StrictlyVC: March 1, 2017


Top News in the A.M.

Snap is set to price its IPO today, with reports suggesting that there is enough demand for it to price at between $17 to $18, above the initially targeted range of $14 to $16 a share. Fortune has more here.

Samsung has disclosed that it paid around $215 million last October to acquire the virtual assistant startup Viv Labs, whose team built Apple’s Siri virtual assistant. The company wasn’t independently run for long. Founded in 2012, it publicly debuted its technology at a TechCrunch Disrupt show in New York last May and was snapped up just six months later. Viv had raised $30 million from investors. VentureBeat has more here.

In Uber Video, CEO Speaks Openly About Impact of Competitors

A newly published video clip of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick may offer the world’s first glimpse into his thinking about businesses that compete with his ride-sharing juggernaut.

The clip — filmed earlier this month while Kalanick was using Uber’s Black car service and provided to Bloomberg yesterday afternoon by the driver, Fawzi Kamel — mostly shows Kalanick bantering with the two women between whom he is sitting.

Once Kalanick prepares to exit the car, he shakes Kamel’s hand and engages in a conversation that he presumably thinks will be friendly but quickly sours. In that interaction, Kalanick explains why Uber’s rates have fallen so dramatically, pointing to competition that has made price drops inescapable. Meanwhile, Kamel argues with Kalanick, telling him he could have kept prices higher and that Kalanick’s decision not to do so has “bankrupted” him.

The conversation ends when Uber tells Kamel to take responsibility for his own decisions.

Kalanick has since apologized to his employees for his tone in speaking with Kamel. In an email to them last night, he wrote:

By now I’m sure you’ve seen the video where I treated an Uber driver disrespectfully. To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement. My job as your leader is to lead … and that starts with behaving in a way that makes us all proud. That is not what I did, and it cannot be explained away.

It’s clear this video is a reflection of me—and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.

I want to profoundly apologize to Fawzi, as well as the driver and rider community, and to the Uber team.

You can check out the full clip to see what transpires, and why Kalanick might have been caught off guard.

More here.

New Fundings

Banyan Technology, a 16-year-old, Cleveland, Oh.-based company that provides shippers, third party logistics companies, and carriers with software that features live data for rating, booking, and managing shipments, has raised $7 million in equity and debt. Its investors include JumpStart and River SaaS Capital. More here.

Blackbuck, a 1.5-year-old, Bangalore, India-based logistics startup, is raising $30 million in Series C funding from Capital Sands and International Financial Corp., along with earlier investors that include Flipkart and Accel Partners. LiveMint has more here.

Fortscale Security, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based cyber security company, has raised $7 million in fresh fundung led by Evolution Equity Partners and Valor Capital Group. The round also included investments from previous investors, including Intel Capital, Blumberg Capital, Swarth, CME Ventures and UST Global. More here.

Freenome, a two-year-old, South San Francisco-based liquid biopsy diagnosis platform that detects the cell-free DNA sequencing of cancer, has raised a huge Series A round — $65 million — led by Andreessen Horowitz, which also led the company’s $5.5 million seed round less than a year ago. Other investors in the deal include GV, Polaris Partners, Innovation Endeavors, Spectrum 28, Asset Management Ventures, Charles River Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Allen and Company and earlier backers Data Collective and Founders Fund. We have more for you here.

Incorta, a 3.5-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based analytics platform that purports to make the modern data warehouse a thing of the past, has raised $10 million from GV. TechCrunch has more here.

Instacart, the 4.5-year-old, San Francisco-based on-demand delivery company, is in talks to raise around $400 million in new funding at a $3 billion valuation, reports Dan Primack of Axios. Earlier investor Sequoia Capital is expected to lead the new round. More here.

Kensho, a 3.5-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based company that’s developing new analytics tools for investment professionals, has raised $50 million in Series B funding led by S&P Global,  with participation from banks Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Wells Fargo. Earlier backers, including General Catalyst Partners and Breyer Capital, also joined the round. Forbes has more on the company — now valued at $500 million — here.

Medisafe, a 4.5-year-old, Boston-based personalized medication management platform, has raised $14.5 million in Series B funding led by Octopus Ventures, with participation from M Ventures and earlier investors Pitango Venture Capital, 7wire ventures, Lool Ventures, TriVentures and Qualcomm Ventures. More here.

Muse Bio, a 1.5-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based genome engineering company, has raised $23 million in Series B funding led by Venrock, with participation from Foresite Capital, Paladin Capital and earlier investors NanoDimension and Spruce/MLS. More here.

Ofo, a nearly three-year-old, China-based bike-sharing service, has raised $450 million in Series D funding from DST, Citic Private Equity, Matrix Partners, Coatue Management, Atomico and Macrolink Group. (This may sound familiar, as yesterday, a different, China-based bike-sharing service, Bluegogo, had announced founding.) TechCrunch has more here.

Omeicos Therapeutics, a 3.5-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based biopharmaceutical company that’s developing small molecule therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, has raised €8.3 million ($8.8 million) in Series B funding. The financing was led by Vesalius Biocapital II S.A. SICAR and SMS Company Group, with participation from earlier backers. More here.


Chinese travel site Qunar is delisting from the NASDAQ, having completed its sale to private equity firm Ocean Management (first announced last October). The transaction values Qunar — which is backed by Baidu — at around $4.44 billion. The firm had raised $167 million from its IPO in November 2013 but is now among numerous Chinese businesses to shun U.S. public markets, reports TechCrunch. More here.

Yelp has acquired a six-year-old, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based restaurant technology startup called Nowait in an all-cash deal valued at $40 million. The company had raised around $22 million in funding, including a strategic $8 million investment from Yelp made last year. The purchase price includes that capital. VentureBeat has more here.


A female engineer at Tesla has accused Elon Musk’s car company of ignoring her complaints of “pervasive harassment”, paying her a lower salary than men doing the same work, promoting less qualified men over her and retaliating against her for raising concerns. The Guardian has more here.

Investor-entrepreneur Max Levchin has an alternative strategy to surviving an apocalypse instead of heading to some fancy bunker somewhere; he says to be nice to your neighbors. Quartz has more here.


Walt Disney is looking for a digital innovation director to help evaluate emerging tech that will complement its various properties. The job is in Glendale, Ca.

Essential Reads

What’s next for Snap after Spectacles? Maybe a 360-degree camera, reports TechCrunch.


How to escape a toxic workplace.

The true story of the Comey letter debacle.

Not good: You can accidentally rent a dog that you think you are buying.

Retail Therapy

A record player that’s just a wheel, so it’s called Wheel. (We really hope this gets made.)

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