StrictlyVC: March 31, 2017

Happy Friday, everyone. Hope you’re in for a terrific weekend. See you back here on Monday.:)

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Top News in the A.M.

Last night, SpaceX succeeded in re-launching one of its Falcon 9 rockets for the first time. It’s the first-ever reflight of an entire orbital class rocket — by anyone. TechCrunch has more here.

Snap just debuted its first major product since its IPO.

CRV Puts Bioengineering on Its Shopping List

CRV, an early-stage venture firm that made headlines last year for its stance on then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign, is looking to get out a new (non-political) message: It’s diving more deeply into the business of AI-driven biotech.

The move comes years after some other venture firms have taken a deep dive into biotech, including True Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz. But CRV general partner George Zachary would argue that CRV’s timing is pretty good, given both the burgeoning opportunity and the potential outcomes.

Consider that late last year, Stanford researchers trained a computer to identify images of skin cancer moles and lesions as accurately as a dermatologist. Entrepreneur and computer scientist Sebastian Thrun — who was involved in the project as an adjunct professor in the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory — told us earlier this year that the researchers are forming a startup around their findings. (Natch.)

Another young company, Viz, is applying deep learning to ultrasounds, which typically require either a radiologist or other technician’s expertise (which can translate into a long wait for anxious patients). More specifically, Viz’s software compares ultrasounds with millions of other images and videos, ostensibly empowering primary care physicians to interpret the images and quickly take action.

And these are but two in a sea of examples that range from cancer screening to blood testing to human microbiome-focused startups (which alone number in the dozens).

What finally captured CRV’s interest? In part, it was personal, says Zachary.

More here.

New Fundings

ADVR, a year-old, San Francisco, Ca.-based discovery marketing engine for virtual and augmented reality applications, has raised $3 million in initial funding from undisclosed backers. VentureBeat has more here.

Breathe Technologies, a 12-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based developer of a ventilator system for patients with respiratory insufficiency and neuromuscular diseases, has raised $12.8 million in new funding, shows an SEC filing. Past investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Johnson & Johnson Development Corp., Delphi Ventures, Synergy Ventures, DAG Ventures and Morgan Creek. More here.

Decisely, a 1.5-year-old Alpharetta, Ga.-based HR and benefits platform for small businesses, has raised $60 million in funding from Two Sigma Private Investments and EPIC Insurance Brokers and Consultants. More here.

Echo, a four-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based maker of a hybrid microscope, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding co-led by Dolby Family Ventures and Tech Coast Angels. More here.

Optolexia, a nearly two-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based company that’s developing an eye-tracking test that screens for dyslexia in children, raised $5.6 million in funding. Gabriel Urwitz, the CEO of the private equity group Segulah, led the round, with participation from The Pomona Group. Mobi Health News has more here.

SpyBiotech, a months-old, Oxford, England-based startup spun out of Oxford University that has developed a way to bond antigens to viruses and other particles to make vaccines, has raised $5 million from GV and Oxford Sciences Innovation, Oxford’s own venture fund. TechCrunch has more here.

Stripe, the six-year-old, San Francisco-based payments company, just quietly tacked $5 million in equity onto its previous funding, according to an SEC filing that says the capital came from two investors. Stripe has raised more than $440 million to date, shows Crunchbase. Its backers include Sequoia Capital, General Catalyst Partners, and Thrive Capital, among others. It was assigned a $9 billion valuation late last year. More here.

ZenJob, a year-old, Berlin, Germany-based on-demand staffing platform, has raised €3 million in funding led by Redalpine and Acton Capital Partners, with participation from 500 Startups and earlier investor Atlantic Labs. More here.

New Funds

Banyan Capital, a 3.5-year-old, Beijing-based venture firm that already manages at least three venture funds, has closed on new, $50 million fund, shows an SEC filing.
Haystack Ventures, the seed-stage firm founded by investor, SVC advisor, and frequent summer columnist Semil Shah, is raising a $25 million fund, according to a new SEC filing. This will be Shah’s first institutional fund; his previous vehicles were closed via commitments from individual investors.

WestSummit Capital, a growth-stage fund with offices in Menlo Park, Hong Kong, and Beijing (it funds both North American and China-based companies) is looking to raise a new, $300 million fund, shows an SEC filing. The firm closed its previous fund with $225 million in 2014.


Cloudera, a nine-year-old, Palo Alto-based big data company that has raised roughly $1 billion from investors, is expected to file its S-1 today. According to Crunchbase, the company’s backers include Accel Partners, Greylock Partners, Meritech Capital Partners, Ignition Partners, T. Rowe Price, In-Q-Tel, and Intel Capital, among others. More here.


According to Fortune’s Term Sheet, Eventbrite, the event ticketing startup that’s valued at more than $1 billion and is expected to go public in the not-too-distant future, has quietly acquired Nvite, a year-old, Washington, D.C.-based competitor that had raised just $1 million from a group of local investors. More here.


Jeff Bezos is now the world’s second-richest person.

Facebook says Oculus co-founder and Rift creator Palmer Luckey is leaving the company and will be “dearly missed.”

Serial entrepreneur Dustin Moskovitz is funding the operations of a London charity that encourages entrepreneurs to commit to giving to worthy causes when they eventually exit their business.

Essential Reads

A judge said he’s inclined to slap an order on Uber that may impede its self-driving car program after being told its director, Anthony Levandowski, won’t testify on its behalf. Bloomberg has more here.

As the U.S.’s top tech brands ramp up operations in India, they are running into unexpected resistance: Their Chinese equivalents are stepping in to bolster their Indian competitors. The WSJ has more here.

Didi Chuxing still faces potentially costly fights with much smaller rival ridesharing firms in China even after defeating Uber in China. The Information has more here.

Gulp. Snap could lose more than $2 billion this year — which is more than Twitter and Tesla combined. We’ll talk about this with Snap’s second-largest outside shareholders, Lightspeed Venture Partners, at our May 4 event in San Francisco.


Starbucks is testing a cafe in Seattle that is dedicated entirely to filling mobile orders.

The most popular cosmetic procedures for men right now.

How the rest of the world defines personal space.

Retail Therapy

Seventeen sneakers debuting this weekend and where to buy them.

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