StrictlyVC: January 25, 2017

Wednesday! Yes, we’re very late. Just know we did not forget you!

Top News in the A.M.

So much for the first big tech IPO of the year. As you’ve likely heard, Cisco has snapped up software developer AppDynamics for $3.7 billion on the eve of its IPO. That stinks for other pre-IPO companies hoping to use it as a weather gage; it’s great for early investors, given the premium they’re seeing over the $1.9 billion valuation AppDynamics was assigned in late 2015. Either way, if you’re wondering what happened, TechCrunch says investment bank Qatalyst Partners — an M&A specialist — injected itself into the process at the eleventh hour.

A Cross-Border Investor Ponders What’s Next, as U.S.-China Relations Grow Frosty

President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to launch a trade war with China, threats that the country is beginning to take ever more seriously.

Over at GGV Capital, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm that’s been actively investing in China for more than 15 years, managing director Hans Tung seems to be watching the jockeying with some wonderment – and patience.

The China native suggests he’s taking his cues from his network, including in Shanghai and Beijing, where GGV has offices. “China isn’t so much concerned with [President Trump yet]; they understand that he can turn right one day and turn left the next to win support. The general thinking is: Let’s see what happens when it comes to actual negotiations. I think the [Chinese government] doesn’t want to overreact in any given moment.”

In a call yesterday, Tung also referred repeatedly to Jack Ma, the founder and CEO of the e-commerce giant Alibaba, a firm that GGV backed in its earlier days. Ma had said last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos that China should give Trump some time to settle in, adding that a “trade war would be a disaster for the world.”

Ma said he felt so passionately that, given a theoretical choice between keeping his company alive or averting a trade war he would “shut Alibaba down.” (That’s not simple theatrics, seemingly. Ma stated his concerns about a trade war in August, telling CNN, “We should keep on going along the path of globalization. Globalization is good . . . when trade stops, war comes.”)

Tung yesterday suggested that China is largely being made a scapegoat by Trump – or sees things that way, in any case. The government “looks at how much the U.S. has spent on wars with Iraq and other things instead of creating jobs and boosting its own capabilities in the Rust Belt. China [will tell you it] never tried to steal jobs. If the U.S had done a better job of reinvesting its money and gotten multinationals to repatriate their money back to the U.S., it would be in much better shape.”

The big question specifically for Tung, who logs hundreds of thousands of miles each year traveling between the two countries, is how suddenly icy relations between the Trump administration and China could impact his own work.

He seems genuinely unconcerned for now.

More here.

New Fundings

Button, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based marketplace for app integrations, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Norwest Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers Redpoint Ventures, DCM, and Greycroft Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Cleo, a 15-month-old, London-based startup behind an AI-powered chatbot to help users manage their finances, has raised $700,000 in seed funding from a powerful list of angel investors, including Skype founder Niklas Zennström, Zoopla co-founder Alex Chesterman, and Wonga co-founder Errol Damelin. TechCrunch has more here.

Doctolib, a 3.5-year-old, Paris-baed online and mobile booking platform that helps users find specialist doctors nearby and book appointments, has raised $28 million in new funding led by Bpifrance, with participation from Ludwig Klitzsch and earlier backers Accel Partners, Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet and Nicolas Brusson. TechCrunch has more here.

KenSci, a 1.5-year-old, Seattle, Wa.-based healthcare data platform, has raised $8.5 million in Series A funding led by Ignition Partners, with participation from Osage University Partners and Mindset Ventures. The Seattle Times has more here.

Ring, a four-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based video doorbell and connected security device startup whose newest product is a video motion floodlight, has raised $109 million in Series D funding led by DFJ Growth, Goldman Sachs Investment Partners and Qualcomm Ventures. Other participants in the round include Sir Richard Branson, American Family Insurance, Shea Ventures, and True Ventures. The financing also includes “a small amount” of debt funding from Silicon Valley Bank, says the company. TechCrunch has more here.

SentinelOne, a four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based endpoint security company, has raised $70 million in Series C funding led by earlier investor Redpoint Ventures , with participation from Sound Ventures and earlier backers Third Point Ventures, Data Collective, Granite Hill Capital Partners, Westly Group, and SineWave Ventures. SentinelOne has now raised $110 million to date. TechCrunch has more here.

Vestiaire Collective, an eight-year-old, Paris-based e-commerce marketplace for clothing and fashion accessories, has raised $62 million in fresh funding led by Vitruvian Partners, with participation from earlier investors Eurazeo and Idinvest. TechCrunch has more here.


Greg Duffy, the cofounder and CEO of Dropcam, who came to both privately and publicly loathe Nest co-founder Tony Fadell after Nest acquired his company, has joined Apple in a role that neither Duffy or Apple are prepared to discuss. The Information has the scoop here.

Elon Musk seems to be serious about digging a tunnel from SpaceX’s Hawthorne, Ca., headquarters to destinations unknown for now.

Musk, now part of a group of business leaders who will be meeting at the White House quarterly to discuss manufacturing in the U.S., also believes longtime ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson would be an “excellent” U.S. Secretary of State.

Apparently, lawmakers in New Zealand are just as surprised as the rest of us that Peter Thiel quietly acquired citizenship in the country back in 2011.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has no plans to run for president, he told BuzzFeed News yesterday.


Samsung is looking to hire an investment manager to help with its $100 million Catalyst Fund (which looks to back startups focused on components and subsystems). The job is in Menlo Park, Ca.

Essential Reads

Computer scientists at Stanford set out to create an artificially intelligent diagnosis algorithm for skin cancer. It can now perform as well as dermatologists in identifying skin cancer. (The ubiquitous Sebastian Thrun was involved in this effort.)


The secret code of modern snobs.

The heroism of incremental care.

RIP, Mary Tyler Moore.

Retail Therapy

Keen to join Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach resort owned by the Trump Organization? Better save up; it just doubled its initiation fee to $200,000.

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