StrictlyVC: October 30, 2017

October 30, 2017


Hi and happy Monday, all.:)


What a day in Washington(!). Makes us wish we covered politics, too. (In the meantime, we’re giggling at this and this.)


Top News


Wow. Netflix just pulled the plug on “House of Cards” following claims by an actor that the show’s star, Kevin Spacey, propositioned him years ago when he was 14 years old. Netflix is reportedly thinking of killing off another Spacey vehicle, about author Gore Vidal, too. Spacey had apologized last night when the allegations first surfaced. Deadline Hollywood has the story here.


Coursera, the online education company that has raised more than $200 million in venture capital, has quietly ousted several top-level executives, including the chief marketing and financial officers, according to Recode. More here.



Sponsored By …


StrictlyVC is sponsored this week by “Intangibles” – a podcast about the traits, behaviors, and qualities that entrepreneurs can cultivate to help be successful.  Authors, artists, behavioral psychologists, and academicians dive deep into topics such as strategic thinking, curiosity, creativity, and willpower.  The podcast is created and hosted by Antecedent VenturesSubscribe on iTunes.



Former Media Honcho Edgar Bronfman Jr. is forming a venture fund to target media investments


Former media chief Edgar Bronfman Jr. is starting a venture firm called Waverley Capital with longtime investor Daniel Leff, reports Bloomberg, which says the two are looking to raise up to $100 million. The idea: to target media investments.


Media companies are an abiding passion for Bronfman Jr., the former head of Warner Music. He led Seagram, the liquor business built by his grandfather, Samuel, into the entertainment industry — and eventually an ill-fated acquisition in 2000 by France’s Vivendi. Seagram owned Universal Studios and Universal Music Group at the time and sold for $32 billion in an all-stock deal, but Vivendi’s fortune’s abruptly turned, dragged down by the bubble’s burst and one too many acquisitions (including the TV and film company Canal Plus and the educational publisher Houghton Mifflin).


In fact, despite the well-documented revenue struggles of streaming services like Pandora and Spotify, Bronfman Jr. — who left Warner in 2012 after selling the unit to billionaire Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries — told CNBC earlier this year that he thinks “music is probably as compelling a content story as there is right now.”


Said Bronfman Jr., “I think ultimately, music is better off under a streaming or subscription model than it was, even in the ‘80s and ‘90s when it was selling albums” because “more people will be buying music” even if it’s “less people than the fanatics who were buying albums.”  At the end of the day, he’d added, “it broadens [music’s] distribution base.”


More here.



New Fundings


Beam Dental, a five-year-old, Columbus, Oh.-based dental benefits company for small and medium-size businesses, has raised $5.5 million in Series B funding led by Lewis & Clark Ventures, with participation from earlier investor Drive Capital.More here.


Common, a two-year-old, New York-based co-living company that currently manages 482 million rooms across a variety of cities, has raised $15 million in funding from Harriman Capital, a new real estate private equity firm. The capital will be used expressly to develop four new co-living properties in New York and L.A. Common had previously raised roughly $23 million over two rounds of funding. Real Estate Weekly has more here.


EdGE Networks, a four-year-old, Bengaluru, India-based AI-driven HR software company, has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding led by Kalaari Capital andVentureast. DealStreetAsia has more here.


Farmobile, a four-year-old, Overland Park, Ks.-based farm data company, has raised $18.1 million in Series B funding from Anterra Capital and AmTrust Agricultural Insurance Services, along with earlier investors. More here.


New Tranx., a three-year-old, Beijing, China-based AI-powered translation startup, has raised $7.5 million in “pre-A” funding from Kaitai Capital and Bojiang Capital Management Group. China Money Network has more here.


TELA Bio, a five-year-old, Malvern, Pa.-based company that develops surgical scaffolds for abdominal surgeries, has raised $25 million in funding from publicly traded Pacira Pharmaceuticals, as well as from earlier backers OrbiMedQuaker Partners and Signet Healthcare PartnersMore here.


Wonder Workshop, a five-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based company whose robots aim to teach kids of all ages creative problem solving, coding, and robotics, has raised $41 million in Series C funding from a long list of investors. Among them areTencent HoldingsTAL Education GroupMindWorks VenturesMadrona Venture GroupSoftbank Korea, and VTRON Group, as well as earlier backersTCL CapitalSinovation VenturesBright SuccessWI Harper, and CRV.



New Funds


Creative Labs, a Vancouver media and entertainment venture studio, has started operations in partnership with Hollywood talent agency Creative Artists Agency, says Variety. The incubator is backed by funding of about $12.5 million. More here.



Sponsored By . . .


Angel Capital Expo is bringing together investors and entrepreneurs looking for funding. Hosted by Keiretsu Forum, the largest angel investing network in the world, the Expo will showcase 16 presenting early stage companies. The Keiretsu Forum angel investors have screened and hand-picked the presenting companies. If you want to connect with like-minded investors or find high-quality investment opportunities join us on November 16. Register today before prices increase. Apply promo code: StrictlyVC for 15% off.





Bandwidth, an 18-year-old, Raleigh, N.C.-based API software company that provides text and voice functionality to enterprises, revealed in an updated SEC filing that it plans to raise $84 million via an offering of 4 million shares priced between $20 to $22 a piece. The company’s biggest outside investors includeCarmichael Investment. More here.


Cardlytics, a nine-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based marketing analytics company, has filed confidentially for an IPO, says TechCrunch, which adds that it filed last year and has been trying to improve its bottom line in the meantime. According to Crunchbase, Cardlytics has raised $202 million in funding to date, including fromPolaris PartnersCanaan PartnersDiscovery CapitalTTV Capital, ITC HoldingsTotal Technology Ventures and Kinetic VenturesMore here.


Sogou, a Beijing, China-based search engine, said it plans to raise $540 million in an offering of 45 million shares between $11 to $13 a piece. Sohu and Tencentown most of the company, with respective stakes of  37.8 percent and 43.7 percent. Bloomberg has more here.





Teforia, essentially the Juicero of tea, has shut down. At least it didn’t raise as much as the pricey juice maker, collecting $17 million from investors, versus Juicero, which had raised roughly $118 million. TechCrunch has more here.





Vikram Bajaj, the former co-founder of Google life sciences startup Verily and chief scientific officer of cancer biotech company Grail, has joined the health care-focused investment firm Foresite Capital as a managing director. Axios has more here.


Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is again the world’s richest person — for now.


The engineer who let his daughter show off an iPhone X on YouTube has been firedby Apple.





There are reportedly now more than 120 cryptocurrency hedge funds(!).


The iPhone 8 launch has fueled growth for Apple in China after 18 months of declining sales. More here.



Essential Reads


Square is expanding its hardware lineup with a new, $999 point-of-sale device called the Square Register.





Jean-Georges, inside the Trump International Hotel, just lost a Michelin star.


The Haunted Apartment.



Retail Therapy


Samuel Adams is trying to kill us all.


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