StrictlyVC: June 21, 2017

Wednesday (though given the news cycle, it feels like it should be Sunday already!).

No doubt you’re aware that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is out as CEO (though remains as a board member). As we kind of suspected would happen, his decision to take a leave of absence, yet actively back-channel with managers, didn’t seem to go over so well with the company’s investors, who pressured him to resign last night. We’ll be working on follow-up stories about this today (along with half of Silicon Valley) so stay tuned. In the meantime, power VC and Uber board member Bill Gurley, tweeted last night: “There will be many pages in the history books devoted to @travisk – very few entrepreneurs have had such a lasting impact on the world.”

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Top News in the A.M.

Uber‘s CEO is gone, but the many lawsuits and other challenges that embroil the company aren’t going away any time soon.

Uber is Implementing Tipping; How Well it Works Will Be Critical

On the heels of what must feel to employees like the longest six months in Uber‘s eight-year history, the company last week tried ending relentless news reports about its corporate misbehavior by encouraging its CEO, Travis Kalanick, to take a leave of absence. (He obliged before coming under increased pressure and resigning last night.)

Yesterday morning, Uber took things a step further, introducing an initiative that it’s calling “180 days of change” and announcing, most notably, that it will start allowing riders to tip drivers in the app.

This is no small thing. Uber has long rejected the idea of tipping for numerous reasons. The company had suggested, for example, that tips could lead to unpleasant consequences, such as drivers who might forego pick-ups in poorer neighborhoods in favor of wealthier enclaves where they might generate heftier tips.

Tipping also threatened to make a very clean experience too messy for Uber’s liking. (In the company’s words, it said it would create a confusing measure of uncertainty for customers.)

While its change of heart has been welcome by most, others were quick to assign ulterior motives to the company, whose business has been impacted — at least in the U.S. — by its abundance of poor publicity in recent months.

More here.

New Fundings

Cybereason, a five-year-old, Boston-based endpoint protection company, has raised $100 million in new funding from earlier backer SoftBank.  The start-up has raised a total of $189 million in funding to-date, and its backers also include CRV, Lockheed Martin and Spark Capital. CNBC has more here.

Fuzic, a year-old, Indianapolis, Ind.-based marketing technology startup that engages with customers via customized music playlists fused with on-demand audio announcements, has raised $3 million in seed funding that brings its total funding to $3.52 million. The round was led by High Alpha, Allos Ventures and Hyde Park Venture Partners. The Indianapolis Business Journal has more here.

GreatHorn, a two-year-old, Belmont, Ma.-based security platform for post-perimeter threat detection and response, has raised $6.3 million in Series A funding co-led by Techstars VC Fund and .406 Ventures, with participation from ff Venture Capital, SoftTech Ventures and RRE Ventures. More here.

Growbots, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based machine-learning startup meant to kickstart the outbound sales process, has raised $2.5 million in funding from Buran VC, Lighter Capital and a number of angel investors. The round brings the company’s total funding to $4.2 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Hubdoc, a six-year-old, Toronto-based accounting technology company that automates financial document collection and processing, has raised roughly $5 million in seed funding co-led by BDC IT Venture Fund and Round13 Capital, with participation from Hyde Park Venture Partners. has more here.

Keypr, a four-year-old, L.A.-based guest experience and management platform for hotels, casinos and luxury residences, has raised $12.8 million in Series A1 funding. Karlani Capital led the round and was joined by individual angels. VentureBeat has more here.

Lingokids, a three-year-old, San Francisco- and Madrid-based English learning platform, has raised $4 million in new funding led by Holtzbrinck Ventures, with participation from JME Venture Capital and Bessemer Ventures Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Mic, a six-year-old, New York-based millennial-focused online content company, has raised $6.5 million in additional Series C funding from WPP PLC, with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Time Warner Investments, kyu Collective and You & Mr. Jones. The round, initially announced in April, has now reached $28.4 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Petasense, a three-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based industrial IoT startup that helps with asset reliability and predictive maintenance, is coming out of stealth today and revealing that it earlier raised $1.8 million in seed funding led by True Ventures, with participation from Felicis Ventures and several angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Rinse, a 3.5-year-old San Francisco-based dry cleaning and laundry delivery service, has raised $14 million in Series B funding led by Partech Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Javelin Ventures, Arena Ventures, Accelerator Ventures, and Structure Capital. The company has now raised $23.5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Rubius Therapeutics, a two-year-old, Cambridge, Ma-based developer of red blood cell therapies, has raised $120 million in new funding, including from earlier backer Flagship Pioneering. Xconomy has more here.

