StrictlyVC: November 6, 2017

November 6, 2017


Hi, happy Monday, all! Hope you had a wonderful weekend. We’re just back at our hotel in Lisbon for a pit stop after a couple of on-stage interviews that we hope to write up for you shortly. More soon.:)



Top News


More on that potential biggest-takeover-ever-of-a-chipmaker ever: Broadcom has reportedly offered about $105 billion for Qualcomm. Bloomberg has more here.


Softbank is losing its patience with Uber, it signaled today on a quarterly earnings briefing today, when it floated the idea that it just might invest in Lyft after all.



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Tech’s Favorite Royal Has Been Arrested in Saudi Arabia


In a move sure to shock the business world, Saudi Arabia announced the arrest of at least eleven princes on Saturday night, including renowned billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, as part of a sweeping corruption investigation.


Prince Alwaleed controls the investment firm Kingdom Holding and is one of the world’s richest men, owning or having owned meaningful positions in satellite TV networks, as well as in News Corp. (a stake it has since mostly sold), Citigroup (shares of which it has owned since 1991), and a growing number of tech companies.


The prince and Kingdom Holding, of which he owns 95 percent, first invested $300 million in Twitter in 2011, two years before the company went public. In 2015, he invested another $50 million to increase his ownership in Twitter and, as of last year, remained one of the company’s largest shareholders.


In 2013, Kingdom also acquired 2.5 percent of China-based retailer JD.Com, which went public on the Nasdaq the following year and whose shares have roughly doubled since.


Prince Alwaleed and Kingdom further acquired a stake in the car-hailing company Lyft early last year, buying some of the shares of its earlier investors Andreessen Horowitz and Founders Fund.


The prince and other members of his investment company announced in March 2015 that they’d sat down with Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and the company’s chief strategy officer, Imran Khan, about a possible investment in Snap, though several months later, a source close to the prince said Kingdom had no plans to invest.


Price Alwaleed first began investing in tech in the late ’90s and has owned shares of both Apple and Ebay for more than 15 years.


According to the New York Times, the arrests appear to be a move to consolidate the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a son and the top adviser of King Salman, who had announced the creation of a new anti-corruption committee — headed by the crown prince —  just hours before the arrests were ordered.


According to the Times, the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh was subsequently evacuated, possibly to house the arrested royals, and the airport for private planes shuttered, presumably to stop anyone from fleeing the country.


More here.



New Fundings


Annoroad, a five-year-old, Beijing, China-based next-generation sequencing company, has raised $105 million in Series C funding led by Ping An Ventures and the Shenzhen GTJA Investment Group, with additional money coming fromSoftBank China Venture CapitalMore here.


Aquam, a San Diego, Ca.-based company that helps water and energy companies better understand and assess their pipes and other assets, has raised $26 million in funding from NewWorld Capital Group, with participation from a Credit Suisse advised fund. More here.


Auto1 Group, a five-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based online used car marketplace that raised $404 million in debt and equity financing earlier this year, is reportedly in talks with Softbank‘s Vision Fund team about an investment. It would SoftBank’s first major deal in Germany, says DealStreetAsia. More here.


CloudSense, an eight-year-old, London-based startup that aims to bring together customers and companies on one commerce platform that’s built on Salesforce, has raised $77 million in growth funding from Vector CapitalMore here.


Kaodim, a three-year-old, Malaysia-based service for booking a range of services that include cleaning, moving, gas delivery, appliance care, and even photography, has raised $7 million  led by Square Peg Capital, with participation from 500 StartupsVenturra CapitalEast Ventures and KK Fund. The company has now raised $11.5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


LogDNA, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based cloud-based log management system that aggregates application logs in a single platform, has raised $7 million in Series A financing led by earlier investor Initialized Capital, which partly provided the company with $1.3 million in seed funding last year. has more here.


MetricStream, an 19-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based maker of governance, risk and compliance applications and software, has raised $65 million in funding led byClearlake Capital Group, with participation from EDBI and earlier backersGoldman SachsSageview Capital, and others. More here.


Pienso, a 1.5-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y.-based startup aiming to democratize machine learning and make it accessible to people with no prior background in either advanced statistics or machine learning, has raised $2.1 million in seed funding.Eniac Ventures led the round, with participation from SoftTech VCIndicator Ventures and E14 FundMore here.


QLess, a 10-year-old, Pasadena, Ca.-based maker of mobile customer queue software that aims to do away with on-hold wait times, has raised $5.5 million in funding from Palisades Growth Capital and Act One Ventures, with participation from earlier investors. More here.



New Funds


The 10-year-old,  European venture capital firm Sunstone Technology Ventures, has closed two new funds totalling €160 million ($185.3 million) in committed capital. More here.





Another U.K.-based car-buying startup looks to be shutting down. According to TechCrunch, London-based Hellocar is closing its doors, not so long after Rocket Internet pulled the plug on a competitor called Carspring. Hellocar, founded last year, looks to have raised just $1 million in seed funding. More here.





Eleven IPOs are scheduled to raise $2 billion in the coming week. Renaissance Capital has the rundown here.





William Dudley, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York since 2009, will retire from his position in mid-2018, the bank announced today. Whoever fills the role is expected to be a “key bulwark against Wall Street misbehavior as the Trump administration moves to loosen regulatory oversight of banks,” notes the New York Times.


Yuri Milner, the Russian billionaire investor who is widely respected in Silicon Valley for his big, bold bets on Facebook, is now being connected with the Kremlin, which reportedly invested in the powerful social media platform  (and Twitter, too) through shell companies that funded Milner’s efforts. More here.





Unity Technologies, whose software reportedly powers half of all new mobile games, is looking to hire a corporate development analyst. The job is in San Francisco.





According to a new survey, roughly 60 percent of people who have Amazon Prime definitely would not buy Amazon Key, a new service with hardware that allows couriers into customers’ homes. Recode has more here.


Apple has revealed that “face with tears of joy” is the most popular emoji among English speakers in the United States, followed closely by a red heart, loudly crying face, heart eyes face, face throwing a kiss, face with rolling eyes, skull, smiling face with smiling eyes, weary face, and thinking face. (Hey, someone out there cares about these things.) More here.



Essential Reads


Softbank’s Masayoshi Son just can’t quit Sprint. The WSJ has inside story of how theSprint and T-mobile deal collapsed, again.


Despite months of talk about combatting the fraud facing Facebook and other tech companies, their sites remain infected by obvious counterfeits. The New York Times has more here.


Startup workers are expected to get some tax relief on their paper wealth if a House Republican tax bill goes through as planned. Bloomberg has more here.


Oh. No. WeWork is launching a grade school for “conscious entrepreneurship.”





Kids, would you please start fighting?


Inside the RVs of Silicon Valley.


How renting parking spaces can make you rich.



Retail Therapy


Forty-one cocktails you’ll want this fall.


These vaunted pastries are also delicious.


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