StrictlyVC: January 5, 2017

Hi, all, happy Thursday! No column today (we’ve been on serial calls), but we have some good stuff coming up.

Also! Don’t forget to nab your ticket to StrictlyVC’s upcoming event on Wednesday, February 8 if you haven’t already. We’ve had one scheduling change — Katrina Lake of Stitch Fix can no longer make it, alas —  but we’ll be announcing a new fireside soon. (It’ll be great.) A big fat thank you again to CrunchBase, Rosebud Communications, and Bolt for partnering with us on this event at the beautiful Autodesk Gallery in downtown SF. We couldn’t put together these evenings filled with great food for thought — and great food — without your support.:)

Top News in the A.M.

A former Snapchat employee says the company is misleading investors to drive up its IPO and that he was fired for being a whistleblower, according to a heavily redacted complaint filed yesterday in L.A. County Superior Court. The Hollywood Reporter has more here.
TechCrunch has tons of live CES coverage; if you’re missing out on the zaniness happening right now in Vegas, you can watch some of it here.

New Fundings

Avizia, a 3.5-year-old, Reston, Va.-based telehealth platform, has added $1 million to a previously closed Series A financing, bringing the total round to $18 million. Investors include Northwell Ventures, HealthQuest Capital, and the major health system NewYork-Presbyterian. More here.

Blockstack, a three-year-old, New York-based decentralized Internet and developer platform for secure, serverless apps, has raised $5.3 million in new funding led by earlier investor Union Square Ventures, shows a new SEC filing that was processed yesterday.  The company was formerly known as Onename. TechCrunch has more here.
Cerêve, an eight-year-old, Pittsburgh Pa.-based company that’s preparing to launch its FDA-cleared insomnia device, has raised $38 million in Series B funding led by KKR, with participation from Versant Ventures, Arboretum Ventures, and Partner Ventures. More here.

Chushou TV, a six-year-old, China-based mobile video live streaming platform specialized in mobile games, has raised $58 million in new funding led by GGV Capital and Shunwei Capital, with participation from Qiming Venture Partners and Feidian Capital. China Money Network has more here.

ClearScholar, a year-old, Indianapolis, In.-based mobile student engagement platform, has raised $1.25 million in seed funding from High Alpha Capital, Elevate Ventures, Butler University, Cindy and Paul Skjodt through Bulle Investments, and Stephen Simon, co-founder of Simon Equity Partners. More here.

Exact Imaging, a 13-year-old, Markham, Canada-based maker of micro-ultrasound systems that are used for prostate biopsies, has raised C$21.5 million ($16 million) in Series C funding co-led by Lumira Capital and Vesalius Biocapital, with participation from Participatiemaatschappij Vlaanderen and earlier backers iGan Partners and Rowanwood Ventures.

Fugue, a four-year-old, Frederick, Md.-based operating system for managing cloud-based workloads, has raised $41 million in Series D funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from Maryland Venture Fund and Future Fund. SiliconAngle has more here.

Klipfolio, a 15-year-old, Ottawa, Canada-based maker of cloud-based business intelligence dashboards, has raised C$12 million ($9 million) in Series B funding led by OMERS Ventures. Other participants in the round include BDC Capital, Mistral Venture Partners, Fundfire, Boldstart Ventures, Acadia Woods, and Converge Venture Partners. BetaKit has more here.

Molecular Stethoscope, a year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based biotechnology company that’s developing blood-based early detection and disease monitoring tests, has raised $8.2 million in seed financing from DCVC, Pfizer, Index Ventures, and unnamed “top five” U.S.-based research university and unnamed individual investors. More here.