Scalable Capital, a 2.5-year-old, Munich, Germany-based robo-advisory outfit, has raised €30 million ($33.4 million) in funding led by BlackRock, with participation from earlier backers Holtzbrinck Ventures and Tengelmann Ventures. Reuters has more here.

Sequent, a 6.5-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based company that helps banks, transit agencies and other issuers digitize their credit, debit, transit, loyalty or ID cards and distribute them via their own applications, has raised $16 million in funding led by TIS of Japan. Earlier investors Opus Capital Partners, SBT Ventures and Jado Investments also participated. Finextra has more here.

Soldo, a two-year-old, London-based fintech startup that offers a multi-user spending account, has raised $11 million in Series A funding. Accel Partners led the round, with participation from Connect Ventures, InReach Ventures, U-Start and R204 Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Syntimmune, a 3.5-year-old, New York-based biotech startup focused on autoimmune diseases, has raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Apple Tree Partners, with participation from earlier backers. The company has now raised $78 million altogether. Xconomy has more here.

Textio, a nearly three-year-old, Seattle-based company whose intelligent machine learning platform analyzes job listings and hiring outcomes and helps recruiters to better word their job postings, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Scale Venture Partners. Earlier backers Bloomberg Beta, Cowboy Ventures, Emergence Capital and Upside Partnership also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.

TrueLayer, a year-old, London-based startup that’s built a developer platform to make it easier for fintech companies to access bank APIs, has raised $3 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Anthemis Group, with participation from existing investor Connect Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

TPG, an investor in Uber and Airbnb (and guitar maker Fender), is seeking $3 billion for its fourth growth-equity fund, reports Bloomberg. The unit, led by investor Bill McGlashan, last raised $3 billion for its third fund in 2015. More here.

Sorenson Capital, a Salt Lake City-based private equity firm with roughly $1 billion in capital under management, has formed Sorenson Ventures, a new investment group focused on early-stage enterprise software and security investments. Ken Elefant, formerly of Intel Capital, has been brought aboard to lead the group, which will be based in the Bay Area. More here.

Seven Peaks Ventures, a Bend, Ore.-based VC firm that was founded in 2013 by longtime investor Dino Vendetti, is looking to raise up to $30 million for its second fund, shows an SEC filing first flagged by Axios. As readers might remember, ate last year, Docusign Tom Gonser joined the firm as a partner.


Sizing up BuzzFeed. Could this unicorn ever go public? Variety takes a look.


Bessemer Venture Partners has promoted Charles Birnbaum, Kristina Shen, and Amit Karp and to partner. The three joined the firm in 2012, 2012, and 2013, respectively. More here.

Andreessen Horowitz is making an even bigger push into healthcare IT, bringing aboard serial entrepreneur Jorge Conde as a general partner. Conde, who officially starts in September, has spent the last 15 years working largely in genomics, including cofounding the genome analysis company Knome (acquired in 2015 for undisclosed terms) and more recently becoming chief strategy officer at a small biotech company, Syros Pharmaceuticals, which staged an IPO last year. We have more here.

Etsy is reorganizing, including layoff 15 percent to its global workforce. Fortune has more here.

Tesla has hired deep learning and computer vision expert Andrej Karpathy in a key Autopilot role. Karpathy most recently held a role as a researcher at OpenAI, the artificial intelligence nonprofit backed by Elon Musk. TechCrunch has more here.

In related news, Chris Lattner just quit Tesla, tweeting last night, “Turns out that Tesla isn’t a good fit for me after all. I’m interested to hear about interesting roles for a seasoned engineering leader!” Lattner had joined the company in January, after an 11-year run at Apple, where one of his chief contributions was creating the programming language Swift. “Chris just wasn’t the right fit for Tesla, and we’ve decided to make a change,” Tesla had said in a statement earlier in the day.

Y Combinator is adding three new team members: Gustaf Alstromer, formerly product leader of Airbnb’s growth team, is joining as a partner. Meanwhile Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky is taking a visiting partner role, and Jocelyn Robancho, formerly the head of business operations at Hack Reactor, is coming aboard to assist with organizing YC’s startup batches. More here.

Essential Reads

And the battle intensifies: Wal-Mart is now telling some tech companies that if they want its business, they can’t run applications for the retailer on Amazon’s leading cloud-computing service, Amazon Web Services. The WSJ has more here.


To the class of 2050.

Retail Therapy

Cradle outdoor bed. We wouldn’t mind crawling into one of these right now.

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