StrictlyVC: October 17, 2017

Happy Tuesday, all.:) No column today.

Top News in the A.M.

SoftBank — the Japanese conglomerate that is already upending Silicon Valley finance with its existing $93 billion Vision Fund — is in early planning discussions to raise a second and possibly larger fund, multiple sources tell Recode. As crazy as that sounds, it isn’t surprising. As of a couple of weeks ago, the firm had already committed $20 billion to startups — and that doesn’t include whatever it eventually works out with Uber. As investor Jeff Bussbang of Flybridge Ventures told us a couple of weeks ago, for a story about Softbank’s overarching strategy, “What people don’t appreciate is that this is just the beginning. [Softbank founder Masayoshi] Son is providing a way for sovereign wealth funds to invest $2 billion at a time into an asset class they can’t otherwise access.” In fact, he’d said to expect Softbank to raise another $100 billion fund sooner than later.

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New Fundings

Allset, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based restaurant reservation app that allows users to order food and pay for their meals, too, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Greycroft Partners. Other participants in the round include Andreessen HorowitzVaizra InvestmentsCompoundFJ Labs, and SMRK VC Fund. TechCrunch has more here.

Backplane, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that helps companies manage their software deployments, has raised $5 million in seed funding led by Baseline Ventures, with participation from Harrison Metal. Fortune has more here.

BankBazaar, a nine-year-old, Chennai, India-based credit marketplace, has raised $30 million in fresh funding led by Experian, the London-headquartered credit giant (with an $18 billion market cap). TechCrunch has more here.

BridgeU, a four-year-old, London-based maker of university prep and career guidance software, has raised £4 million ($5.3 million) in Series A funding led by Octopus Ventures, with participation fromDowning Ventures and earlier investor Fresco Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Connexin, an 11-year-old, Cambridge, England-based company that says it has built multiple carrier-grade metropolitan networks in its history, has raised $13.2 million in funding led by Digital Alpha Advisors, with participation from Cisco Systems.

Digital Asset Holdings, a 2.5.-year-old, New York-based developer of blockchain software for the financial sector (it’s run by former JPMorgan Chase executive Blythe Masters), has raised more than $40 million in Series B funding led by Jefferson River Capital. The Financial Times has more here.

Fluent City, a six-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based online language school, has raised $3 million in new funding led by Lerner Enterprises, with participation from New Ground VenturesZG Ventures, and WorldQuant Ventures. The company has now raised $5.5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

LevelTen Energy, a 1.5-year-old, Seattle-based two-sided market that connects electricity sellers and buyers, has raised $6.8 million in Series A funding, including from Prelude VenturesTechstars Venture Capital FundFounders’ CoopWireframe VenturesElement 8 Fund and Avista Development. GeekWire has more here.

Militus, a 1.5-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based maker of cybersecurity software, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding from CyberSEC3, a Florida-based private equity firm. More here.

Mission Bio, a three-year-old, South San Francisco-based developer of single-cell DNA analysis, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by MayfieldMore here.

Pick-Up, a 10-month-old, Hong Kong-based startup that operates a four-hour, door-to-door delivery platform, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Axis Capital PartnersMetroworks EquitySage 42 Apps and Shanghai Bestway Enterprise Development CompanyMore here.

Pluto TV, a four-year-old, L.A.-based free online television service that broadcasts more than 100 live channels, has raised $5 million from Samsung Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Snaps, a two-year-old, New York-based conversational marketing platform for brands, has raised $6 million in additional Series A funding from Signal Peak VenturesMore here.

Spotahome, a three-year-old, Spain-based startup that lets users view and book mid to long-term accommodation online, has raised €13.6 million ($16 million) in Series A funding. Investors includePassion CapitalSeaya VenturesHowzat Partners, and Samaipata Ventures, among others. TechCrunch has more here.

Vacasa, an eight-year-old, Portland, Ore.-based vacation rental management company, has raised a hefty $103.5 million in Series B funding. Riverwood Capital led the round; other participants included Level EquityAssurant Growth Investing, and NewSpring. GeekWire has more here.

New Funds

Last year, Illumina — the world’s largest maker of DNA sequencing machines — committed $100 million to start a genomics-focused venture capital fund. Now, Illumina Ventures has locked down another $130 million in capital commitments from a range of corporate, sovereign, institutional, and individual investors, bringing the fund’s total to $230 million. The outfit invests in companies working on new ways to use nucleic acid sequencing and to use genomics to better human health. FierceBiotech has more here.

