StrictlyVC: December 4, 2017

December 4, 2017


Hi, happy Monday, everyone. We’re just left TechCrunch Disrupt a bit ago, where we finished up a couple of panel discussions earlier today despite only sleeping four hours over the last three days. (Our brain is an unwilling participant in changing time zones this time around.) Thankfully, we had very stimulating panelists in both sessions — one of which centered around the various adventures in fundraising that three European founders have had (Ana Izquierdo of Barcelona-based Talent Clue, Alicia Navarro of London-based SkimLinks, and Johannes Reck of Berlin-based GetYourGuide). You can check that out here if you’d like to hear about the differing expectations of U.S. versus European VCs.


We also had a fun sit-down with Andy McLoughlin of Uncork Capital, Thomas Korte of AngelPad, and Timo Rein of the Pipedrive concerning the various considerations European founders need weigh when it comes to scaling internationally — and into the U.S. in particular.


And now for a bite and a stiff cocktail (it’s okay; it’s nearly 8 pm here). We’ll have much more for you tomorrow..:)



Top News


Steel yourselves, parents. Facebook just launched “Messenger Kids.”



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Early Uber Advisor Bradley Tusk is Cashing Out – – and Finding Other Battles to Fight 


Bradley Tusk has long been known in political circles, including for managing the third campaign of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. He went on to make his mark in Silicon Valley by answering a call six years ago from former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who recognized he’d have regulatory battles to wage and enlisted Tusk as Uber’s first outside consultant to aid in navigating them.


Fast forward and Tusk, who’d accepted his Uber pay in equity and today oversees both a political strategy firm as well as a venture fund, tells us that he’s cashing out his shares as part of the new investment being made by a SoftBank-led consortium of investors who are buying both primary and secondary shares.


It’s time, he says. “We’ll see where it lands, but I’ve been in this thing forever, and it’s hard to see Uber [go public] for more than 1.5 x at where this lands. It would be an historic IPO, but you’re looking at two-years, plus a [standard] six-month lock-up [post IPO]. Can I do better than 1.5x in my other [investments]? Probably so.”


While Tusk hasn’t worked with Uber in some time, he’s still involved in plenty of regulatory clashes on behalf of other clients. We chatted with last week to find out which battles he expects to be fighting in 2018.


Some of the issues he envisions getting involved in include:


Dockless bike sharing. “I think it’ll blow up,” says Tusk, and he isn’t using the word to suggest explosive growth, either. “Where the streets are crowded and you already have significant homeless populations, piling up bikes on the ground isn’t going to work. I do think you’ll see regulations enforced against it. It’s hard to see how it becomes ‘natural’ in really dense cities in the U.S. (Worth noting: Tusk is an investor in Bird, a Santa Monica, Ca.-based scooter-share company whose CEO, Travis VanderZanden, worked previously as Uber’s vice president of driver growth.)


E-sports betting. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing Christie et al vs NCAA et al, the crux of which is whether the state of New Jersey can legalize sports betting in its state, despite a 1992 federal law that banned sports betting everywhere in the U.S. except Nevada. As Yahoo Finance reported recently, no matter the outcome, the gaming industry is optimistic that change is coming soon to America’s stringent gambling laws, including because President Trump is a former casino owner.


More here.



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New Fundings, the non-profit organization that aims to increase access to computer science education, has raised $12 million in philanthropic funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Infosys Foundation USA  and PricewaterhouseCoopers. TechCrunch has more here.


Contentful, a six-year-old, Berlin-based content management developer platform, has raised $28 million in Series C funding led by General Catalyst, with participation from earlier backers Benchmark CapitalBalderton Capital, andPoint Nine Capital. The company has now raised $45 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


Onefootball, a nine-year-old, Berlin-based platform for football fans that features live scores, news, stats, video and live broadcasts from 140 leagues, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series B and C funding, including from Adidas. Founder and CEO Lucas Von Cranach declined to share new number on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin earlier today. TechCrunch has more here.


Qvella, an eight-year-old, Ontario, Canada-based molecular diagnostics companythat aims to dramatically reduce the time to results in the diagnosis of infections, has raised $20 million in Series B financing. New strategic investor bioMérieuxparticipated in the round; so did Qvella’s earlier backers RA CapitalWhitecap Venture PartnersHatteras Ventures, and Sands CapitalMore here.


TravelNest, a three-year-old, Edinburgh, Scotland-based travel tech startup, has raised £3 million in seed funding from PentechMangrove Capital Partners,Frontline Ventures, and former Skyscanner COO Mark Logan. has more here.





Xiaomi wants to go public — at a $50 billion valuation (at least). Bloomberg has more here.





SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, its most powerful reusable rocket to date, is all set to have a spectacular first launch that will include Elon Musk‘s very own Tesla. While playing “Space Oddity” by David Bowie. Because Elon Musk.





Amazon is hiring a senior manager to add to its corporate development team. The job is in Seattle.



Essential Reads


Researchers are furiously combating racial and gender bias in artificial intelligence.


A new ICO-focused division of the SEC filed its first charges on Friday, targeting a scam that reportedly raised $15 million from thousands of investors by promising athirteen-fold profit in less than a month.





People have spent more than $1 million, buying virtual cats on the Ethereum blockchain.


The “House of Cards” is coming back, without Kevin Spacey.



Retail Therapy


Twenty-six gift ideas for the furrier members of your family.




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