StrictlyVC: April 10, 2017

Happy Monday!

Before we jump into things: We’d mentioned to last week that the creative agency and investment firm Bullish had an interesting idea for readers who’d like to come to our fast-approaching event, May 4, in San Francisco, featuring the founders of The RealReal, Impossible Foods, Confide and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

We talked a little more with Bullish this morning and they’d like to help founders specifically. Toward that end, today, the firm will be sponsoring five readers who’ve raised seed funding (just) and still have enough of a sense of humor to write a limerick about life in the startup trenches.:)

The first five limericks that are *not terrible* get a seat. You can hit reply to this email to submit your entry.

Thanks, too, to our other partners in what’s sure to be a fun night: Square 1 Bank, Rosebud Communications, and NextWorld Capital.

Top News in the A.M.

Controversial FCC Chair Ajit Pai has finally done something that everyone can agree on: ensure that cell phones will continue to be prohibited during airline flights.

Stripe’s Patrick Collison Says No to an IPO Any Time Soon

You can imagine that Stripe CEO Patrick Collison is asked a lot about whether his San Francisco-based payments company plans to go public any time soon. Last year, the seven-year-old company raised $150 million in a deal co-led by General Catalyst Partners and CapitalG that valued the startup at $9.2 billion, almost double the valuation it was assigned in 2015.

Altogether, it has raised $440 million, shows Crunchbase.

Still, don’t expect an IPO any time soon, Collison stated very explicitly at the Launch conference in San Francisco on Friday. While industry observers like to note the sustained and seemingly unstoppable success of gun-slinging Amazon, which went public in 1997, just three years after its founding, Collison argued that it was harder for Amazon at the outset than many seem to recall.

“If you look at the Amazon daily history [as a public company], they had an incredibly turbulent time for their first couple of years,” he told interviewer and Launch founder Jason Calacanis. “Now in 2017 . . . it all looks great. But they had a tough time at the beginning and I think this is a broader structural challenge across the industry.”

Of course, the point — that it’s far harder to take risks as a public company — has been endlessly argued for and against in recent years, by both people who think staying private as long as possible makes sense as long as capital is available, and those who argue that going public provides companies with cash to do things like acquire other companies.

It’s an argument that Collison preemptively argued, in fact, saying Friday that, “Being a public company certainly doesn’t stop you from taking a really long-term time horizon, but it does make it more difficult.”

More here.

A Word from Our Sponsor . . .

Today’s StrictlyVC comes to you courtesy of Treble, a growing, data-centric PR firm out of Austin. Specializing in producing consistent and impactful media coverage for venture-backed startups and venture capital firms including Mercury Fund, Signal Peak Ventures and Next Coast Ventures, Treble has assembled an experienced team of PR veterans and ex-journalists with deep roots in Silicon Valley. The firm plans to formally launch its Bay Area office later this year. Check out coverage results by Treble here.

New Fundings

Branch, a three-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based startup whose tools enable developers to provide links between websites and apps, has raised $60 million in Series C funding from Andy Rubin’s Playground Ventures, according to TechCrunch. The company had earlier raised $53 million in funding, including a $35 million round led by Founders Fund just over a year ago. Other investors include New Enterprise Associates, Pear Ventures, Cowboy Ventures, Madrona Ventures, Zach Coelius and Ben Narasin. More here.

Five Jack, a 3.5-year-old, South Korea and Indonesia-based company that operates an e-commerce game platform called itemku for gamers in Indonesia, has raised $1.2 million in funding from 500 Startups and Korean venture capital firms. The company has now raised $1.7 million altogether. More here.

Flipkart, the 10-year-old, Bangalore, India-based e-commerce giant, has officially raised $1.4 billion in new funding at a post-money valuation of $11.6 billion. Investors include Tencent Holdings, eBay, Microsoft, and earlier backers Tiger Global, Naspers, Accel Partners and DST Global. The investment will also see Flipkart take control of eBay India, a second-tier e-commerce player in India that will remain an independent e-commerce site. TechCrunch has more here.

Fresh Relevance, a 3.5-year-old, Southampton, U.K.-based marketing technology platform for e-commerce businesses, has raised £2.15 million in funding from Foresight VCT PLC. More here.

Future Energy Solutions Lighting Group, an eight-year-old, Fort Lauderdale, Fl.-based company that sells energy-efficient lighting equipment systems using LED and induction technologies to commercial and industrial customers, has raised $75 million in debt from Orion Energy Partners. The company had earlier secured backing from Matterhorn Capital and Stonegate Bank.

