StrictlyVC: November 1, 2017

November 1, 2017


Happy Wednesday, everyone. We were busy this morning, watching officials from Facebook, Google, and Twitter testify before Congress about Russian activity on their platforms. Notably, none of their CEOs showed up, which wasn’t a great look for the companies. There was also a lot of frustration, unsurprisingly, over the companies’ “unbiased” approach when it comes to dealing with intelligence agencies around the world, despite whether these agencies are friendly to the U.S. or its adversaries. Check out the live feed here. While the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings wrapped up earlier today, the companies are now talking with the House Intelligence Committee.



Top News


Uber‘s effort to close a multibillion-dollar investment by SoftBank is reportedly on the rocks as co-founder Travis Kalanick tussles with fellow board members over the limits of his power at the ride-hailing giant, the WSJ is reporting. More here.


The Russian information troll farm Internet Research Agency spent just 0.05 percent as much on Facebook ads as the combined presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the run-up to last year’s election. TechCrunch has more here.



Sponsored By …


StrictlyVC is sponsored this week by “Intangibles” – a podcast designed to give VCs a different lens with which to look at the founders.  Want to know how curiosity correlates to intelligence and innovation? Listen to the episode where author Ian Leslie talks about people’s need for cognition. The podcast is created and hosted byAntecedent Ventures. Season two is just underway; subscribe on iTunes.




Life is Changing for Men in Two Ways, and New Startups are On It


It’s never been a better time to be a man who privately suffers erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation or hair loss.


Before you roll your eyes, that is a lot of men. They are not the silver-haired septuagenarians depicted in drug advertisements, either. Approximately 25 percentof men with male pattern baldness begin shedding their locks before they reach the age of 21, says the American Hair Loss Association. Another stat that might surprise: According to the Cleveland Clinic, as many as 52 percent of men experience erectile dysfunction, with 40 percent of men age 40 affected. As for premature ejaculation, it may impact upwards of one in three men, estimates the Mayo Clinic.


So why are things looking up for this large yet quietly suffering demographic? Two things: changes to telemedicine laws, and expiring patents, both of which are about to make it a whole lot easier — and cheaper — to obtain pills and other medications that no one seems to want to talk very publicly about.


Let’s take telemedicine first. Thanks to some recently updated telehealth laws, roughly 80 percent of U.S. states now enable companies and health service providers to offer — and receive reimbursement for — telehealth technology that does not rely on, or mandate, in-person visits. This is a big deal given that insurers resisted paying for these services for years after their introduction, arguing it wasn’t clear what qualified as a telehealth visit or whether doctors should submit telehealth claims for every patient phone call, among other concerns.


Many of these insurers have changed their tune owing to rising demand, including in categories where online questionnaires are essentially as effective as face-to-face visits. They also recognize the benefits of seeing their rural members access services that might be hard to reach otherwise. In fact, in the last year, every state but Connecticut and Massachusetts has made substantive legal changes to how telehealth services are delivered, including, in many cases, making it possible to receive a prescription by answering a short online survey.


It’s a powerful shift, especially combined with expiring patents. Why, exactly? Because drugs fall in price — 60 percent, routinely — when a drug that was once sold exclusively by the firm that developed it, is sold in a generic form after the patent for that branded drug expires. That’s what’s about to happen to Pfizer, whose patent on Viagra doesn’t expire until 2020 but which struck a deal a few years ago with generic drugmaker Teva Pharmaceuticals that allows Teva to launch a copycat version of the popular erectile dysfunction drug on December 11 — less than two months from now.


The opportunity creating by these two trends is not lost on startup founders — or investors.


More here.



New Fundings


AppZen, a five-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based maker of back-office automation software, has raised $13 million in Series A funding led by Redpoint Ventures, with participation from seed investor Resolute Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


BigPanda, a five-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based company that correlates IT alerts from fragmented clouds, applications, and infrastructure so IT teams can better manage them, has raised an additional $23 million in funding that brings a Series B round that had closed earlier to $49 million altogether. Greenfield Partners, a partnership backed by TPG Growth, is leading the newest round, with participation from earlier backers Sequoia CapitalBattery Ventures andMayfieldMore here.


Ceres Imaging, a three-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based company at work on a technology that helps farmers conserve water and fertilizer and improve yields in their crops, has added $2.5 million in fresh funding to a previously closed $5 million Series A round. The capital comes from Romulus Capital, which led the startup’s previous bout of funding. TechCrunch has more here.


