StrictlyVC: June 8, 2017

Thursday! We’re still in a deep depression this morning, one triggered by the last three minutes of last night’s basketball game, when everything abruptly fell apart for the Cavs. As Slate noted last night, “If Game 3 were Bambi, that’s the moment your parents would turn off the VCR and send you to bed.”

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Top News in the A.M.

Isaac Choi, the founder of WrkRiot  written about extensively last summer for burning through $700,000 in 10 months, then lying about back pay — was just charged with five counts of wire fraud. More here.

Essential, the new smartphone startup run by Android creator Andy Rubin, has raised $300 million in new funding from undisclosed investors, reports Bloomberg. The company had last year raised $30 million from Rubin’s Playground Global and Redpoint Ventures. Others of the company’s investors include Altimeter Capital, Tencent Holding and Foxconn Technology Group. As the WSJ reported in March, Softbank was set to invest $100 million in the company but backed out at the eleventh hour, ostensibly because of Softbank’s increasingly close relationship with rival Apple.

The Gamer Chat Tool Discord Recently Raised Around $50 Million, as Insiders Cashed Out

It’s been a rocky road to glory for Discord, a startup whose iPad battle arena game, “Fates Forever,” earned it a top spot at the 2013 TechCrunch Disrupt show, but wound up flopping with users.

What a difference a few years makes. After pivoting to a voice and text chat tool for video game teams and trash talkers in 2015, Discord’s current trajectory makes it one of few consumer-facing companies that’s now reaching “escape velocity,” as one of its early investors gushes.

In fact, San Francisco-based Discord has 45 million registered users on its platform, quadrupling from a year ago, with 9 million daily actives. Now Discord is aiming to become the communication layer for gaming, recently closing a competitive financing round toward that end.

Index Ventures is said to have led the roughly $50 million funding round, which quietly took place in January at a pre-money valuation of $725 million, according to our sources. Institutional Venture Partners also chipped in a significant amount. And earlier backers — including Spark Capital, Greylock Partners and Benchmark — participated.

A source close to the company says Discord will likely raise more money soon, too, given outside interest. (There “isn’t much else going on in consumer land right now,” observes this person.)

More here.

(Other) New Fundings

Addepar, an eight-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based startup that helps wealth management firms get a more comprehensive view of their clients’ assets, has raised $140 million in a round led by Valor Equity Partners, 8VC and investment manager Harald McPike. TechCrunch has more here.

Algolia, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based company that provides businesses with the infrastructure, engine, and tools needed to create intuitive searches for their customers, has raised $53 million in Series B funding led by Accel Partners, which had previously led the company’s $18.3 million Series A round. Other participants in the funding include the SaaStr Fund, AppDynamics founder Jyoti Bansal,  and previous backers Alven Capital, Point Nine Capital and Storm Ventures, among others. TechCrunch has more here.

Automat, a year-old, Montreal-based conversational marketing startup, has raised $8.3 million in funding led by You & Mr Jones, with participation from Comcast Ventures and Omidyar Technology Ventures. VentureBeat has more here.

AxeTrading, an eight-year-old, London-based maker of fixed income trading technology, has raised $2.6 million in funding led by Illuminate Financial Management. More here.

Citrine Informatics, a four-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based chemicals and materials artificial intelligence platform, has raised $7.6 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Innovation Endeavors, DCVC, and Prelude Ventures, with participation from AME Cloud Ventures and XSeed Capital. More here.

Cognata, a year-old, Rehovot, Israel-based company that combines artificial intelligence, deep learning, and computer vision in a simulation platform that’s used by autonomous vehicle developers to shave years off their road tests, has raised $5 million in funding. Backers include Emerge, Maniv Mobility, andAirbus Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Coming Space, a seven-year-old, Nanjing, China-based apartment rental startup focused on young professionals, has raised $29 million in Series B funding led by Taiwan’s Neoglory Group. China Money Network has more here.

CybelAngel, a four-year-old, Paris-based startup that scans the dark web to detect threats against their clients, has raised $3.4 million in funding from Serena Data Ventures. More here.

Eloxx Pharmaceuticals, a four-year-old, Rehovot, Israel-based clinical-stage company that’s developing therapeutics to treat genetic diseases caused by non-sense mutations, has raised $24 million in Series C funding led by Pontifax, co-founder of Eloxx Pharmaceuticals, with participation from Quark Venture and GF Securities’ Global Health Science Fund. More here.

Jodel, a nearly three-year-old, Berlin-based social app that invites users to engage with people nearby, has raised $6.8 million in funding. Investors include Quora cofounder Adam di Angelo, Floodgate, Global Founders Network, and Atlantic Internet. has more here.

