StrictlyVC: February 16, 2017

We made it through another visit to the symphony with 44 seven-year-olds, but just barely. Thanks to those of you who nicely pointed out that yesterday was not, in fact, Tuesday. For the newer reader who wondered yesterday if we’re a bunch of stoners, we wish. (Who has time?)

Top News in the A.M.

Snap, parent of messaging service Snapchat, has set the price range for its IPO and it’s seeking a a valuation of between $16.20 billion and $18.52 billion. That’s roughly 10 percent below expectations, which has industry observers wondering about its motivations. Either way, it gives the company the richest valuation in a U.S. tech IPO since Alibaba (and, before that, Facebook). Reuters has more here.

Atomico Just Closed on $765 Million, Its Biggest Fund Yet

Atomico has closed its fourth fund with $765 million, making it one of Europe’s single largest venture capital funds.

The firm began raising the fund eleven months ago (we’d flagged it for you after searching the SEC filings). And while it represents a sizable step up from Atomico’s third fund, which closed with $476.6 million in 2013, its pace of fundraising highlights a major difference between Europe and the U.S., where LPs often feel pressured into committing quickly to top funds.

Investors had plenty of reason to be excited about Atomico. Its current stakes include Finnish game maker Rovio, as well as the “unicorn” payments company Klarna and the travel site GoEuro. It also saw huge wins when Climate Corp. sold to Monsanto for roughly $1 billion in 2013 and again last year when early portfolio company Supercell sold a majority stake in its business to China’s Tencent for $8.6 billion.

But general partner Mattias Ljungman notes that the U.S. has a “much longer tradition” of investing in venture capital firms. Meanwhile, institutions in Europe are “sort of now starting to look at it. If you compare it with private equity [where investors tend to buy and sell entire companies], that also took time in Europe.” He says. “But once investors started to understand it, the amount of capital they began deploying became significant and even outpaced what we saw in the U.S.”

Atomico thinks European venture capital could reach the same kind of breakout velocity at some point. In the meantime, the firm — originally founded by Skype cofounder Niklas Zennstrom — is now one of the best-funded firms in Europe, with its central office in London but people on the ground in Beijing, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, New York and Stockholm (where Ljungman happened to be when we spoke).

Atomico also now offers some of the most extensive services to its portfolio companies, it likes to note.

More here.

New Fundings

Brightwheel, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based mobile platform that provides teachers with tools for learning, communication, and photo sharing, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by GGV Capital, with participation from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, ICONIQ, and Brightwheel’s earlier backers. These include Eniac Ventures, Golden Venture Partners, Lowercase Capital, RRE Ventures, and numerous individuals, including Mark Cuban. TechCrunch has more here.

Dermata Therapeutics, a three-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based biotechnology company that’s developing new products to treat a variety of dermatological diseases, has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding, with an agreement with its (undisclosed investors) that it will receive another $2.5 million as part of the round if it meets certain specified milestones. The company has separately secured $5 million in debt from Silicon Valley Bank. More here.

Lytro, a 10.5-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based company that has changed course over time and is today developing cinema-level camera systems, just raised $60 million in Series D funding led by Blue Pool Capital. Other participants in the round include EDBI, Foxconn, Huayi Brothers and Starwood Capital Group chairman Barry Sternlicht. TechCrunch has more here.

MobiTV, a 17-year-old, Emeryville, Ca.-based company whose platform delivers live and on-demand video to any screen, has raised $21 million in funding from Oak Investment Partners and Ally Corporate Finance, says Fortune. More here.

OpenFin, a 6.5-year-old, New York-based startup focused on helping financial services firms update their technology infrastructure, has raised $15 million in funding led by J.P. Morgan. Other participants in the round include Bain Capital Ventures, Euclid Opportunities (the venture funding arm of NEX Group), DRW Venture Capital, Nyca Partners, Pivot Investment Partners, and angel investors. VentureBeat has more here.

Ozobot, a four-year-old, Redondo Beach, Ca.-based company that makes a programmable toy robot, has raised $3 million in Series A funding led by Tribeca Venture Partners, with participation from ZICO Coconut Water founder Mark Rampolla, and others. TechCrunch has more here.

