StrictlyVC: September 8, 2017

FRIDAY. Hope you have a terrific weekend, everyone.

[Ties sneakers. Pulls on headband. Bids fond farewell to unsuspecting pet fish. Heads to nearby elliptical machine.]

Top News in the A.M.

Bitcoin is tumbling on a report that China plans to shutter digital currency exchanges‍​, too.

The Equifax hack; here’s what you need to know (so far).

Holy s. Filecoin, a blockchain data storage network, says it completed its ICO with a record-breaking $257 million in funding, including $52 million raised during a presale, from investors that include Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures. Filecoin is a decentralized storage network; we’d interviewed founder Juan Benet in July. Coindesk has more here.

Sponsored By . . .

CNN. TechCrunch. WSJ. Forbes. Bloomberg. Business Insider. These are a fraction of the outlets where our clients have appeared — and they’ve paid us a fraction of the price most PR firms charge them for our efforts. We’re Rosebud Communications. Find out just how scrappy we are, at

A Stanford Prof’s Advice of Surviving the A**hole at Work

If you’ve never worked for a complete jerk, consider yourself lucky. Roughly one in five people polled say they’ve experienced bullying in the workplace, according to a 2017 study commissioned by the Workplace Bullying Institute. The study — which is actually pretty fascinating — concluded that 61 percent of the time, the bully is the person to whom an employee reports directly. Bullies are also men 70 percent of the time, while 66 percent of the time it’s women who are targets of bullying.

None of this is news to Stanford Professor Bob Sutton, who co-founded both the and Stanford Tech Ventures. He authored “The No Asshole Rule” a decade ago, and, relying on academic studies and thousands of email exchanges and conversations he has had with readers since, Sutton is now publishing a follow-up book next week called “The Asshole Survival Guide.”

We talked with Sutton yesterday about what it means to be an asshole, how to work alongside one and why startups likely have more than their fair share of them.

You cover a lot of ground in this book, which is basically a guide to figuring out a way to survive a terrible human being based on how much power you have. Why write a second book on this particular topic?

“The No Asshole Rule” was really meant to be about building relatively jerk-free cultures, but people from all corners have been approaching me ever since, saying, “I work with a jerk. What do I do?” I sort of became the Dr. Phil for people with asshole problems.

Is this meant to mostly entertain? Is it anecdotal?

I did want it to be entertaining and readable, but I take an evidence-based perspective. I’m an organizational researcher at Stanford, so I’ve carefully reviewed thousands of economic papers on bullying and abusive workplaces.

You talk a lot about creating physical and mental distance from bullies. But I’ve interviewed one of your Stanford colleagues in the past, Jeffrey Pfeffer, who takes a very different stance. He argues that you’ve got to fight bullies or else lose to them. His thinking is that nice guys finish last.

I’ve written two books with Jeff and although he loves making that argument, he’s in the minority.

More here.

New Fundings

DataCubes, a two-year-old, Chicago, Il.-based data science platform for the commercial insurance industry, has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding led by Seyen Capital and MK CapitalMore here.

Meero, a three-year-old, Paris, France-based platform that aims to provide affordable access to professional photography, has raised €15 million ($18 million) in Series A funding. The round was led by Alven Capital, with participation from WhiteStar Capital and earlier investors GFC and Aglaé VenturesMore here.

Pineapple Payments, a 1.5-year-old, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based payment processing company focused on mid-size businesses — both online and offline — has received $35 million in its first institutional round from Providence Strategic GrowthMore here.

Replimune Group, a two-year-old, Woburn, Ma.-based biotechnology company focused on developing a new generation of oncolytic immunotherapies, has raised $55 million in Series B funding led by Foresite Capital. Other participants in the round include Bain Capital Life SciencesRedmile GroupCormorant Asset Management, entities affiliated with Leerink PartnersAtlas VentureForbion Capital Partners, and Omega FundsMore here.

ReWork, a 1.5-year-old, Indonesia-based WeWork-like company, has raised $3 million in “pre-Series A” funding led by the cross-border firm ATM Capital and Indonesia’s Convergence VenturesURWork, a rival to WeWork in China that was itself recently valued at $1.5 billion, also joined the round. More here.

Talkspace, a five-year-old, New York-based online therapy platform, has raised $31 million in Series C funding led by Qumra Capital, with participation from earlier backers Norwest Venture PartnersSpark CapitalSoftBankCompound and FirstTimeMore here.

Vade Secure, an eight-year-old, Picardy, France-based cybersecurity company, has raised €10 million ($12 million) in funding led by Isai FundMore here.

Vekia, a nine-year-old, Lille, France-based predictive analytics company that uses machine learning to help its retail customers forecast demand and supply, has raised €12 million ($14.4 million) in funding led by Serena Capital and BPIFrance, with participation from previous investors Pléiade VentureCapHorn Invest and Zenium Technology PartnersMore here.

New Funds

Almost exactly two years after closing two funds totaling $4.75 billion, the New York-based venture capital and private equity firm Insight Venture Partnershas set its sights on two new funds totaling $5.5 billion, according to the WSJ. (SEC docs show the firm had closed on at least $330 million in commitments for both a of early July.) It was in August 2015 that Insight closed on its current, $3.29 billion “main” fund and a $1.46 billion growth-buyout co-investment vehicle that co-invests alongside the bigger fund. The funds are among the biggest in the venture world, rivaling that of a small group of other firms, including New Enterprise Associates, which closed a $3.3 billion fund in June. More here.

Also Sponsored By . . .

Morgan Conbere loves public transit and values great UX. In fact, Conbere and his co-founders — alums of Google, Apple, and other tech giants — all depended on public transit day-to-day. But it bugged them that there was no modern, simple interface to pay for and ride the bus. So Token Transit was born — a FinLab company (and one of today’s sponsors) — and buying a bus pass will never be the same.


After a pivot and months of speculation about the future of car valet and concierge startup Luxe, automaker Volvo Cars says it’s acquiring the startup’s platform, technology, key staff and other assets to  fuel its own digital services strategy. Terms of the acquisition aren’t being disclosed, but the assumption here, says TechCrunch, is that Luxe’s venture investors are receiving “pennies on the dollar.” More here.

Publicly traded Cloudera said yesterday that it is acquiring Fast Forward Labs, a three-year-old, Brooklyn-based startup that gives companies the latest information on how to apply machine learning and AI to their businesses. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. We can’t dig up any venture backing for Fast Foward Labs (that doesn’t there wasn’t any — just a mention!). More here.


Renowned e-commerce investor Kirsten Green has made Vanity Fair’s international best-dressed list.

Twyla, a startup that collaborates with artists to create exclusive prints for sale at its site, has a new CEO. In June, Brian Sharples — who founded the 10-year-old, vacation rental marketplace HomeAway, acquired in 2015 for a whopping $3.9 billion by Expedia — quietly took the helm of the young company, after its original CEO stepped away. More here.


Dropbox is hiring MBAs. The jobs are in San Francisco.

JPMorgan Chase is looking to add an associate to its strategic investments team. The job is in New York.

Essential Reads

Uber is facing another FBI probe over a program that targeted its rival Lyft.

Inside Juicero’s demise — from prized startup to firesale.

China banned ICOs this week, but in nearby Japan, one company is planning to offer a one-stop-service that would allow companies across the world to take advantage of blockchain technology and IPOs — all without violating financial regulations. TechCrunch explains here.


How to survive a bear encounter.

The “About Us” page of every digital media agency.

Retail Therapy

A 360-degree tour through a $17.75 million penthouse that’s 52 floors above New York.

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