StrictlyVC: December 20, 2016

Hi, everyone! We’re on the move this a.m.; if there are loads of typos, that’s why.:)

Happy Tuesday…

Top News in the A.M.

Good news for the Honest Company: the Los Angeles Superior Court has dismissed a six-month-old suit filed against the company by the industry nonprofit Organic Consumers Association, which alleged that Honest’s infant formula was falsely labeled as organic. The judgement determined that if anyone is to blame, it’s the federal government, which certified that the product could be labeled as organic. Forbes has more here.

TPG is Raising $2 Billion for a Social Impact Fund Called Rise

Bill McGlashan, who oversees TPG Growth — the growth investing platform of the global firm TPG — is reportedly fundraising right now for a $2 billion vehicle called Rise that will seek both financial and social returns.

He tells Dealbook the fund was inspired by bets TPG Growth has already made, including in a cellphone tower company in Myanmar called Apollo Towers that helped the country progress from zero cellphone penetration to roughly 70 percent, which has translated into 5 percent G.D.P. growth — as well as doubled the value of TPG’s investment.

McGlashan has enlisted some high-wattage names as board members in order to help sway investors. Among them, says Dealbook: Bono; eBay founder Pierre Omidyar; Jeff Skoll, who served as the first president of eBay; Laurene Powell Jobs; Richard Branson; Reid Hoffman; Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments; philanthropist Lynne Benioff; and investor Mo Ibrahim.

According to the report, so far, “at least two large pension funds and one sovereign wealth fund have committed nine figure sums.”

McGlashan has led TPG Growth since 2003. The unit, within 23-year-old TPG Capital, had begun life with a $500 million venture fund in 1999. (At the time, it was one of the largest-ever first time funds.) Then the market famously crashed, and McGlashan was brought in to head up a new, growth-fund strategy.

In a chat with StrictlyVC last year, McGlashan noted that TPG Growth now invests typically in between 10 and 15 companies each year where it can accelerate the business.

More here.

New Fundings

Appetize, a five-year-old, Play Vista, Ca.-based point-of-sale platform company, has raised more than $20 million in funding led by Shamrock Capital Advisors, with participation from individual investors. More here.
Dynamic Yield, a five-year-old, New York-based company offering tools to help online businesses deliver personalized experiences, has raised $22 million in Series C funding ed by Vertex and ClalTech, with participation from new investors Baidu and Global Founders Capital, as well as previous backers Bessemer Venture Partners, Marker LLP and Innovation Endeavors. TechCrunch has more here.

eSUB Construction Software, an eight-year-old, San Diego-based startup whose cloud-based project management apps help subcontractors track and get compensated for all the work they do on construction jobs, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Revolution Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

iPrice, an 18-month-old, Malayia-based e-commerce aggregation service that’s active in seven countries in Southeast Asia, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by earlier backers Asia Venture Group and Venturra Capital, with participation from Gobi Partners, DMP, Econa and Starstrike Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

LaunchDarkly, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based online platform that controls when people see new features and who gets to see them, has raised $8.7 million in fresh funding led by DFJ, with Softech VC and Bloomberg Beta following on. TechCrunch has more here.

LeanData, a 4.5-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based TKTKTK, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Sapphire Ventures, with participation from previous backers Shasta Ventures and Correlation Ventures. More here.

Preservica, a four-year-old, Oxfordshire, England-based digital preservation technology company that helps its clients safeguard and share their digital content, has raised roughly $3.8 million in funding from Mobeus Equity Partners. More here.
SuperFlex, a year-old, Bay Area-based company developing what it calls powered clothing (think custom garments embedded with flexible electric motors that help wearers with tasks like lifting heavy leads to even just walking around), has raised $9.6 million in Series A funding from Global Brain, Horizons Ventures, Root Ventures, Sinovation Ventures, and SRI. TechCrunch has the story here.

Yeahmobi, a five-year-old, Hunan, China-based mobile performance marketing network, has raised roughly $100 million in funding, according to a blog post on the company’s site. Investors include Beijing Bohai Tongxin Private Equity Fund, Nanjing Huawen Hongsheng Startup Investment Fund and Shenzhen Qianhai Bochuang Private Equity Fund. More here.

Zoomcar, a nearly four-year-old, Bangalore, India-based car rental company allowing individuals to rent by the hour or day, has raised an undisclosed amount of investment from the Chinese venture capital firm Cyber Carrier, expanding its Series B round. VCCircle has more here.


The venture-backed online lender SoFi, which specializes in refinancing student loans, is pushing back plans for an IPO in order to focus on developing other business lines, says CEO Mike Cagney. Meanwhile, the company hasn’t yet closed a $500 million funding round, an effort that has SoFi courting international investors to purchase loans and potentially take an equity stake at the same time. Bloomberg has the story here.


Yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the company’s internal messaging system to tell employees why he met with Trump last week at that lil’ tech summit. Writes Cook: “Personally, I’ve never found being on the sideline a successful place to be. The way that you influence these issues is to be in the arena. So whether it’s in this country, or the European Union, or in China or South America, we engage. And we engage when we agree and we engage when we disagree. I think it’s very important to do that because you don’t change things by just yelling. You change things by showing everyone why your way is the best.” TechCrunch has much more here.

George Polisner, who has spent roughly 16 years of his life at Oracle over two separate stints, said he is resigning from the company because of Oracle CEO Safra Catz’s recent decision to join Trump’s transition team. Says Polisner about his very public resignation, “I am not with President-elect Trump and I am not here to help him in any way. In fact, when his policies border on the unconstitutional, the criminal and the morally unjust, I am here to oppose him in every possible and legal way.” More here.


The $100 million Samsung Catalyst Fund is looking to bring aboard an investment director. The job is in Menlo Park, Ca.

For founder readers: We understand that Expa, the startup studio founded by Uber and StumbleUpon cofounder Garrett Camp (and quickly joined by Foursquare cofounder Naveen Selvaduraj and others), is quietly opening up its application pool at the end of January. As part of the program, companies trade 20 percent of their equity for $500,000 in funding and inclusion in Expa Labs’s six-month residential program (and, presumably, ongoing access to Camp and the others). If you’re interested, you might want to bookmark this link.


According to new Pew Research about shopping online, it’s not necessarily the convenience of being able to click a few buttons to have products shipped to your door that consumers said was most appealing: it’s cost and the ability to research those costs and other matters more efficiently across the web ahead of their purchase. TechCrunch has more here.

Someone leaked Uber‘s financials for the first nine months this year to Bloomberg. You can check out its revenue and its losses here.

Essential Reads

Despite warnings about a “right hook” turning problem can cause collisions with cyclists, Uber put its self-driving vehicles in circulation anyway. The company says it is aware of the “problem,” and as a stop-gap measure, has instructed human drivers to take over when they approach a right turn on a street with a bike lane.
How Apple alienated Mac loyalists.


A teardown of Apple’s AirPods. (It isn’t pretty.)

Thirty-one, pretty solid last-minute gifts on Amazon for the people you almost forgot.

Retail Therapy

Six special-edition spirits for the serious collector, priced $23,000 and up.

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