Rhythm, a 6.5-year-old, Boston, Ma.-based biopharmaceutical company that’s developing peptide therapeutics for rare genetic deficiencies that result in life-threatening metabolic disorders, has raised $41 million in funding from earlier backers Deerfield Management, Ipsen, OrbiMed, MPM Capital, New Enterprise Associates, Pfizer Venture Investments, Third Rock Ventures, and an undisclosed public healthcare investment fund. More here.

SolarisBank, a 1.5-year-old, Berlin-based banking-as-a-platform startup, has raised €30 million ($32 million) in Series B funding from German and U.K. venture capital firms, including Index Ventures. Banking Technology has more here.

TetraVue, a nine-year-old, Carlsbad, Ca.-based company that’s developing high-resolution 3D measurement and imaging technology, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Robert Bosch Venture Capital and Nautilus Venture Partners. Samsung Catalyst Fund and Foxconn also joined the round. More here.

Top Hat, an eight-year-old, Ontario, Ca.-based company whose interactive software helps college professors engage students over their own devices, has raised $22.5 million in Series C funding from Union Square Ventures. Earlier backers also joined the round, including Emergence Capital, Georgian Partners, iNovia Capital, Golden Venture Partners, Version One Ventures and SoftTech VC. Techvibes has more here.

Truebil, a 1.5-year-old, Mumbai, India-based marketplace for selling used cars in India, has raised $3 million in post-Series A funding from China’s Shunwei Capital. Its $5.5 million Series A was raised in January 2016. TechCrunch has more here.

uShip, a 14-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based online shipping marketplace, has raised $25 million in Series D funding led by DB Schenker, a Berlin-based global logistics and supply chain manager (and existing uShip partner). The company has now raised $50 million to date. More here.

(Other) New Funds

Cervin Ventures, a nine-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based seed and early-stage venture firm focused solely on enterprise startups, has closed on $56 million in commitments for its newest fund. TechCrunch has more here.

Goodwater Capital, a three-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based venture firm whose detailed Snap research we wrote about earlier this week, has closed its second with $250 million in commitments — almost twice the $130 million it had raised for its debut fund. Goodwater is run by cofounders Chi-Hua Chien, formerly of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Eric Kim, formerly of Maverick Capital. More here.


Beepi, the 3.5-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based online marketplace for used cars, is winding down, reports the WSJ. The company had raised $150 million from investors, including venture firms Foundation Capital, Redpoint Ventures and Sherpa Ventures and individuals such as Yuri Milner and Fabrice Grinda. As the WSJ notes, the company was also the largest AngelList syndicate deal in late 2014, in a $2.7 million funding that was led by investor Gil Penchina and included 86 individuals. Neither equity investors nor employees are likely to get any money back, says a WSJ source. More here (though note that it’s behind a firewall).

Dating app Tinder is looking to get into video. The company announced today it’s acquiring a 1.5-year-old, L.A.-based startup called Wheel that had developed a social network for sharing “video stories” that were said to closely resemble Snapchat’s Stories. Terms aren’t being disclosed. Wheel had raised $2 million from Upfront Ventures, Machinima founder Allen DeBevoise, and others. TechCrunch has more here.

Verizon is bolstering its efforts in drones by acquiring Skyward, a 4.5-year-old, Portland-based startup whose software helps commercial drone operators in industries like construction more efficiently track, connect and manage drones. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Skyward had raised $4.1 million in 2015 from numerous investors, including Verizon Ventures and Draper Associates. GeekWire has more here.


VC Mike Hirshland has some (very early) seed-stage investing advice. We talked with him over coffee earlier this week.

Elon Musk really is starting a tunnel digging company, and it really is called The Boring Company – TBC for short, which he says could also mean “to be continued.” More here.

Restless employees who have worked at Uber for four years can cash out up to 10 percent of their shares, according to Bloomberg. According to TechCrunch, the deal impacts only the company’s first 500 to 600 employees, who must be fully vested to take take advantage of the program.

Essential Reads

Apple vowed to revolutionize television. Here’s an inside look at why it hasn’t.

The U.S. patent office ruled yesterday that hotly disputed patents on the revolutionary genome-editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 belong to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, dealing a blow to the University of California in its efforts to overturn those patents. STAT has more here.


Make Trump’s Tweets Eight Again.

The world’s most admired companies, 2017 edition.

Why your dog’s personality is a lot like yours.

Retail Therapy

Protest tees.

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