StrictlyVC: July 12, 2017

Aha! You didn’t realize that we hadn’t published yet today! Gotcha.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Shares of PayPal hit an all-time high today of $56.99, thanks to a new company partnership with Apple.

Another VC bites the dust. Frank Artale, who, over the last decade, worked as a VP of biz dev at Citrix Systems, then joined Ignition Partners in 2011 as a managing director, has resigned from the firm. In a tweeted statement yesterday, Ignition said it had learned of a complaint of misconduct about Artale from a third party. His resignation this past Sunday night was “effective immediately,” says the firm.

Sponsored By . . .

StrictlyVC comes to you this week courtesy of First Democracy VC, a registered equity crowdfunding portal that’s powered by Indiegogo and MicroVentures. Equity crowdfunding lets anyone invest in innovative startups and growing companies. Interested in raising money for your startup?  Apply now. Interested in investing? Check out current investment opportunities here.

AutoTech Ventures Just Landed $120 Million from Transportation Companies for Its Debut Fund

Transportation is a huge category. Just some of the players include automakers and motorcycle manufacturers and trucking firms and logistics companies and dealership groups and repair shop chains and truck rental companies and car leasing companies and telematics companies and energy companies with big networks of gasoline stations around the world.

Given the dramatic changes underway in the way that people travel, you can imagine these industries are acutely interested in knowing what technologies are on the horizon so they can adapt and adjust their strategies.

Enter Autotech Ventures, a three-year-old, Bay Area-based venture fund that’s focused on ground transportation startups and which is promising its limited partners — most of them transportation companies — introductions to the latest and greatest startups.

It’s also offering to make key connections for the startups that make room for it at the table.

The firm’s vertical approach is reminiscent of Fifth Wall Ventures, a real-estate focused fund that recently raised its debut fund from a long line of heavyweights in the real-estate world who also want access to the tech that might impact their industry.

Autotech’s strategy is seemingly working already, too. The firm, which is today announcing the close of its debut fund with $120 million in capital commitments, has already funded six companies, including the growing ride-share giant Lyft.

More here.

New Fundings

Aptrinsic, a year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based company whose software aims to help companies acquire customers by providing them with real-time product usage data, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding co-led by Storm Ventures and Opus CapitalMore here.

Astronomer, a two-year-old, Cincinnati, Oh.-based collaborative data platform developer, has raised $3.5 million in funding led by Wireframe Ventures. Other participants in the round include Frontline VenturesGrand VenturesDrummond RoadCore NetworkM25 Group, and Silicon Valley Bank. TechCrunch has more here.

CAILabs, a four-year-old, Rennes, France-based company that develops and manufactures a range of light shaping components, has raised around $5.7 million in funding, including from Safran Corporate VenturesMore here.

Care/of, a year-old, New York-based company that makes subscription-only vitamin supplements that it says are tailored specifically to user’s needs, has raised $12 million in Series A funding. Goodwater Capital led the round, with participation from Tusk VenturesRRE Ventures, the co-founders of the prototyping tools company InVision, and earlier investor Juxtapose. TechCrunch has more here.

Bitly, a nine-year-old, New York-based link management and analytics platform, has taken $63 million in funding from Spectrum Equity in a deal that sees the growth equity firm take a majority stake in the business. TechCrunch has more here.

Clear Ballot, an eight-year-old, Boston-based company that makes voting machines and accompanying software, has raised $18 million in new funding from Bessemer Venture PartnersVentureforgoodDN Capital, and individual investors. Boston Business Journal has more here.

Deep Instinct, a three-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based cybersecurity startup, has raised $32 million in Series B funding led by CNTP, with participation from NVIDIA and Coatue ManagementMore here.

E-Scape Bio, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based biopharmaceutical company that’s developing therapies to treat neurodegenerative diseases, has raised additional Series A funding that brings the round’s total to $63 million. OrbiMedled the funding; it was joined by Novo Holding A/SJohnson & Johnson InnovationNovartis Venture FundOsage University PartnersLilly Asia Ventures and Sutter Hill VenturesMore here.

Evelo Biosciences, a two-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based biotech company focused on monoclonal microbials, has raised $50 million in Series B funding, including from Flagship PioneeringGVCelgeneMayo Clinic, and Alexandria Venture Investments. FierceBiotech has more here.

