StrictlyVC: July 28, 2017

Friday! Hope you have a first-rate weekend, everyone. If you need a laugh, there’s always this to read and re-read.

Also, thanks to those of you who flagged a mistake yesterday. We called Stripe a publicly traded company, which it is not. We had Square on the brain.

See you soon.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Amazon said yesterday that quarterly profit fell fully 77 percent in the second quarter even as sales jumped — a sign of the high cost of its increasing dominance of retail.

SoftBank is reportedly in talks to lead a new $1 billion financing for Ofo, the three-year-old Chinese bike-sharing company that already has raised roughly $1.3 billion to date, including from Alibaba, DST Global, Didi Chuxing and Atomico. The deal could value the young company at close to $3 bilion.

Stitch Fix, the mail-order clothing service backed by Benchmark, Baseline Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and WTI, has filed confidentially for an initial public offering, sources tell TechCrunch.

The first 30 Tesla Model 3s are officially being delivered to their owners later today. Tesla expects to be producing 20,000 models a month by December.

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The Race to Repair our Hearing — With Medicine

On any bustling city street, in the middle of the afternoon, it’s probably the case that half or more people are wearing earbuds, while the rest are abiding the noise pollution all around them. No one thinks twice about it, either.

The reality is that from a very young age, our hearing is now under assault. Little wonder that one in eight people in the United States aged 12 years or older has hearing loss in both ears, based on standard hearing examinations. By age 65, one in three people has hearing loss.

The problem will only grow as more people flock to city centers. According to recent United Nations data, roughly 54 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas right now, and that number is expected to hit 66 percent by 2050, meaning cities could take in another 2.5 billion people, accounting for population growth.

With any luck, in our lifetimes, potentially soon, even, some of this hearing loss will be fixable — not with hearing aids or cochlear implants, which aren’t available to everyone and don’t work for a high percentage of people anyway. Scientists think instead that the combination of human genetics and single cell expression profiling has brought us to the point where medicine can help fix hearing. In fact, there are right now a small number of outfits quietly racing to develop the first approved drug for hearing loss, and if, like us, you live with a playlist unspooling in your ears part of each day, you should be rooting for them to succeed.

Some are further along than others, as a recent Xconomy piece observed. San Diego-based Otonomy has a drug for swimmer’s ear that could be approved this year. Meanwhile, Auris Medical, a Swiss biotech whose tinnitus candidate last year failed to beat a so-called dummy therapy in a Phase 3 trial, is currently working on other hearing loss conditions.

Both Otonomy and Auris Medical are publicly traded, but they have peers (and rivals) in the still-private world. Two young startups to watch — they have strong founders and top venture backing on their side — are Frequency Therapeutics and Decibel Therapeutics, both based in Boston.

Decibel Therapeutics was incubated by the powerhouse investment firm and incubator Third Rock Ventures. Along with SROne (a venture fund that counts GlaxoSmithKline as its sole investor), Third Rock provided the company with $52 million to get started in 2015, and it more recently raised an undisclosed amount of funding from GV.

Anthony Philippakis, a venture partner at GV who led the deal, says one aspect of Decibel that excited him is its portfolio approach, with some of its focus on single cell genomics, some on human genetics, some on direct-to-patient clinical trials and some on generating phenotypic data about the hearing system. (Philippakis seems to have embraced a portfolio approach to his own work. In addition to working with GV, he’s a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the chief data officer at Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.)

More here.

New Fundings

AutocloudPro, a year-old, Shanghai-based startup that’s developing smart cloud platforms for the sales and distribution of auto parts, has raised around $17 million in funding from Qingsong FundShoutai Investment GroupLangsheng InvestmentMatrix Partners China and Fenghou Capital. China Money Network has more here.

Haimawan, a four-year-old, Shenzhen-based developer of cloud-based mobile operating systems, has raised $58 million in Series C funding, including from the Shenzhen Stock Exchange-listed Elefirst Science & Technology Co. China Money Network has more here.

SpaceX, the 14-year-old, Hawthorne, Ca.-based space company, has raised $351 million in funding, as disclosed in public filings that were obtained by Equidate, a marketplace for private company stock. Equidate says SpaceX is now valued at around $21 billion. That puts it in the rare company of six other venture-backed companies currently valued at $20 billion or more. The New York Times has more here.

Traveloka, a five-year-old, Indonesia-based online travel portal that serves Southeast Asia’s six primary markets, has raised $350 million in funding from Expedia at a valuation of more than $1 billion, says TechCrunch. Earlier backers include East VenturesHillhouse Capital and Sequoia CapitalMore here.

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The program looks for entrepreneurially minded founders who run pre-seed companies who are between the ages of 18 and 28. Draper University has launched 280+ startups that have raised $50M+, and a number of them have since been acquired. Apply by August 11th at


Dropbox, the San Francisco-based cloud-storage and file-sharing company, is reportedly in talks with Goldman Sachs as it prepares for a possible IPO.

Redfin, the Seattle-based real estate brokerage company, last night priced 9.23 million shares at $15 per share — slightly above its original target range of $12 to $14. The shares have since surged more than 30 percent today and are currently trading at above $21.

Purple, a two-year-old, Alpine, Utah-based direct-to-consumer mattress startup, is going public via a $1.1 billion reverse merger with Global Partner Acquisition Corp. TechCrunch has more here.


AltspaceVR, a Redwood City, Ca.-based social platform for virtual reality, said it’s shutting down after running out of cash. The company had raised more than $15 million in funding, including from GVRaine VenturesRothenberg VenturesFormation 8, and Lux Capital.

Mesh Wi-Fi router company Eero has acqu-hired the team behind two-year-old, San Francisco-based Thington, maker of a smart home management app. Thington had raised two rounds of seed funding (of undisclosed amounts), including from investors Stewart Butterfield and Saul Klein. Eero has raised $90 million from investors so far, including Shasta VenturesIndex VenturesMenlo Ventures, and HomebrewMore here., a Hollywood-based technology company owned by Black Eyed Peas singer, has added struggling smart home platform Wink to its roster of products. Fortune has more here.


Easy come, easy go. Jeff Bezos, who became the richest person in the world yesterday, lost that title with Amazon’s second-quarter whiff.

Jessica Lessin, founder of the news outlet The Information, is launching an accelerator to help budding subscription-based news startups.

Another day, another billionaire who is buying a renowned media property. This time, it’s Laurene Powell Jobs taking an majority stake in The Atlantic magazine (with full ownership possible in the coming years, says the New York Times).

Meg Whitman says Uber’s next CEO will not be Meg Whitman.


CSC Generation, a venture firm started by founder, investor, and high-school dropout Justin Yoshimura, is looking to hire an associate. The job is in San Francisco.

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Essential Reads

Snap‘s lockup period ends on Monday, potentially allowing early investors in the March IPO to unload hundreds of millions of shares on an already wary market.

Amazon just launched another private label brand, The Fix. It’s aimed at women and features shoes and handbags inspired by designer trends but at discounted prices.

Don’t worry, your Roomba isn’t spying on you, says iRobot‘s CEO.


Someone just destroyed his $288,000 Ferrari one hour after buying it.

How to build resilience in midlife.

Finland’s hard pivot into the land of bizarre sporting competitions.

Retail Therapy

Ugg sneakers. Because you can’t wear sheepskin boots in summer.

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