StrictlyVC: June 26, 2017

Monday! What a weekend. If you were online and obsess about all things Silicon Valley — and we recognize there are plenty of you who, to your credit, do not fall into this camp — you already know what we’re about to tell you: Binary Capital’s limited partners are right now trying to decide whether or not to move forward with young venture fund. (We predicted a few days ago this would happen.)

Binary cofounder Justin Caldbeck — outed last week in a report for making unwanted advances to at least six women in the tech industry — downplayed the story at first. Within 36 hours, after being shamed by many more prominent people in the venture industry, Caldbeck had issued a hollow-sounding apology about a self-rehabilitation campaign he planned to launch. Soon after, Binary’s investors were discussing a third fund that Binary has been rushing to close. (The firm was aware for some time that an expose about Caldbeck was about to hit.) As of Saturday, that new fund has been suspended, and now both Caldbeck and a newer member of Binary, Matt Mazzeo (formerly of Lowercase Capital), are out of the firm.

Mazzeo’s friends say he he left because he made an obvious mistake in joining. Caldbeck presumably had no choice. Meanwhile, Binary’s remaining investor, cofounder Jonathan Teo, is trying to see what he can salvage from this situation. He seems to be starting with his own reputation, suggesting in a statement sent to TechCrunch last night that he was himself clueless about Caldbeck. “I trusted my partner and it is clear that I shouldn’t have.  The predatory behavior Justin has been accused of is deplorable, and there will be zero tolerance at our firm of any conduct that is demeaning to women.”

Interesting tack; we don’t think it will work but stay tuned. In the meantime, no column today.

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New Fundings

Autotalks, a nine-year-old, Israel-based fabless semiconductor company, raised $40 million in Series D funding, including from the Mirai Creation Investment FundMore here.

Clobotics, a year-old, Shanghai-based drone platform and analytics service, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by GGV Capital. China Money Network has more here.

Dook Book, an 11-year-old, Shanghai-based book publisher that also has digital media and film operations, has raised $18 million in Series A funding led by Legend Capital, with participation from Zhihe Capital and Neixiang Fund. China Money Network has more here.

Fintonic, a five-year-old, Madrid, Spain-based personal financial management app, has raised €25 million ($28 million) in Series B funding, including from the banking and financial services giant ING Group and the insurance group PSN. TechCrunch has more here.

Homer Logistics, a three-year-old, New York-based startup aiming to optimize local, final-mile delivery using its logistics technology, has raised $8.5 million in Series A funding led by Two Sigma Ventures. Other participants in the round include Lerer Hippeau VenturesRSE Ventures, and Laconia Capital GroupMore here.

Houzz, an eight-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based home design platform, has confirmed that it has raised $400 million in Series E funding, reportedly at a $4 billion valuation. Iconiq Capital led the round; other participants include Wellington Management and earlier investors GGV CapitalSequoia Capitaland Zeev Ventures. The WSJ has more here.

M2i, a four-year-old, Paris-based industrial groupe that manufactures and markets natural products meant to replace traditional pesticides, has raised €12 million ($13.4 million) in funding from Idinvest PartnersMore here.

OMG Digital, a year-old, Ghana-based media startup dubbed the “BuzzFeed of Africa,” has raised $1.1 million in seed funding from Kima VenturesSoma CapitalComcast Ventures Catalyst FundSocial CapitalM&Y Growth Partners, and Macro Ventures, and a long list of angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Outschool, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based platform for live online classes catering to children in grades K through 12, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding led by Collab+Sesame, a venture vehicle involving Sesame Workshop (the non-profit organization behind Sesame Street) and Collaborative Fund. TechCrunch has more here.

Provention Bio, a year-old, Lebanon, N.J.-based developer of therapeutics for preventing immune-mediated diseases, has raised $28.4 million in Series A funding co-led by Johnson & Johnson Innovation and JDRF T1D FundMore here.

Satellogic, a seven-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based space tech company that sells high-resolution satellite images, has raised $27 million in Series B funding led by Tencent, with participation from Pitanga (a São Paulo-based firm) and CrunchFund. TechCrunch has more here.

Silvernest, a 1.5-year-old, Denver-based roommate-matching service for baby boomers and empty nesters, has raised $1.3 million in seed funding, including from Halogen Ventures1843 CapitalRockies Venture ClubInvestor’s Circle and 500 StartupsMore here.

SparkCognition, a four-year-old, Austin, Tex-based company that makes cognitive security analytics software, has raised $32.5 million in Series B funding led by Verizon Ventures, with participation from Boeing’s HorizonX VenturesMore here.

TechSee, a two-year-old, Tel Aviv-based AI-powered app that aims to expedite call resolution for customer support centers, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding. Planven Investments led the round, with participation from innogyComdata Group, and earlier backer OurCrowd, among others. More here.

Tizeti, a five-year-old, Menlo Park Ca.- and Lagos, Nigeria-based high-speed wireless networking company, has raised $2.1 million in funding from Western Technology InvestmentSocial CapitalVy CapitalPicus CapitalAce & Co.Lynett Capital PartnersZeno Ventures and individual angels. TechCrunch has more here.