Flashpoint, a seven-year-old, New York-based business risk intelligence company, has raised $28 million in Series C funding led by Georgian Partners. Earlier backers Greycroft PartnersTechOperatorsLeaders FundJump CapitalBloomberg Beta, and Cisco Investments also joined the round. More here., a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based AI-based language tool to help sales and customer service reps, has raised $20 million in Series A1 funding. Norwest Venture Partners and Shlomo Kramer led the round; they were joined by Wing Venture Capital and NextWorld Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Hutch Interiors, a nearly -year-old, Los Angeles-based interior design tech startup, raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Zillow Group. TechCrunch has more here.

iCapital Network, a four-year-old, New York-based platform offering access to curated private equity funds, hedge funds and more to registered investment advisors and others, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from UBS Financial ServicesMore here.

Lianshang, a two-year-old, Beijing-based online fabric trading platform where customers can purchase fabric and fabric manufacturers can bid on orders, has raised $30 million in what it’s calling pre-Series C funding. China Renaissance Private Equity Fund and Fengshang Capital co-led the round, with participation from IDG Capital and China Growth Capital. China Money Network has more here.

Lightbend, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose platform enables developers to create message-driven applications that scale on multicore and cloud computing architectures, has raised $15 million in funding from Bain Capital VenturesBlue Cloud VenturesIBMIntel CapitalJuniper Ventures and Shasta VenturesMore here.

Nok Nok Labs, a six-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based online security and authentication company, has raised $8 million in Series D funding led by Motorola Solutions Venture Capital. Earlier backers DCM VenturesDDSDOCOMO InnovationsKorea Information Certificate AuthorityLenovo Group, and ONSET Ventures also joined the round. More here.

Petainer, an eight-year-old, U.K.-based maker of high performance and sustainable packaging, has raised €10 million ($11.4 million) from Next Wave PartnersMore here.

Qloo, a five-year-old, New York-based cultural artificial intelligence data science platform, has raised $6.5 million in funding, including from AXA Strategic Ventures and Sir Elton John. TechCrunch has more here.

RecordGram, a Miami-based music collaboration app developer that won TechCrunch’s “Battlefield” competition in New York in May, has raised $1 million in seed funding from New World Angels and other, undisclosed investors. The Miami Herald has more here.

Revere, a year-old, New York-based startup that makes a line of ready-to-mix pre and post workout powder formulas, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Lerer Hippeau Ventures, with help from SterlingVC and Brand Foundry VenturesMore here.

Revolut, a three-year-old, London-based “banking alternative,” has raised $66 million in funding led by Index Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Balderton Capital and Ribbit Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

RiskLens, a six-year-old, Spokane, Wa.-based company that helps businesses understand how much cyberattacks could cost them, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Osage Venture Partners. Other participants in the round include Paladin Capital GroupDell Technologies Capital and Kick-Start. GeekWire has more here.

Sendence, a three-year-old, New York City-based platform for building and running real-time applications, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from Boldstart VenturesGreycroft PartnersContour Venture PartnersNotation Capital, and Resolute Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

SenseTime, a three-year-old, Hong Kong-based artificial intelligence startup focused on face, language, and vehicle recognition, along with other object recognition and image processing, has raised a whopping $410 million in Series B funding. The round includes two portions: a Series B1 round, led by the Chinese private equity firm CDH Investments, and a B2 round led by Chinese investment firm Sailing Capital. China Money Network has more here.

Shanghai Slamtec, an eight-year-old, Shanghai, China-based maker of laser sensors for robot localization and navigation, has raised $22 million in new funding led by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, with participation from ChinaEquity Group and Shenzhen Guozhong Venture Capital Management. China Money Network has more here.

Sonoma Creamery, an 86-year-old, Sonoma, Ca.-based maker of deeelicious cheeses and cheese snacks, has raised $10 million in funding from Svoboda Capital Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm. The Sonoma Index-Tribune has more here.

Transfix, a four-year-old, New York-based transportation startup that matches customers needing interstate freight shipping with truck drivers needing to make deliveries, has raised $42 million in Series C funding. Previous backer New Enterprise Associates led the round, with participation from unnamed strategic investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Zently, a year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based app for renters that helps them pay rent on time, flag maintenance issues to their landlords, and split shared expenses with roommates, has raised $1.6 million led by Montage Ventures, with participation from unnamed angel investors in the real estate industry. TechCrunch has more here.

ZeroFOX, a four-year-old, Baltimore, Md.-based cybersecurity company focused on the particular risks associated with social media and digital channels, has raised $40 million in funding co-led by Redline Capital Management and Silver Lake Waterman. Earlier backers New Enterprise AssociatesHighland Capital Partners, and Core Capital, also joined the round. More here.

