StrictlyVC: June 9, 2017

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you have a terrific weekend. See you soon.:)

StrictlyVC is being brought to you this week by Rosebud CommunicationsIt’s Friday, and we all deserve to take it down a notch for a couple of days. We’ll be here next week; in the meantime, remember the media never sleeps, nor do we. Send us an email. Operators are always standing by:

Top News in the A.M.

Alphabet has agreed to sell renowned robotics firms Boston Dynamics, and the lesser known robotics firm Schaft, to SoftBank, potentially ending its flirtation with the world of humanoid and industrial robots. TechCrunch has more here.

Pandora, the publicly traded, perenially struggling streaming music company, has sold a 16 percent stake in its business to the satellite radio company SiriusXM for $480 million in cash. TechCrunch has more here.

Tesla this morning zoomed past BMW to become the fourth-most valuable automaker in the world, behind Toyota, Daimler and Volkswagen. Bloomberg has more here.

Uber’s Former Employees are Gunning for Management

Earlier this week, at a staff meeting in San Francisco, Uber executives revealed to the company’s 12,000 employees that 20 of their colleagues had been fired and that 57 are still being probed over harassment, discrimination and inappropriate behavior, following a string of accusations that Uber had created a toxic workplace and allowed complaints to go unaddressed for years.

Those complaints had pushed Uber into crisis mode earlier this year. But the calamity may be just beginning.

Indeed, if Uber executives were hesitant to part ways with particular employees for fear of recrimination, it’s suddenly easy to see why. Since announcing those firings on Monday, which reportedly included senior executives, Uber —  which has long operated like an impenetrable fortress — has begun springing leaks right and left.

The question is whether the stories coming to light now are the most damning of the bunch, or leakers are starting in reverse and building toward a kind of crescendo that could finally lead to the ousting of CEO and cofounder Travis Kalanick.

Certainly, he’s having an especially challenging week.

More here.

New Fundings

AvidXchange, a 17-year-old, Charlotte, N.C.-based company that makes accounts payable and on-demand invoice management software, has raised $300 million in funding from MasterCard, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Temasek and Peter Thiel. Finextra has more here.

Houzz, an eight-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based online platform for home remodeling and design services, is close to finalizing a new $400 million round of funding that values the company at around $4 billion, according to a company spokesperson. Recode says the round is being led by Iconiq Capital, the low-flying investment firm that has managed money for Facebook execs Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. Earlier investors GGV Capital and Sequoia Capital are also reportedly participating. Fortune has more here.

Packagd, a months-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based startup whose app curates “unboxing” and product review videos that have been uploaded to YouTube in way that’s reminiscent of QVC video programming, has raised $6 million in Series A funding. Forerunner Ventures and GV co-led the round, which follows on the heels of a $1.5 million injection from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. (Packagd was founded by KPCB general partner Eric Feng.) More here.

Platelet BioGenesis, a three-year-old, Boston, Ma.-based biotech startup developing a process to produce human platelets from stem cells for therapeutic applications, has raised $10 million in Series A financing led by Qiming U.S. Healthcare Fund. Other participants in the round include Vivo Capital, VI Ventures, Adena Partners, eCoast Angels, and others. FinSMEs has more here.

Shedul, a two-year-old, Dubai- and Warsaw-based maker of free scheduling software for the salon and spa industry, has raised $6 million in funding led by Dubai’s Middle East Venture Partners, with participation from BECO Capital and Lumia Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Spektral, a three-year-old, Copenhagen-based visual effects company that applies machine learning to image and video editing, has raised $2.8 million in funding from Litecap and Amp Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Supr Daily, a 1.5-year-old, Mumbai-based daily milk delivery service that’s now active in 15 neighborhoods in Mumbai, has raised $1.5 million from a range of investors to expand its service, including Soma Capital, Great Oaks Ventures, 122 West Ventures, and numerous angel investors, including Y Combinator partner Paul Buchheit. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

The Geekdom Fund, a three-year-old, San Antonio, Tex.-based venture firm that invests locally and closed its debut fund with just $3.4 million in 2015, has closed its second fund with $20 million, reports Xconomy. More here.

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!


DocuSign‘s CEO is prepping for a CEO. It’s been a long time coming, notes Bloomberg.


In addition to raising fresh funds from Sirius XM, Pandora is selling Ticketfly — the ticketing service that it acquired for $450 million in October 2015 for $450 million — to Eventbrite for $200 million. More here.

Legal research company LexisNexis has acquired Ravel Law, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based  legal search, analytics, and visualization platform, for undisclosed terms. Ravel had raised $14 million in funding from X Fund, New Enterprise Associates, North Bridge Venture Partners, Work-Bench and Ulu Ventures. More here.

Uber is reportedly in late-stage talks to acquire some technology and team members from Luxe, the on-demand car valet service. More here.


Erica Baker, an engineer and outspoken advocate for diversity and inclusion in tech, is leaving her job at Slack in San Francisco and moving East to join Kickstarter.

The jockeying for top roles has begun at Oath, the newly combined entity of AOL and Yahoo, with Yahoo’s chief information security, Bob Lord, among the first executives to leave.

After breaking up in 2014, Taylor Swift and Spotify are getting back together.

Tech CEOs Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos, and Safra Catz are among a broader group expected to attend a summit led by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, later this month. More here.


Visa is looking to hire a VP into its Innovation and Strategic Partnerships unit. The job is in San Francisco.

Essential Reads

If you care about cities, says Wired, Apple’s new campus sucks.

The best accelerator programs of 2017.


The benefits of talking to yourself.

Retail Therapy

Cavaliers carpet. (You thought we’d given up on them; we have not!)

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