StrictlyVC: May 12, 2017

Greetings from New York! We love it here. Why have we never lived here?

Short newsletter today. We’re running off to a meeting. Have a great weekend, everyone — see you Monday.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Spotify is expected to go public as a direct listing on the NYSE, possibly in the fourth quarter of this year, says CNBC.

Sponsored By . . .

StrictlyVC is being brought to you this week courtesy of Grand Central Tech. Its message to readers (and founders of budding startups, particularly):

Apply today for the Grand Central Tech Accelerator Program! Join the ranks of some of NYC’s premier startups in the single most comprehensive, entrepreneur-friendly program of its kind. GCT attracts top-tier startups, acquaints them with one another and with industry experts to the mutual benefit of all involved; offers relevant, programming tailored to each company’s specific needs; and then more or less gets out of the way. We do not take equity, we do not charge rent, and we aren’t needlessly disruptive. We only take 20 companies so we can concentrate on adding value as/where it’s needed. Applications are due THIS FRIDAY May 12th; we look forward to seeing yours.

New Fundings

CBien, a four-year-old, French insurtech startup whose digital asset management platform helps users secure and manage personal belongings such heir laptops and smartphones, has raised €8 million ($8.7 million) in second-round funding from earlier backers MAIF, MACIF and 5M Ventures. More here.

Claranet, a 21-year-old, London-based managed hosting group, has raised £80 million ($87.3 million) in funding led by Paris-based Tikehau Capital. More here.

Guardant Health, a four-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based biotech company that sells blood tests to track and potentially detect cancer, has raised a whopping $360 million from investors, bringing its total funding to $550 million. SoftBank led the round, with participation from Sequoia Capital, Khosla Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, OrbiMed, 8VC, “certain funds and accounts” managed by T. Rowe Price, and Temasek, among others. VentureBeat has more here.

Improbable, a five-year-old, London-based startup that has developed a platform for third parties to build vast virtual and simulated worlds, has landed a stratospheric $502 million in funding led by SoftBank, with previous investors Andreessen Horowitz and Horizons Ventures also participating. The company tells TechCrunch the capital is not coming from the $100 million Vision Fund that Softbank is working on closing. More here.

Jinn, a four-year-old, London-based on-demand delivery platform, has raised $10 million in new funding led by the family investment office STE Capital, with participation from Samaipata Ventures and a number of other previous investors. The company has now raised $20 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Pocket Gems, am eight-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of hit mobile games “Episode” and “War Dragons,” has raised $90 million in new funding from earlier investor Tencent Holdings. China’s Tencent previously bought a roughly 20 percent stake in Pocket Gems when it funded the company’s entire $60 million Series B in 2015. The new investment values Pocket Gems at about $500 million, and it brings Tencent’s stake to about 38 percent. The WSJ has more here.

Spring, a three-year-old, New York-based e-commerce startup that sells clothes from 2,000 clothing brands through its mobile app and website, has raised $65 million in new funding led by Fidelity Investments in a round that brings the company’s total funding to $100 million in total. Earlier investors also joined the round, including  Groupe Arnault, Thrive Capital, and Box Group. Recode has more here.

Truepic, a year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based online image and video authenticity platform, has raised $1.75 million in seed funding from numerous individual investors, including former Thomson Financial CEO Jeffrey Partner, and Flip Filipowksi, the cofounder and CEO of Platinum Technology. More here.

Wealthsimple, a three-year-old, Toronto-based robo-advisory firm, has raised  $37 million ($50 million Canadian) in funding from Power Financial, a large financial institution in Canada. Techcrunch has more here.


Appian, an 18-year-old, Reston, Va.-based provider of a software development platform, has set its IPO terms, revealing plans to offer 6.25 million at between $11 and $13 per share. In the middle of that range, it would enjoy a market cap o $878 million. The company’s biggest outside shareholders include Novak Biddle Venture Partners (which has a 21.5 percent pre-IPO stake) and New Enterprise Associates (which owns 11.7 percent). More here.


Subscription-platform Zuora has agreed to buy Leeyo, an eight-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca., company that makes revenue recognition and management software. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.


Hillary Clinton will be speaking at Recode’s upcoming Code conference.

Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey seems to suggest he left Facebook in part because it didn’t allow him time to cosplay, the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game.


After stunning the world with a record $246 billion of announced outbound takeovers in 2016, Chinese dealmakers are now struggling to cope with tighter capital controls and increasingly wary counterparties, says Bloomberg. Cross-border purchases plunged 67 percent during the first four months of this year, the biggest drop for a comparable period since the depths of the global financial crisis in 2009, according to data compiled by the outlet.

Essential Reads

At Microsoft’s developer conference in Washington this week, gone was the Microsoft whose former CEO, Steve Ballmer, once predicted the iPhone had “no chance; no chance at all.” Instead, Microsoft is embracing a world where the iPhone and Android dominate personal computing. Fast Company has more here.

A judge has denied Uber‘s request to force Waymo‘s case against it into arbitration.The decision hints that the judge’s pending decision on a preliminary injunction that would effectively halt Uber’s self-driving development plans, might not be favorable to Uber. Potentially even worse for Uber, the judge in the civil case has referred the theft claims to the U.S. Attorney for a possible criminal investigation. TechCrunch has more here and here.


Stephen Colbert on Donald Trump: “The president the United States has come after me and my show . . . I won!

The Giro d’Italia through the (last 100) years.

These are the cars that people keep the longest.

Retail Therapy

The suddenly ubiquitous fidget spinner (and its real origin story).

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