StrictlyVC: September 20, 2017

Hey there, happy Wednesday, all! No column today; not long ago, we finished our fourth and final Hinterview at TechCrunch Disrupt with one of the country’s most sought-after e-commerce investors, Kirsten Green. (More to come on that.)

We separately had an interesting conversation yesterday with YC President Sam Altman, who — and we know this is both good and bad news for VCs — plans to grow YC even bigger. We did ask if he’s stressing YC’s existing alumni network by continuing to pour new startups into the mix; he doesn’t think he is.

Altman also revealed plans to launch a kind of kingmaking experiment next year wherein people who want to make politics their calling yet don’t have enough resources will get a boost from Altman and company. He likened it to the way that YC identifies “talent that the rest of the world is missing” and provides that talent as much help as possible. “We think it’s really important to develop a bench,” he said.

You can check out our on-stage chat here.

Top News of the A.M.

Google is close to acquiring assets from Taiwan’s HTC Corp. in a bid to bolster its nascent hardware business, says Bloomberg.

Sponsored By . . .

StrictlyVC is being brought to you this week by Future Labs AI Summit, a two-day conference comprising trainings, talks, and discussions with leading AI technologists, investors, academics, and entrepreneurs in New York City on October 30 – 31.

From deep dives into key areas animating AI conversations from leading technical experts to introductory courses in machine learning and game theory for AI, the Future Labs AI Summit features offerings for scholars, technologists, and investors alike. Attendees will also get a first look at demos from the second cohort of startups in the AI NexusLab, the accelerator program run by Future Labs, NYU Tandon, and ff Venture Capital. Get tickets here.

New Fundings

Citizen, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based controversial crime tracking app, has raised $12 million in Series A round led by Sequoia Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

ClearMetal, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based predictive logistics company, has raised $9 million in Series A funding led by Prelude Venturesand Innovation Endeavors, with participation from New Enterprise AssociatesSAP.ioPSA Unboxed, and DCLI, among others. The company has now raised $12 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

EquitySim, a year-old, San Francisco-based online simulation-based recruiting platform, has raised $3.1 million in Series A funding led by University Ventures, with participation from Peak Ventures and 500 FinTechMore here.

Gogoro, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based electric scooter maker, has raised $300 million in Series C funding from new backers that include Temasek, the Singaporean sovereign fund, London-based Generation Investment Management, Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation, and energy firm ENGIE from France. TechCrunch has more here.

Hyliion, a two-year-old, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based company focused on adding an intelligent electric drive axle to Class 8 vehicles (the idea is to capture energy when the vehicle brakes), has raised $21 million in Series A funding led by Axioma VenturesMore here.

Mira AR, a two-year-old, L.A.-based mobile augmented reality company that had raised $1.5 million in funding led by Sequoia Capital earlier this year, just added another $1 million in funding from Greylock PartnersFounders Fundand Macro Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

System1, a four-year-old, Venice, Ca.-based marketplace for keyword pay-per-click advertising, has raised $270 million in funding led by Court Square Capital Partners. L.A. Biz has more here.

ThinkCERCA, a five-year-old, Chicago-based software company that aims to teach critical thinking through argumentative writing, has raised $10.1 million in Series B funding from a wide number of investors, including LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, former Match CEO Sam Yagan, and investor Deborah QuazzoMore here.

Tia, a year-old, San Francisco-based startup developing an app that helps serve as a personal, private, women’s health advisor, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from CombineHomebrew and CompoundMore here.

TrustRadius, a five-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based review platform for business technology, has raised $5.5 million in Series B financing led by LiveOak Venture Partners, with participation from MayfieldMore here.


Alibaba-backed, China-based Best went public this morning on the NYSE, rising nearly 14 percent straightaway, despite a launching a pared-down $450 million IPO. CNBC has more here.

Optinose, a Yardley, Pa.-based company that just received FDA approval for its intranasal delivery treatment for nasal polyps, has filed to raise $100 million in an IPO. Its backers include Fidelity Management & Research Co. FierceBiotech has more here.


India’s online payments platform Paytm is reportedly in talks to acquire online travel portal This move hints that the company is now looking to boost its travel business. The Indian Wire has more here.


A principal at Benchmark, Kris Fredrickson, has joined the hedge fund Coatue Management. We suspect this move is less dramatic than has been painted. (For one thing, principals don’t become general partners at Benchmark.)

Lordy. California’s coastal regulator is threatening to fine billionaire VC Vinod Khosla millions of dollars for ignoring a month-old court order to open a popular beach to the public that abuts his property. NBC Bay Area has more here.

Holly Maloney McConnell has joined the venture firm General Catalyst Partners as a managing director, operating out of its Boston office. McConnell, the firm’s first female MD, joins from North Bridge Growth Equity, which rebranded as Guidepost Growth Equity last month. McConnell, who’d spent seven years with the firm, will be focusing on later-stage companies across sectors and geographies for GC. More here.


According to a poll from Deloitte, only 8 percent of companies that are considering going public have completed the move to the new revenue recognition requirements that are needed for public companies beginning in January 2018. MarketWatch has more here.

Essential Reads

Alphabet’s Nest just introduced a new, $499 alarm system.

Airbnb keeps drumming up new ways to generate revenue ahead of an expected IPO; the latest: restaurant reservations.

Alphabet thinks Uber should pay $2.6 billion for allegedly stealing a single trade secret.


The Jimmy Kimmel test.

If Bostonians loved other local institutions the way they love their local sports franchises.

Retail Therapy

A vast chunk of Hawaiian paradise, for $260 million.

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