Upstream Security, a months-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based cloud-based cyber-security platform for connected and autonomous vehicles, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Glilot Capital PartnersMore here.

Vineti, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of cell and gene therapy software, has raised $13.75 million in Series A funding from GE VenturesMayo Clinic VenturesDFJ and LifeForce Capital. Vineti was previously known as Vitruvian Networks. TechCrunch has more here.

Yoyo Wallet, a four-year-old, Lonon-based  mobile payment and customer loyalty platform, has raised a £12 million in Series B funding led by the food retail giant Metro Group. Other participants in the round include Woodford Investment Management and Touchstone Innovations. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

Applied Ventures, the venture-capital arm of Applied Materials, is partnering with the government-backed fund of funds Korea Venture Investment Corporation on a $40 million fund that will be used to invest in Korean startups. More here.

TLcom Capital, an 18-year-old, London and Nairobi-based venture capital firm, says it had raised $40 million for its new Africa fund, TIDE Africa Fund. The outfit is targeting $100 million. More here.

In May, we told you (courtesy of Axios) that Dropbox’s head of corporate development strategy, Xuezhao Lan, had left the company to launch a new venture capital firm with two corporate development pros from elsewhere. Looks like that firm is called Basis Set Ventures, and it’s targeting $136 million for its debut fund. Here’s the SEC filing, which also lists as a director Richard Peng, formerly a corporate VP and head of M&A for Tencent.


Best, a ten-year-old, Hangzhou, China-based logistics company founded by Google China’s former co-president, Johnny Chou, has filed plans to raise $750 million via a U.S. public offering. Alibaba Group owns 23.4 percent of the company; the next biggest outside investor is IDG-Accel China, which owns 6.2 percent. Reuters has more on the company — and other Chinese logistics companies that have been going public — here.

Ten companies are expected to go public on U.S. exchanges this week; of the most interest to VC investors: Blue Apron. Renaissance Capital has more here.


Pearl Automation, a year-old, Scotts Valley. Ca.-based maker of a wireless rear-view mirror camera for cars, has shut down, reports Axios. The company had quietly raised $50 million in Series A and B funding, rounds that Accel PartnersShasta VenturesVenrock and Wellcome TrustMore here.

JustGiving, a 17-year-old, peer-to-peer online fundraising platform, has been acquired by Blackbaud, a U.S.-based software and services provider for not-for-profit organizations. Blackbaud is paying £95 million ($120 million) to procure “all outstanding equity interests of JustGiving,” it tells VentureBeat. More here.

Last week, JPMorgan analysts wondered whether Wal-Mart might make a rival bid to acquire Whole Foods; the company doesn’t plan to get in Amazon‘s way, though, reports Bloomberg. More here.

Hobbled by a deadly air bag scandal, Japanese auto supplier Takata filed for bankruptcy protection late yesterday. The company’s air bags — which are prone to erupting — are used on vehicles for nearly all of the world’s major automakers, affecting about one-quarter of all vehicles on the road in the U.S. More here.


Revolution CEO and co-founder of AOL Steve Case is investing a fresh $500,000 across five startups in regions that include Ann Arbor, Mi., and Columbis, Oh. as part of his “Rise of the Rest” bus tour. More details here.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday pitched 21 top U.S. CEOs on investment in his country, ahead of a meeting with Donald Trump today. At the meeting: Apple’s Tim Cook and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, who was spied lunching afterward with Uber cofounder Travis Kalanick.

Joanna Rees, the founder of VSP Capital, a venture firm that was plagued by in-fighting and dissolved roughly a decade ago by its limited partners, is in the process of raising a new venture fund, we’re told. Rees has more recently been working in marketing at the agency West.

Pandora founder and CEO Tim Westergren plans to step down, says Recode. Westergren only returned to the company last year after a decade-long absence.

Wendy Tan White, an entrepreneur turned general partner at Entrepreneur First since late 2015,  has joined the U.K.-based early-stage firm BGF Ventures as a partner. White previously cofounded, a site builder that was sold to Yell Group (now Hibu) in 2012 for $37 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Is it just us? Other than Susan Wojcicki (and Sheryl Sandberg, who has seemingly already said no), we can’t get excited about this list of Uber CEO candidates.


Eniac Ventures, an eight-year-old, seed-stage firm that just closed its fourth fund with $100 million in April, is looking to hire an analyst. The job is in San Francisco.


After a steep fall in 2016, India is on track for a record funding level this year. Tech in Asia has more here.

Essential Reads

Facebook is getting into the scripted content business now, too.

Amazon is trying to  patent a multi-level beehive-like tower that would deploy and receive delivery drones.

Amazon’s Echoa review.


T.J. Miller on leaving “Silicon Valley”: it felt like a break-up.

Where the world’s wealthiest spend their weekends.

Preet Bharara’s second act.

Retail Therapy

Oh, Ken, you’ve changed (too much).

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