StrictlyVC: February 21, 2017

Hi, happy Tuesday from sunny-for-the-moment San Francisco, where we’ve been on back-to-back calls this morning. (Like everyone else, we right now have Uber on the brain. More on this tomorrow.)

Hope you had a fun, relaxing long weekend.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Following the disclosure of two massive data breaches last year, Yahoo and Verizon finally confirmed new terms for the sale of Yahoo to Verizon earlier today: Verizon will pay $350 million less than originally planned, or $4.48 billion, to acquire Yahoo. More here.

In San Francisco, Lease Prices Hold Steady, But Landlords Offer More Perks

Leasing commercial space in San Francisco is as expensive as ever, but prices are mostly holding steady for the first time in a long time —  not rising. That shift has landlords offering more perks and brokers wondering what’s next.

Their obvious concern: that good times can’t last forever, especially for venture-backed companies that aren’t IPO candidates and whose chances of getting acquired may be diminishing by the quarter.

Certainly, the cash isn’t flowing quite so freely at the moment. According to Pitchbook, investment in U.S.-based startups is right now down 40 percent year from the amount invested at this point last year.

Meanwhile, Medium, DoubleDutch, AdRoll and Github are among a growing number of San Francisco-based companies that have downsized recently as they either rethink their strategies or refocus on core strengths while simultaneously reducing their overhead.

“With some of the things that are being talked about on a federal policy level — reducing the corporate tax rate, repatriating cash at a lower tax rate — it looks like the [positive] economic cycle will continue for the tech industry,” says Colin Yasukochi, director of research and analysis at the commercial brokerage firm CBRE. “How long it will last is anyone’s guess, though,” he adds.

“This expansion is definitely long in the tooth, for the U.S. and the Bay Area in particular,” says Robert Sammons, a director of research at the commercial real estate company Cushman & Wakefield. “But I think we’re forecasting a slowdown, not a recession, and I think it’s just because it’s the cycle. It’s time. We need to reset the clock a bit.”

More here.

New Fundings

Affigen, a year-old, St. Louis, Ms.-based biotechnology company that develops therapeutics targeting cell lineage-specific tumor proteins, has raised $17 million Series A funding led by Black Beret Life Sciences. More here.

ConsejoSano, a  two-year-old, San Francisco, Ca.-based digital health platform for Spanish speakers to navigate America’s healthcare system, has raised $4.9 million in Series A funding led by 7wire Ventures, with participation from Tufts Health Ventures, TOTAL Impact Capital, Wanxiang Healthcare Investments, Acumen, Oxeon Partners and Impact Engine. MobiHealthNews has more here.

Cloud Lending Solutions, a 4.5-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based financial services company whose end-to-end cloud-based lending platform (built natively on Salesforce) is used by online lenders, banks, credit unions and others, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding led by Cota Capital. Earlier investors also joined the round. More here., a 1.5-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based social network for data people interested in solving complex academic, commercial, and societal problems quickly, has raised $18.7 million in funding led by Pat Ryan’s family investment group, with participation from Chicago Ventures, Fyrfly Venture Partners, Hunt Technology Ventures, LiveOak Venture Partners, Shasta Ventures, and Sherpa Asset Management. Numerous individual investors also joined the round. More here.

FAMOCO, a 6.5-year-old, Paris, France-based startup that connects contactless card and NFC phones to accelerate the deployment of business-to-consumer and business-to-business services, has raised $11 million in Series B funding led by Idinvest Partners. Other participants in the round include Orange Digital Ventures, Hi Inov, SNCF Digital Ventures, BNP Paribas Développement, BPI-Ambition Numérique and business angels. More here.

Haoqiao, a 3.5-year-old, Beijing-based business-to-business hotel booking site, has raised $17 million in funding led by China Merchants Capital and National SME Development Fund. DealStreetAsia has more here.

Kakao, the 22-year-old, South Korean messaging platform giant, has received $200 million in funding from Alibaba’s payment affiliate Ant Financial. TechCrunch has more here.

Monzo, a 1.5-year-old, London-based digital-only bank, is reportedly closing its Series C funding with roughly £30 million, with Thrive Capital leading the financing. TechCrunch has more here.

Skurt, a 2.5-year-old, L.A.-based rental car delivery startup, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by earlier investor Upfront Ventures. Other participants in the round include BMW, Troy Carter’s Cross Culture Ventures, Expansion VC, Greycroft Partners and NBA legend Magic Johnson. TechCrunch has more here.

True Balance, a 2.5-year-old, Gurgaon, India-based application that helps prepaid users save and manage their mobile balances, has raised roughly $15 million from Softbank Ventures Korea and other investors. More here.

New Funds

Rapper and ubiquitous mogul Jay-Z is launching a venture capital fund, according to Axios. One of his partners will be Jay Brown, a longtime business partner and president of Roc Nation. More here and here.


MuleSoft, an 11-year-old, San Francisco-based platform for building application networks, has filed to raise $100 million in an IPO. The company has raised more than $250 million in venture funding; you can see who owns what right here.


Magic Leap, the augmented reality startup that has raised $1.4 billion in funding but has yet to release a product, has acquired the 3D division of Dacuda, a Zurich-based computer vision startup. The idea, says TechCrunch: to expand its work in computer vision and deep learning and to build out its operations into Europe. More here.

Meltwater, a 16-year-old, San Francisco-based self-described “media intelligence” company, has acquired Wrapidity, a U.K.-based AI startup that has built technology to automate the extraction of data from unstructured web-based content. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.


So far, AOL cofounder Steve Case has overseen the investment of $840 million in startups outside of California, New York and Massachusetts through his venture firm, Revolution. The goal: to “reduce some of the either naiveté or, to some degree, arrogance that I do see in places like Silicon Valley.”

Renowned VC Brad Feld says not to get too excited about all these new acquisition by non-tech companies. Here’s why.

Uber has hired former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder to help lead an investigation into claims of sexual harassment and discrimination that a former female engineer made public over the weekend in a highly circulated blog post. More here.

Vic Pascucci, who previously led insurer USAA’s corporate venture-investing program, has signed on as managing partner at the venture firm Lightbank. He takes over control of the fund from cofounders Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky, who are each running a startup right now. More here.


Total funding for U.S. fintech companies and deal activity dropped significantly in 2016, down to $12.8 billion from $27 billion in 2015, a result of political and regulatory uncertainty, a decline in megadeals and investor caution, according to KPMG. More here.

Essential Reads

Facebook Messenger now lets you send money with Transferwise.

Snap‘s IPO is coming, and wealth managers and real estate agents are ready.


China’s millennials are hustling for part-time gigs Instead of traditional jobs.

Inside the French Laundry’s new $10 million kitchen.

Auto loans to Americans with poor credit have been booming, and many finance companies, credit unions and auto dealers are using technologies to track the location of borrowers’ vehicles in case they need to repossess them.

Retail Therapy

Boniface de Castellane and Anna Gould reigned over French capital during the Belle Èpoque. Now some of their art and antiques are being sold at auction.

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