Jetty, a year-old, New York-based insurtech startup that provides customers with insurance products and services to protect their apartments and belongings, has raised $4 million in seed funding, including from Ribbit Capital, Box Group, Social Capital, SV Angel, Red Swan, MetaProp NYC and Solon Mack Capital. More here.

Mylio, a five-year-old, Bellevue, Wa.-based personal mesh network startup, has raised $25 million in funding from China Everbright, which will serves as Mylio’s distribution partner for the Chinese market. GeekWire has more here.

Neural Analytics, a four-year-old, L.A.-based medical device company that’s developing and commercializing technology to measure, diagnose and track brain health, has raised $10 million in funding led by Reimagined Ventures and numerous other, unnamed investors. Mass Device has more here.

Ortho Kinematics‚ a nine-year-old, Austin, Tex.–based healthcare diagnostics company focused on spine imaging informatics, has raised $18.6 million in Series D funding from undisclosed backers. More here.

Proveca, a seven-year-old, Manchester, U.K.-based pharmaceutical company developing medicines for children (including a treatment for pathological drooling), has raised £4 million (roughly $5 million) in funding led by Catapult Ventures, with growth debt financing provided by Kreos Capital. More here.

Trov, a nearly five-year-old, Danville, Ca.-based fintech company aiming to bring on-demand services to property-casualty insurance, has raised $45 million in funding led by the German reinsurance giant Munich Re AG, with participation from Japanese insurer Sompo Holdings. The company has now raised $85 million altogether, including from Oak HC/FT, Anthemis Group and Pivot Investment Partners. The WSJ has more here.

New Funds

The Engine, a fund and accelerator for advanced technology startups, has closed its debut fund with $150 million, says its CEO and managing partner, Katie Rae. MIT is the anchor LP, having committed $25 million to the vehicle. Rae previously led funds at TechStars Boston and Project 11. TechCrunch has more here.

Freestyle Capital, a San Francisco-based early-stage venture firm, has closed its fourth fund with $90 million in commitments. It also promoted Jenny Lefcourt to general partner. Lefcourt, who’d earlier cofounded a wedding registry startup called WeddingChannel, joined Freestyle in 2014. The outfit closed its last fund with $60 million in 2015. TechCrunch has more here.


Is Qualtrics — a 16-year-old, Provo, Ut.-based SaaS company that has raised $220 million from Sequoia Capital, Accel Partners, and Insight Venture Partners — preparing to go public? This interview with CEO Ryan Smith suggests the answer is yes.


TaskRabbit is exploring a sale after the company received inbound interest from a strategic buyer, CEO Stacy Brown-Philpot confirmed to Recode over the weekend. More here.

Sphera Solutions, a Chicago-based risk management and compliance software company, has acquired Rivo Software, a 13-year-old, Warwick, U.K.-based maker of risk management and compliance software. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. It isn’t clear whether Rivo had venture backing. More here.

Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices is acquiring the IP and all of the employees of Nitero, an eight-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based startup that’s reportedly one of few companies capable of supplying 60 GHz mmWave radio technologies. Terms weren’t disclosed. Nitro had raised $4.7 million from Southern Cross Venture Partners and Trailblazer Capital, shows Crunchbase. Forbes has more here.

Remember when Chinese electronics giant LeEco said it was going to acquire U.S.-based TV maker Vizio? So that’s not happening. The Verge has more here.


Chris Bevington, a director of global partnerships at music streaming service Spotify, was killed in the Stockholm truck attack Friday, the company’s co-founder/CEO Daniel Ek confirmed on Facebook. He was 41. More here.

Last year, David Hung sold his drug company, Medivation, to Pfizer for $14.3 billion; now he’s joining Axovant Sciences, a risky drug developer focused on Alzheimer’s (and the brainchild of Vivek Ramaswamy, who we interviewed at our last StrictlyVC event and for TechCrunch). More on Hung’s move in Forbes.

Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt is leaving the company after an 18-year run, the company announced Friday. More here.


According to a new study by the Boston Consulting Group, by 2030, up to a quarter of driving miles in the U.S. could be handled by self-driving electric vehicles. More here.

Essential Reads

Comcast is working on a Netflix rival.

Tesla just quietly debuted a solar option that could be a lot more practical for homeowners not looking to replace their entire roofs.


Where to invest $10,000 right now.

Why women don’t report sexual harassment.

A study confirms (again?) that the more you use Facebook, the worse you feel.

Retail Therapy

Blue checkered shirts are so 1998 (through 2016). Now, it’s all about that preppiest of colors: pink.

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