StrictlyVC: June 23, 2017

Friday! And not a minute too soon.

Before we wish you a wonderful weekend — and we do hope you’ll have one! — we want to address something that readers have been asking us, which is why we haven’t weighed in yet on The Information’s report about venture investor Justin Caldbeck, a report to which we linked yesterday morning. (It’s here if you missed it.)

It’s a detailed account about six female founders who say Caldbeck made unwanted advances toward them, several of whom allowed the outlet to publish their names. Are we outraged by the report? Disgusted? Absolutely. Do we think one individual represents his industry more broadly? You may be disappointed here, but we do not.

There are rotten people everywhere who take advantage of their positions: in academia, the arts, advertising, sports, finance. These people should be outed and they should lose their standing. In fact, we hope that if The Information’s report is correct, Binary’s limited partners will take action, and swiftly. (We’re guessing Caldbeck is a “key man,” which complicates things, but a firm’s investors always have options.)

In the meantime, we’re very thankful that smart entrepreneurs, particularly women founders, have a growing number of funding options so that they can speak out about an unethical investor in the industry without fear of burning their bridges to future capital. That wasn’t always the case. It’s not easy now, we’re sure. But that door is open at last.

Sponsored By . . .

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As Uber’s Value Slips on the Secondary Market, Lyft’s is Rising

It’s been happening for months. The value of Uber’s shares has been falling on the secondary market, hammered by a barrage of press attention paid to its real and perceived misdeeds.

That slip is widely seen as the reason Uber investors strong-armed CEO Travis Kalanick out of his role as CEO on Tuesday night. As numerous sources confirmed to us yesterday (and The Information first reported in late April), Uber is right now valued at roughly $50 billion by secondary shareholders — a far cry from the $68 billion that its primary investors have assigned it. Such a fall is especially notable given that last year, secondary investors were willing to pay full freight — even a premium — for any Uber shares they could lasso.

Meanwhile, Lyft’s stock is on the rise. Specifically, say our sources, the typical 20 percent discount assigned to shares by secondary purchasers has, in Lyft’s case, dropped to between 13 and 9 percent, as buy-side interest grows and existing shareholders hang on for the ride. “We’ve definitely seen pricing in Lyft go up,” says one source who asked not to be named in an article about related trades.

“Part of that is the clouds around Uber have made Lyft relatively more attractive,” says this person. But that rise is also a function of Lyft’s recent round of fundraising, he says, noting that in April, Lyft closed on $600 million in fresh funding, at a $7.5 billion valuation.

It’s hard to know if these trend lines will continue, obviously. Much depends on how quickly Uber is able to fill out its executive ranks and with whom.

But sharks are circling, with prospective buyers trying to gauge fear in the market — and how much it might buy them.

More here.

New Fundings

Alert Logic, a 15-year-old, Houston, Tex.-based company that sells Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, has locked down a $70 million syndicated credit facility that was spearheaded by Square 1 Bank. FinSMEs has more here.

Algorithmia, a four-year-old, Seattle-based marketplace that allows developers to easily tap into its catalog of 3,500 algorithms, functions and machine-learning models, has raised $10.5 million in funding led by Google’s new AI-focused fund. Other participants in the round include new investor Work-Bench and previous backers Madrona Venture Group, Rakuten Ventures and Osage University Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Centriq Technology, a 1.5-year-old, San Rafael, Ca.-based maker of a home management platform, has raised $4.8 million in seed funding led by Office Depot, which is partnering with the company to develop an app for its own customers. The SunSentinel has more here.

Datometry, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based virtualization platform that makes databases interchangeable by intercepting and converting an application’s communication with the database in real-time, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Redline Capital, with participation from Dell Technologies Capital and Acorn Pacific Ventures. FinSMEs has more here.

Duocaitou, a three-year-old, China-based crowdfunding platform for hotel and apartment projects, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. DCM Ventures led the round, and was joined by Shunwei Capital. China Money Network has more here.

Elevate Security, a months-old, San Francisco-based behavior-focused security platform, has raised $2 million in funding, including from Costanoa Ventures and Webb Investment Network. has more here.

Hosco, a six-year-old, Geneva, Switzerland-based job recruitment platform for the hospitality sector, has raised €6.44 million ($7.2 million) in Series A funding, including from Athos Capital, along with other unnamed funds and earlier backers. has more here.

Hubdoc, a six-year-old, Toronto, Canada-based cloud accounting platform, has raised $4.85 million in seed funding co-led by BDC Capital and Round13 Capital, with participation from Hyde Park Venture Partners.

Kalray, a nine-year-old, Rhone-Alpes, France-based developer of low-power microprocessors, has raised $26 million in new funding from Safran and Penpai, along with earlier investors ACE Management, CEA Investissement, EUREKAP, Héléa Financière and INOCAP Gestion. More here.

MOL Global, a 17-year-old, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia-based online payment firm that traded on (then was delisted from) Nasdaq, has raised $20 million in funding from the gaming company Razer. Razer bought the equity from earlier backers in a deal that values the company at $100 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Synthio, a six-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based customer data platform, has raised $10.5 million in new funding led by Fulcrum Equity Partners, with participation from Vocap Investment Partners, Spinnaker VC Direct, Bahns Stanley, Stanley Partners, Ellis Capital, Buckhead Investments, the AIM Group and Silicon Valley Bank. More here.

Westwell Lab, a two-year-old, Shanghai-based AI chipmaker specializing in “neuromorphic” engineering, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by Fosun Group. China Money Network has more here.


Between Blue Apron’s plans to go public and Amazon’s proposed acquisition of Whole Foods, a Chicago-based meal kit company called Home Chef has reportedly begun exploring strategic options that could include a sale, which could be worth around $600 million, says Reuters. According to Crunchbase, Home Chef has raised $57 million in funding, including from L Catterton, Agility Capital, Shining Capital and Guild Capital. More here.

Speaking of Amazon and Whole Foods, JPMorgan research analysts suggested in a note yesterday that Walmart could still step in as a rival bidder. More here.


Waymo has hired Satish Jeyachandran, Tesla’s former director of hardware engineering, as it moves closer to commercializing its self-driving vehicle technology. Bloomberg has the story here.

Ousted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who remains on the company’s board, owns more than 30 percent of the company’s shares, says The Information, despite the company’s many, many (many) rounds of funding to date.


Omidyar Technology Ventures is looking to hire an associate. The job is in Redwood City, Ca.

Essential Reads

Tesla is reportedly in talks to create its own streaming music service to ensure “maximum happiness” for its car customers. (Tweets Pandora’s cofounder and former CTO, Tom Conrad, “Finally Elon is tackling something truly difficult.”)

It’s looking like Theranos might run out of cash if shareholders don’t loan it $50 million.

Target represented a third of Hampton Creek‘s retail business; now Target is pulling all of its products over allegations of potential health issues.

It’s not just a problem on the secondary markets; a large cap mutual fund also marked down the value of Uber‘s stock last month.


It’s offal, but an “ugly food” boot camp is enticing chefs and diners alike.

How you can take photos while recording video on your iPhone.

Oh, Goop.

Retail Therapy

The new-and-improved Super 8 is coming.

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