Next Frontier Capital, a two-year-old, Bozeman, Mt.-based early-stage venture firm, has announced the first close of its second fund with $22 million in capital commitments. The firm, which is targeting upwards of $30 million altogether, had raised $21.5 million for its debut fund, founder Will Price, tells us. More here.

Serial entrepreneur Rick Marini has launched an outfit called Protocol Ventures, which may be the first-ever fund-of-funds for cryptocurrencies. Marini plans to invest what he raises in roughly ten cryptocurrency hedge funds with diverse profiles, strategies, and sizes, reports Axios, which says he’s targeting $100 million in capital commitments. More here.

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ForeScout Technologies, a 17-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based company that provides enterprise security software for network access control, announced terms for its IPO yesterday, revealing plans to raise $101 million by offering 4.8 million shares at a price range of $20 to $22. At the midpoint of the proposed range, ForeScout would command a fully diluted market value of $942 million — close to the $1 billion private valuation it was assigned in January 2016. Nasdaq has more here.

Baidu’s iQiyi, a Netflix style video streaming service in China, has selected Bank of America, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs to help arrange a U.S. IPO worth about $1 billion, the IFR reported yesterday, citing people familiar with the plans. The offering could come as soon as the first half of 2018, added IFR, via Reuters.

JBS SA has pulled a planned $500 million IPO of its processed food subsidiary, JBS Foods International BV, almost six months after a spree of corruption and food safety scandals in Brazil hurt investor demand for the deal. CNBC has more here.

MongoDB, the 10-year-old, New York-based open source database system, has increased its proposed IPO price range from $18-$20 per share to $20-$22 per share. It still plans to offer 8 million shares. Seeking Alpha has more here.


Device maker Boston Scientific has acquired Apama Medical, a Campbell, Ca.-based developer of a radiofrequency balloon catheter for the treatment of atrial fibrillation. Boston Scientific is paying $175 million in cash up front, with another $125 million contigent on Apama meeting certain milestones. According to Crunchbase, Apama had raised $43 million in equity and debt, including from Silicon Valley Bank. Fierce Biotech has more here.

Facebook announced yesterday that it’s acquiring the positivity-focused polling startup tbh (short for “to be honest”), and will allow it to operate somewhat independently with its own brand. Price isn’t being disclosed, but TechCrunch sources say the company fetched less than $100 million and won’t require regulatory approval. tbh had raised an undisclosed amount of funding, including from Bee Partners, in 2013. More here.


Warby Parker is being accused of signing partnership contracts and NDAs with online eyeglass prescription test startup Opternative, then stealing the technology to launch its own competing “Prescription Check” feature. That’s according to a legal complaint filed last month by Opternative that was unsealed today as the lawsuit unfolds. TechCrunch has the story here.


Scott Barclay has been named a partner at Data Collective, which he joined in 2015 as an operating partner. Just prior, Barclay had served as chief product officer of Surescripts, an e-prescription network based in Arlington, Va.

Emil Michael, the former top Uber executive who was ousted by the company’s board earlier this year, has filed a motion to have a problematic lawsuit related to a rape incident in India dismissed. This is Michael’s first public comment on the case, which has attracted a lot of controversy, and essentially his attempt to clear his name. Recode has more here.

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel was married in Vienna this past weekend, Axios reports. Guests came expecting to celebrate Thiel’s 50th birthday, but instead were surprised by his wedding to longtime boyfriend, Matt Danzeisen. (A little) more here.

Longtime VC Fred Wilson said this past weekend that he and his wife have poured 5 percent of their net worth into crypto assets, which he characterizes as “likely at the high end of what the average person should have” but “not a ridiculous number for the average person to have.” Bloomberg has more here.


SenaHill Partners, a fintech-focused merchant bank, is looking to bring aboard a financial analyst with at least one year’s work experience to join its investment banking group. The job is in New York. If interested, please submit your resume and cover letter to


VC firms are investing in crypto hedge funds, ICOs, and tokens directly. According to data culled by Fortune, VC firms are on track to close 77 traditional deals with blockchain startups by the end of this year. Last year, they closed 57. More here.

Essential Reads

Wag, the so-called Uber for dog-walking, is reportedly being criticized for losing dogs and fighting with customers — spooking potential investors in the process. Bloomberg has more here.

Apple apparently explored buying a medical-clinic start-up as part of a bigger push into health care. CNBC has more here.


A Canadian man rescued from a Taliban-linked group in Afghanistan last week said he thought his captors were joking when they told him Donald Trump had been elected president of the United States.

Retail Therapy

The Populele.

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