Namely, a four-year-old, New York-based SaaS HR firm that focuses on mid-sized companies and offers both payroll and benefits services, has raised $50 million in additional Series D funding that brings the round to $80 million. This newest financing was led by Altimeter Capital and Scale Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners, and True Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Neon Therapeutics, a year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based immuno-oncology company that’s developing therapeutic vaccines and therapies to treat cancer, has raised $70 million in Series B funding led by the hedge fund Partner Fund Management, with participation from Third Rock Ventures, Access Industries, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Wellington Management Company, Inbio Ventures, and Nextech Invest. Xconomy has more here.
OmniActive Health Technologies, an 11-year-old, Mumbai, India-based supplier of naturally sourced ingredients for eye health, weight management, and heart health, has raised $35 million in funding from the Everstone Group. FinSMEs has more here., a 10-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company that sells online reputation management services, has raised $20 million in new funding led by Ascension Ventures. Other participants in the round include earlier backers August Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, Icon Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Focus Ventures. According to CrunchBase, the company has previously raised at least $67 million from investors. More here.

Rethink Robotics, an eight-year-old, Boston-based company that develops robots for production and research environments, has raised $18 million as part of a Series E round. Investors include the private equity investment firm Adveq, as well as earlier backers Bezos Expeditions, CRV, Highland Capital Partners, Sigma Partners, DFJ, Two Sigma Ventures, GE Ventures and Goldman Sachs. Robotics & Automation News has more here.

New Funds

Better Ventures, an Oakland-based seed-stage venture firm that focuses on triple-bottom-line startups, has raised $21 million for its second fund, according to TechCrunch. More here.


If Snapchat’s parent company Snap Inc. goes public this year as expected, some employees will find themselves holding stock worth millions of dollars. But much of their newfound wealth will quickly vanish, reports The Information. Here’s why.


Last year DJI took a minority stake in Hasselblad, the iconic Swedish camera company. Now, numerous outlets are reporing that DJI has decided to acquire a majority stake in the company. More here.


Interesting: Ralph Diaz, long the global director retail operations for Oakley, has joined Snap Inc. in the new role of Head of Retail Store Operations. (H/T: Biz Carson.)
Kimbal Musk — brother of serial entrepreneur Elon Musk — just opened a shipping container farm compound in New York City. Business Insider has more here.

According to a surprise news release issued yesterday, Craig Venter, founder and CEO of the genomics-driven healthcare company Human Longevity, will be stepping down from his post this coming Monday, to be replaced by former GE Healthcare executive Cindy Collins. According to MedCity News, Venter revealed last month that he’d undergone surgery for prostrate cancer; the company says his health didn’t play a role in the announcement.

According to a blog post authored yesterday by Medium CEO Ev Williams, his well-funded startup is laying off 50 employees in non-engineering roles and shuttering its offices in New York and Washington, D.C. Bloomberg has more here.


Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America is looking for a strategy and innovation analyst to help it develop an incubator. The job is in the Bay Area.

Essential Reads

At CES, it’s become clear that Amazon is trying to get Alexa, its voice-powered assistant, into everything.

Amazon is also taking this apparel thing seriously, with Reuters reporting this morning that the e-commere juggernaut is in the running to acquire bankrupt American Apparel.

But wait, there’s more! Amazon is also opening a 4,000-square foot bookstore at Columbus Circle, at the edge of Central Park. (Strange times.)

Meanwhile, in other company news: Didi is backing another Uber rival; this time it’s Brazi’s ride-hailing service 99. As Recode reports, Didi is leading a $100 million round in the company and joining its board.
The U.S. Department of Labor is suing Google to obtain compensation data from the company, a federal contractor that’s required to let the government review documents to show it’s in compliance with equal employment laws but hasn’t complied to date. TechCrunch has more here.


This 105-year-old is in better shape than we are. (He credits fruits, vegetables, and a good night’s sleep.)

China isn’t so crazy about the Donald’s pick for chief trade negotiator, with state media warning this morning that there are “big sticks” awaiting Americans.

Poor Brownies. New research shows that one in three(!) pass attempts ends with their quarterback on the ground.

Retail Therapy

Consol Solar Jars. (Bright idea.)

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