Pressboard, a three-year-old, Vancouver-based native ad marketplace, has raised $2 million in funding led by Vancouver Founder Fund. More here.

Trice Medical, a five-year-old, King of Prussia, Pa.-based company whose medical device is designed with a disposable needle embedded with a wide-angle camera lens to allow physicians to diagnose joint injuries without an MRI, has raised $19.3 million in Series C funding. The publicly traded medical equipment company Smith & Nephew led the round; other participants include Safeguard Scientifics, HealthQuest Capital, BioStar Ventures and other, unnamed, returning investors. The company has now raised $40.9 million altogether. Mass Device has more here.

Trint, a three-year-old, London-based startup that employs machine learning and speech-to-text technology to automate transcribing, has raised $3.1 million  in “pre-seed” funding led by Horizons Labs, the Hong Kong-based seed fund operated by the managers of Horizons Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Viridis, an eight-year-old, New York-based recruiting platform that links college databases to employer job requirements, then matches students to specific job openings, has raised nearly $7.5 million in funding from Salesforce Ventures and Thayer Ventures, among others. EdSurge has more here.

New Funds

Costanoa Ventures, a nearly five-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based early-stage venture firm, is raising upwards of $175 million for its third fund, per an SEC filing first flagged by Axios. The firm had closed its second fund with $135 million in 2015.

Kasikorn Bank, a major bank in Thailand that was founded in 1945, has set aside roughly $30 million in funding to invest in Thailand-based fintech startups, as well as startups overseas. More here.

The New York-based early-stage firm Lerer Hippeau Ventures has closed on $28 million in capital commitments for an opportunity fund to support its breakout investments. It’s called LHV Select. The outfit began raising the fund earlier this year.

Also Sponsored By . . .

StrictlyVC is also being brought to you this week courtesy of Dreamit UrbanTech. Its message to readers (and founders of breakthrough startups, particularly):

The Dreamit UrbanTech Accelerator Program is officially accepting applications for their Fall 2017 cycle through June 23rd. Participating startups will benefit from unprecedented access to Dreamit’s national customer and investor network, including a chance to interface with the $3 billion Tampa Bay Urban Redevelopment Initiative being led by Strategic Property Partners, a joint venture between Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates’ Cascade Investments. The Dreamit UrbanTech accelerator seeks startups that use digital solutions to make urban areas more livable, sustainable, connected and efficient. We’re looking for startups working in real estate tech, construction tech, IoT, smart cities, clean energy, agriculture, transportation, and AI to join our 14-week growth-focused program. Apply before June 23!


Aileron Therapeutics, a 12-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based biopharmaceutical company that has raised at least $140 million from investors, has filed plans to raise up to $69 million in a public offering on Nasdaq, with the ticker ALRN. Its biggest outside shareholders are Apple Tree Partners, Novartis Venture Fund, and SR One.


GreatCall, an 11-year-old, San Diego-based company that sells a suite of connected safety products for “aging-in-place” individuals, has been acquired by Chicago-based private equity firm GTCR. The amount of the deal was not disclosed. GreatCall and raised roughly $75 million, including from Court Square Ventures, according to Crunchbase. Mobi Health News has more here.

WeWork, the seven-year-old, New York-based co-working juggernaut, has acquired Fieldlens, a 5.5-year-old, New York-based mobile communication system for the construction industry that aims to replace calls, texts, emails and all the other back and forth that’s typically sent between building owners, contractors, subcontractors, architects and everyone else on a project. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. Fieldlens had raised roughly $12.6 million from investors. We have more here.


According to Recode, layoffs are expected to take place across AOL and Yahoo that could number up to 1,000 jobs. That’s reportedly less than 20 percent of the combined company.

At an investment summit yesterday, Robert Wallace, the head of Stanford University’s $25 billion endowment, urged caution when investing in private equity and venture capital, noting the glut of capital that’s driving valuations higher.

A top Uber executive, who obtained the medical records of a customer who was a rape victim, has been fired.


Johnson & Johnson Innovation is looking to hire a director of new ventures. The job is in Menlo Park, Ca.

Essential Reads

Amazon just ended its unlimited cloud storage plan.

Snap is the most-shorted tech initial public offering of the year, with a growing number of traders betting the stock will fall.

At Snap’s West 43rd Street office in New York, power players are invited to its impeccably designed top floor, but pictures aren’t allowed.


Why you still can’t trust your financial advisor.

So a peacock walks into a liquor store . . .

Retail Therapy

Pins for Warriors. (Sniffle.)

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