StrictlyVC: November 30, 2017

November 30, 2017


Happy Thursday from SFO, where we just went through security — twice! (Don’t ask.) We have a super abbreviated newsletter for you today but more soon!



Top News


Google is reportedly considering folding home-automation unit Nest Labs into its hardware team, says the WSJ, reversing a major element of Google’s split two years ago into various businesses under holding company Alphabet. More here.




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Europe’s Tech Game Gets Stronger 


Atomico, the 11-year-old European venture firm, has released the third edition of its State of European Tech report in an effort to shine a light on what’s happening in Europe, and it’s full of interesting data, beginning with the fact that 2017 has been a record year for Europe, with more than $19 billion invested in regional startups, a huge jump from last year, when $14. 5 billion was invested.


Apparently, 2017 is also proving a record year for giant rounds of $50 million or more, with more than 50 sewn up so far this year, which beat the previous all-time high of 43 in 2015 (and, hey, it’s still November).


And Europe has been minting unicorns. In fact, seven European companies founded since 2003 joined the billion dollar club this year, which brings the continent’s total to 41.


Some of the newest entrants include publicly traded Purple Bricks in the U.K., which is an online marketplace for real estate agents; the Finnish mobile games studio Rovio, which went public earlier this year; and Slovenia-based Outfit7, which develops mobile apps and games for the iOS and Android platforms and was reportedly acquired this year by a Chinese chemical firm for $1 billion.


Authored by Atomico partner Tom Wehmeier, who is also Atomico’s head of research, the report’s findings come in large part from 3,500 founders and investors who were surveyed for the effort.


It also incorporates data from a number of partners, including LinkedIn, StackOverflow and Dealroom to draw its conclusions. They’re worth reading if you’re trying to get a handle on what’s happening overseas, even while the upshots are slightly rosy sounding.


The study points, for example, to strong international interest in Europe from global investors, noting that more than 200 U.S. funds have done at least one deal in Europe this year — more than double the number in 2012.


Sequoia Capital is among these, having recently led a $50 million investment in Graphcore, a Bristol, England-based semiconductor company that develops accelerators for AI and machine learning. Accel Partners in Silicon Valley also made a related bet, on MessageBird, a competitor to Twilio in Amsterdam. Other examples of U.S firms diving into European startups include Obvious Ventures’ recent investment in the Bayern, Germany-based jet company Lilium Aviation.


Atomico separately reports that European venture fund sizes are getting bigger.


More here.



New Fundings


Akouos, a 1.5-year-old, Boston, Ma.-based biotechnology company focused on restoring and preserving hearing, has raised $7.5 million in seed funding led by5AM Ventures and New Enterprise Associates led the round, and was joined by investors including Partners Innovation Fund. More on the company here and more on companies trying to treat hearing loss with medicine here.


electroCore, a 12-year-old, Basking Ridge, N.J.-based bioelectronic medicine company that’s right now commercializing its headache product, has raised $70 million in Series B funding, including from the venture wing of Merck, which had co-led the company’s Series A round. Other participants include Core Ventures,Gakasa, and investment vehicles associated with former Fidelity Magellan Fund manager Jeffrey Vinik. FierceBiotech has more here.


Farmers Business Network, a three-year-old, San Carlos, Ca.-based social network and e-commerce network farmers that invites them to share their data, pool their know-how, and bargain more effectively for better pricing from third parties, has raised $110 million in Series D funding led by T.Rowe Price and Temasek. Earlier investors GV, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Campbell Soup’s Acre Fund also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to roughly $200 million. We have much more on the company here.


Fractyl Labs, a seven-year-old, Lexington, Ma.-based startup developing treatments for diabetes, has raised $44 million in Series D financing from a slew of VC firms, including GVTrue Ventures, the IDO FundGeneral Catalyst,Bessemer Venture PartnersDomain AssociatesMithril Capital ManagementEmergent Medical Partners, and Deerfield Management Company, TechCrunch has more here.


HeartFlow, a seven-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company whose medical device helps doctors detect coronary artery disease, is raising $150 million in new funding, according to a new regulatory filing in Delaware uncovered by PitchBook. At a price of about $25.33 per share, HeartFlow will have a valuation of $1.4 billion. The company didn’t respond to questions from Recode about its newest backers, but earlier investors include U.S. Venture PartnersGE Ventures and the venture fund of insurer Blue Cross Blue ShieldMore here.


Replika, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based consumer AI that enables people to build a digital friend, has raised $6.5 million in Series A2 funding, including Khosla VenturesSherpa CapitalPhil Libin, and Richard SocherMore here.


Semma Therapeutics, a two-year-old,  Cambridge, Ma.-based biotechnology company focused on the development of novel regenerative medicines, raised $114 million in Series B funding. Eight Roads Ventures and Cowen Healthcare Investments co-led the round, and was joined by MPM Capital, F-Prime Capital PartnersARCH Venture PartnersNovartisMedtronic,  JDRF T1D FundORI Healthcare FundWu Capital6 Dimensions Capital and SinoPharm Capital. (Whew.) Business Insider has more here.


Uptake, a three-year-old, Chicago-based SaaS startup that uses machine learning to read and understand how machines are working, and also anticipate when they may break down or need other attention, has closed a Series D round of $117 million at a post-money valuation of $2.3 billion. Baillie Gifford led the round, with participation also from earlier investors Revolution Growth and GreatPoint Ventures. The company, founded by serial entrepreneur Brad Keywell, has now raised more than $250 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.





A favorite food stub at tech startups is worth a whole lot of money, according toMars Inc., which just acquired a minority stake in Kind, the maker of those ubiquitous snack bars, at a valuation of more than $4 billion. Dealbook has more here.





Meet the man who deactivated Trump’s Twitter account.


The 50 people who defined global business this year.





Honor, the venture-backed in-home care startup, is looking to hire a VP of business development. The job is in San Francisco.



Essential Reads


The U.S. tax authority is starting to get savvy to this whole bitcoin thing. On Wednesday, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that Coinbase must supply the IRS with identifying information on users who had more than $20,000 in annual transactions on its platform between 2013 and 2015. TechCrunch has more here.


A deep dive into the low-profile, high-stakes world of venture lending.


An FDA-approved Apple Watch band can tell you if your heart isn’t working properly.





Matt Lauer has apologized for being a dirtbag.



Retail Therapy


The new 2018 Panamera Hybrid Sport Turismo hatchback. Sigh.



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