StrictlyVC: December 1, 2016

Hi, everyone, we’re on a plane tonight and not exactly sure when we’ll be able to publish SVC tomorrow, so, er, we’ll surprise you(?).

Hope you have a very happy Thursday!

Top News in the A.M.

AngelList, the matchmaking platform for investors and startups, has just bought Product Hunt, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based platform where people vote on startup products. Terms aren’t being disclosed. Product Hunt had raised roughly $7 million from investors, including Andreessen Horowitz. Product Hunt had been rumored to be seeking new funding in recent months, though “this was just the better option,” founder Ryan Hoover tells TechCrunch. More here.

Apple is releasing its AirPods in the “next few weeks,” says CEO Tim Cook.

Entrepeneurs Sense Power Shifting Back to VCs, Says First Round Survey

The early-stage venture firm First Round Capital just published its second-ever State of Startups report, and it’s chock full of interesting sentiments from a survey of more than 700 founders — some of whom have ties to the early-stage venture firm and some who operate outside it.

Taken altogether, it suggests that founders remain highly optimistic about their chances of success, but they also sense that some of their leverage has slipped away when it comes to dealing with investors and raising subsequent rounds of follow-on funding.

Here’s a link to the complete survey.

Among what we think are its most interesting findings:

* Nearly one in five(!) founders think their company will eventually be worth a billion dollars or more.

* First Round asked founders to write in the name of the one company they’d want to acquire their startup. Out of 150 companies named, Alphabet rose to the top as the most sought-after acquirer.

*For the second year running, founders pointed to investors as having negotiating power, with two-thirds (67 percent) of all respondents saying investors will hold more sway. Last year, 54 percent of respondents felt similarly.

More here.

New Fundings

Dashbot, a months-old, San Francisco-based startup that offers bot-specific analytics and tools to enable brands and developers to increase user acquisition, engagement, and monetization, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by ff Venture Capital, with participation from Bessemer Venture Partners, Samsung Accelerator, Scrum Ventures, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, and Rembrandt Ventures. More here.

Geenee, a two-year-old, Berlin-based startup that employs image recognition to software to enable Instagram users to purchase items by clicking on them, has raised $4.4 million in Series A funding from Highlight Communications, Constantin Media, Stephen Cohen and Steve Titus, among others. TechCrunch has more here.

Glossier, a two-year-old, New-York based online beauty brand known for its brow gels and serums, has raised a $24 million in Series B funding led by Institutional Venture Partners, with participation from Index Ventures. The company has now raised just more than $35 million altogether. WWD has more here.

Opendoor, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup on a mission to make residential real estate liquid, has raised a whopping $210 million in Series D funding led by Norwest Venture Partners, with participation from New Enterprise Associates, Khosla Ventures, GGV Capital, Access Industries, FifthWall, Lakestar, SVB Capital, Caffeinated Capital and Felicis Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Osterhout Design Group, a 17-year-old, San Francisco-based augmented reality company that’s been quietly shipping smart glasses for years, has raised $58 million in Series A led by 21st Century Fox, with participation from Shenzhen O-film Tech Co., Vanfund Urban Investment & Development Co. and some individual investors. TechCrunch has more here.
Qstream, an eight-year-old, Burlington, Ma.-based maker of sales acceleration software, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Polaris Partners, with participation by existing investors Frontline Ventures, Launchpad Venture Group, and Excel Venture Management. The company has now raised $23 million altogether. More here.
SQZ Biotech, a three-year-old, Watertown, Ma.-based biotech startup that’s developing a new generation of cell therapies that harness the body’s natural immune system, has tacked on $8 million in fresh funding to a previously closed Series B financing round. The new capital comes from GV and Quark Venturesand adds to $16 million that was previously led by NanoDimension and Polaris Partners in September. More here.

WorkRamp, a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based employee training platform company, has raised $1.8 million in seed funding led by Susa Ventures, with participation from Initialized Capital, Joe Montana, Y Combinator, and Haystack. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

Founder Collective, a seven-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based seed-stage venture fund, has closed its third fund with $75 million in capital from a small group of limited partners whose anchor investors are the the firm’s three partners: David Frankel, Micah Rosenbloom and Eric Paley. “Unlike most funds, the partners are, in fact, the single-largest investor in [our new fund]. So when entrepreneurs take our money, it’s really our money,” says Rosenbloom, who earlier in his career co-founded a 3D imaging startup that sold to 3M. Given Founder Collective’s success to date, we’re guessing that’s very much by choice. More here.
Three members of the senior investing team at Genesis Partners, a major Israeli venture firm, are launching their own, new, early-stage fund called F2 Capital. According to TechCrunch, the partners are in the midst of closing a $50 million debut fund that will back seed-stage companies. More here.

(Other) Exits

Comcast‘s Fandango is acquiring the Latin American ticketing serviceCinepapaya for undisclosed terms. According to CrunchBase, Cinepapaya had raised at least $3 milion from investors, which include 500 Startups, Wayra, and SP Global Capital. The WSJ notes that the deal is expected to give Fandango another foothold in the growing Latin American market, where there are few screens relative to the population — and a major appetite for moviegoing. More here.

Fitbit, the leader in the fitness band market, is near a deal to acquire smartwatch maker Pebble, according to The Information. The price isn’t being disclosed, but it’s thought to be for a small amount, given that Pebble had been looking to sell. Pebble had raised roughly $15 million from CRV, along with angel investors Paul Buchheit and Tim Draper. (It also famously raised many millions through crowdsourcing campaigns.) More here.


David “Big Papi” Ortiz, along with a star-studded group of other former baseball players, are launching Dugout Ventures, a private-equity fund that will focus on companies manufacturing the next generation of baseball equipment. Other investors in the fund include Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan and Barry Larkin, as well as retired players Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter. The WSJ has more here.

Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian ever, is looking to join the long list of successful athletes turned investors. At the Intuit software conference in San Jose, Phelps told the the Associated Press, “I would love to get involved . . . Whether it’s in a couple little startups here and there, take a little risk, have some fun and see where it goes.” USA Today has more here.

Peter Thiel makes a (ceremonial) move.


Capital One Growth Ventures is in the market for a venture associate. The job is in San Francisco.

Eastlink Capital, an early-stage venture firm, is looking to bring aboard a partner-track senior associate or principal. The job is in Menlo Park, Ca. Send queries to

Essential Reads

Russia is building its own Silicon Valley in beautiful . . . Siberia.

Nationalist trolls are destroying Reddit.

Apple plans to use drones and new indoor navigation features to improve its Maps service and catch longtime leader Google, says Bloomberg.

Owing to Donald Trump’s decision to appoint former Brietbart chairman Steve Bannon to his administration, a growing number of ad-tech companies are pulling the plug on the site’s access to advertising dollars via their systems, says AdWeek.

More bad news for Zenefits; it was just ruled illegal in the state of Washington.


Candian police have a cruel new punishment for suspected drunk drivers:Listening to Nickelback.

Napolean Dynamite and Pedro reunite over cheesy tots.

Wait long enough, homeowner, and you can hit the jackpot.

Retail Therapy

Louis Gray quilts. So we will take them all and also the pillows.

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