Zhenkunhang, a 21-year-old, Shanghai City, China-based e-commerce platform for industrial products, has raised $52 million in Series B funding. Eastern Bell Venture Capital led the round, and was joined by Shenzhen Cowin Venture Capital Investments. China Money Network has more here.

New Funds

Fifth Wall Ventures, a new real-estate-focused venture firm that we’d written about in May, has launched an accelerator program. More here.

FlyBridge Capital Partners has raised $3 million for XFactor Ventures, a new venture fund that will invest $100,000 into 30 companies that are raising pre-seed or seed stage rounds. The companies must have at least one female founder. More here.

Toyota is the latest Fortune 500 company to launch an AI focused venture capital fund. The initial early-stage fund will deploy $100 million and operate as a subsidiary of the Toyota Research Institute. More here.


Albertsons, the national grocery-chain, has put its IPO plans on hold again, according to Bloomberg, which says Amazon looked at the company before agreeing to acquire Whole Foods.

Razer, the U.S.-based gaming firm, is looking to stage an IPO that would value it at up to $5 billion, says Bloomberg. More here.


Logitech is one of the best-known brands of keyboards, mice, headphones and webcams. Now, it wants to expand its product line into the game console market and to do it, it’s acquiring headset maker Astro Gaming in an all-cash deal. According to Crunchbase, Astro Gaming had raised at least $3.5 million from Triangle Peak Partners. Cnet has more here.

Security software giant Symantec is continuing its recent spate of acquisitions with the news that it plans to buy the five-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based cybersecurity company Skycure, which specializes in predicting, detecting, and preventing a range of attacks, including malware, network, and vulnerability exploits. Skycure had raised around $28 million in funding prior to this acquisition, including from Pitango Venture CapitalFoundation Capital, and Shasta Ventures. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. VentureBeat has more here.


YC President Sam Altman wants to find and support a slate of candidates for the 2018 California elections.

AG Gangadhar, the head of the engineering department where former Uber employee Susan Fowler worked, has left the car-hailing startup. The circumstances of his departure are unclear, says Recode.

Andrew Hedin has been promoted to vice president at Bessemer Venture Partners, which he joined in 2015. Before joining Bessemer, Hedin worked in venture capital with F-Prime Capital Partners.

Former Kleiner Perkins spokeperson Christina Lee has joined Amazon as VP of worldwide consumer PR, according to Dan Primack of Axios.

Michael Ronen will join Softbank’s Vision Fund as a partner. Previously, Ronen was the co-chief operating officer of Goldman’s global technology, media and telecom group. Softbank says he’s moving from New York to San Francisco for the role.

Twitter is bringing aboard a new CFO: Ned Segal, a longtime Goldman Sachs banker who was most recently SVP of finance at Intuit. He’s receiving around $15 million in stock the process.

BlackRock’s global chief investment strategist, Richard Turnill, thinks Bitcoin and Ethereum prices are officially in bubble territory. “I look at the charts, and to me that looks pretty scary and reminiscent of what we’ve seen before.”

Lyon Wong has resigned as a general partner of Spectrum 28, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm he co-founded in 2015 and that closed its debut fund with roughly $170 million. Axios, which has the scoop, was told the official reason is “urgent personal and family matters.” Because Wong’s resignation has triggered a key-man provision, the fund has temporarily shifted into limited operations as cofounder Kent Ho works to take over as sole general partner.

Mark Zuckerberg is trying to understand America, so he’s embarked on a journey to meet people who don’t typically cross his path. But there are rules to abide by if you’re about to meet him . . .


Serial entrepreneur Max Levchin says his San Francisco-based startup studio is launching a new company and looking for a founding CTO. Write to if you’re interested.

Essential Reads

VCs are still debating whether or not to dive into ICOs.

SoundCloud is sinking.

Le uh-oh. Last summer LeEco announced it intended to purchase the U.S.-based TV maker Vizio for $2 billion. The deal fell through in March amid myriad problems surrounding LeEco, including a major cash crunch. Allegedly the deal included a $100 million buyer-termination fee and now Vizio has filed suit in a California court to collect payment. TechCrunch has more here.


Climate change; it’s much worse than you think.

United wants to sell your seat to someone else.

Sounds like quite a party.

Retail Therapy

Buy your own island off the coast of Portland, Maine. It’s $8 million and probably won’t be around long (see climate change article above). But, your own island!

Filed Under:

Don’t Miss Out!

Sign up today to receive a free daily email with everything you need to start your day. Plus, keep track of the companies and personalities that will shape the industry in the months and years to come. Let StrictlyVC be your very own venture capital concierge.

StrictlyVC on Twitter