Cinématique, a five-year-old, New York-based “touchable” video platform that enables users to tap or click on different items to learn more, has raised $1.4 million in new funding led by Pumori Group. The company has now raised $6.8 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


Harry’s, a five-year-old, New York-based subscription service for shaving products, is raising $37.6 million in fresh funding, according to an SEC filing that was first flagged by Axios and shows the firm has already secured at least $27 million toward that end. The company’s current backers include Wellington ManagementTiger Global ManagementHighland CapitalHarrison MetalLight Street Capital Management and BullishMore here.


Hims, a months-old, San Francisco-based startup that’s creating a wellness e-commerce brand for men starting with kits aimed at preventing hair loss (and containing shampoos, prescription pills, and other products), has raised $7 million in Series A funding from Thrive Capital and Forerunner Ventures, among others.More here.


InVision, a six-year-old, New York-based product design platform that enables users to prototype, refine, manage, and test web and mobile products, has raised $100 million in Series E funding led by Battery Ventures. Other participants in the round include Spark CapitalGeodesic, and earlier backers Accel PartnersTiger Global ManagementFirstmark Capital and ICONIQ Capital. TechCrunch hasmore here.


MariaDB, an eight-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca-based open source database company started by the founders of MySQL, has raised $27 million in Series C funding led byAlibaba Group, with participation from earlier investors Intel CapitalCalifornia Technology VenturesTesiSmartFin Capital and Open Ocean. The company has now raised $54 million altogether. More here.


Markforged, a four-year-old, Watertown, Ma.-based 3D printing platform that specializes in printing carbon fiber and metals, has raised $30 million in Series C funding from Microsoft VenturesPorsche, and the Siemens-backed, year-old venture unit next47. The company has now raised $57 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


Quip, a three-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based maker of electric toothbrushes with an attached subscription business (it sends out replacement heads and toothpaste), has raised $10 million in fresh funding from Sherpa Capital and other unnamed investors. The company has raised $12 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


Reali, a two-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based app-enabled real estate company, has added $3 million to a previously closed Series A financing that brings the round total to $9 million. Investos inculde Zeev Ventures and Signia Venture PartnersMore here.



Sponsored By . . .



Are you an accredited investor looking for new investment opportunities? If so, you might check out Angel Capital Expo. More than 300 angel investors and founders are already registered to come to see 16 highly vetted companies. You won’t want to miss them, either. It all takes place Thursday, Nov 16. from 8am -5pm in San Francisco. Tickets are regularly priced at $150, but we’re offering 15 percent off to StrictlyVC readers who apply the promo code StrictlyVC). Register today.



New Funds


Alsop Louie Partners, an 11-year-old, San Francisco-based early-stage venture firm, is raising up to $125 million for its fourth fund, shows an SEC filingMore here.


AOL cofounder Steve Case and the team at Rise of the Rest are raising $100 million for a new seed fund, show an SEC filing. VentureBeat has more here.


Frazier Healthcare Partners, the 26-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based health care focused venture firm, has closed its newest fund with $419 million in capital commitments, reports FierceBiotech. More here.


Vertical Venture Partners, which closed on at least $40 million for its debut fund in 2014 and that targets early-stage enterprise startups coming out of the UC San Diego in particular, is looking to raise up to $80 million for its second effort, shows an SEC filingMore here.


The Israel-based venture firm Carmel Ventures is changing its name to Viola Ventures and announcing a new $200 million fund. VentureBeat has more here.






Borrowed & Blue, a six-year-old, Charlottesville, Va.-based online vendor marketplace that had raised $10 million from investors, including Foundry Group, was abruptly shuttered after the board discovered the startup’s married co-founders, Adam and Christin Healey, had misappropriated funds. CBS News hasmore here (H/T: Axios)


Doppler Labs, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based smart earbud company that raised more than $50 million in funding from backers like Universal MusicLive Nation and the Chernin Group, has shut down after running out of cash and options. The company posted a farewell note to customers on its site this morning. TechCrunch has more here. Wired also has an in-depth report on what went wrong.





Sayfullo Saipov — the 29-year-old believed to have intentionally driven a pick-up truck onto a popular bike path in Lower Manhattan yesterday, killing eight people and injuring at least 10 others — was a driver for Uber.





Hearst Ventures is hiring a senior associate for its U.S. investments team.  The position is in New York City.



Essential Reads


Bancor, one of the most successful initial coin offerings in the short history of digital tokens, is proving to be a dud for investors. Bloomberg has more here.





Warner Bros. is reviewing sexual harassment and assault allegations against Brett Ratner, a director and producer whose company has co-financed many of the studio’s biggest hits over the past few years. Bloomberg has more here.


Sixteen things to do in New York over the holidays.


Think you’re middle-class? This calculator will tell you.



Retail Therapy


Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber, up for auction at Bonhams.


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