other candidates. Jeb Bush was paying something like $5,000 per voter in the GOP primaries, where Trump was paying about $300.

In startup terms, he had an effective distribution and a marketing strategy and messaging that people found compelling. I think he proved the adage that any press is good press. And the establishment only realized this was dangerous once it was too late.

More here.

New Fundings

Buster, a four-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based consumer charter bus, limo andd van reservation platform, has raised $1.1 million in funding led by individal investors and earlier backers General Catalyst Partners, Allen & Company, and Priceline veterans Jeff Boyd and Bob Mylod. The company has now raised $3.8 million altogether. More here.
Castle, a two-year-old, San Francisco company that provides account takeover protection, raised $2 million in seed financing led by First Round Capital, with participation from F-Prime Capital, FundersClub, and numerous angel investors. More here.

Hired, a four-year-old San Francisco-based career marketplace for tech talent, has raised an additional $30 million in Series C funding that brings the round’s total to $70 million. Investors include The Glenmede Trust and the Ontario Pension Fund. More here.
Motionsoft, a Rockville, Md.-based maker of gym management and billing software, has raised $6 million in Series C investment from its existing investors, including Route 66 Ventures, Edison Partners, and company co-founders Al Noshirvani and Hossein Noshirvani. More here.

Square Yards, a three-year-old, Gurgaon, India-based real estate consulting company, has raised $12 million in funding from Reliance Group. More here.

RetireUp, a four-year-old, Chicago-based company that makes software for retirement income planning, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Annexus Ventures. FinSMES has more here.
The Wing, a year-old, New York-based multi-purpose space and women’s club, has raised $2.4 million in funding, including from SoulCycle founders Julie Riceand Elizabeth Cutler, Birchbox cofounder Hayley Barna, BBG Ventures, Equinox CEO Harvey Spevak, and investor Steve Case. Forbes has more here.

Wurk, a year-old, Denver-based startup that helps cannabis businesses comply with regulators, raised $1 million in seed funding from Arcview Group, CanopyBoulder, and Poseidon Asset Management. TechCrunch has more here.


OneLogin, a company that provides identity management in the cloud, is acquiring Sphere Secure Workspace to add mobile device management to its identity-driven security model. Sphere Secure Workspace appears to have raised a nominal amount of seed funding from the cyber security accelerator CyLon. TechCrunch has more here.


A Baidu vice president who was considered one of the company’s rising stars has resigned after claims by the company he had improper conflicts of interest. Li Mingyuan, who is in his early 30s, led the company’s mobile and cloud business. The WSJ has the story here.

Two executives have quietly left the chat app company Slack, reports Business Insider. Anne Toth, the company’s head of HR who was also the company’s head of policy, left at the end of September, though her LinkedIn profile has not yet been changed to show her departure or her next gig. Creative Director Mark Lawson has also left after about eight months on the job. More here.

Silicon Valley’s best-known Donald Trump supporter — Peter Thiel — issued a statement earlier on Trump’s historic win. Business Insider has more here.


NatureBox, the online delivery service that delivers natural snacks to consumers’ doors, is looking to hire an analyst/chief of staff. The job is in Redwood City, Ca. You can reach out directly to CEO Guatam Gupta, at
Touchdown Ventures, a two-year-old firm that partners with leading corporations to help establish and manage their venture capital programs, is looking to hire a venture capital analyst. The job is in San Francisco.

Essential Reads

SoftBank has cut the value of two of its largest startup investments in India – Ola and Snapdeal, writing off a total of $550 million in the value of its shares in the companies. As a result, the valuation of the companies in the domestic market will fall, too. Tech in Asia has more here.

Walgreens invested about $140 million in Theranos; now it wants that much back in damages.

Did Donald Trump win because of Facebook?


Clinton’s data-driven campaign relied heavily on an algorithm named Ada. What didn’t it see?

Retail Therapy

We are trying all of these as soon as we hit “publish.”

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