StrictlyVC: December 12, 2017

Hi, happy Tuesday, all! Please excuse any and all typos as we’re zooming off to holiday musical at our sons’ school. We’re guessing some of you also have performances coming up, too.:) More tomorrow!


Top News


San Francisco’s mayor, Ed Lee, has passed away after suffering a heart attack last night. Lee, whose ambitions included making San Francisco, and not Silicon Valley, the tech center of the universe, was just 65. More here.


SEC Chair Jay Clayton warned investors yesterday to be cautious when it comes to investing in cryptocurrencies and ICOs, saying: “Investors should understand that to date no initial coin offerings have been registered with the SEC.  The SEC also has not to date approved for listing and trading any exchange-traded products (such as ETFs) holding cryptocurrencies or other assets related to cryptocurrencies. If any person today tells you otherwise, be especially wary.” More here.


Twitter is introducing a new way to tweet a thread and people are concerned.


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Facebook Bats Back After a Second Former Exec Accuses it of Negatively Impacting Society


Yesterday, The Verge published comments made by investor and former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya, quoting his interview last month at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, where he echoed recent comments made by former Facebook  president Sean Parker that the platform is having deleterious effects on society.


Said Palihapitiya at Stanford, “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse. No cooperation. Misinformation. Mistruth.”


It appears that Palihapitiya made the comments just a day or two after Parker broadcast his own warnings in an interview with Axios, telling interviewer Mike Allen that the thought process behind building the social media giant was: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” Added Parker at the time: “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”


Either way, the one-two punch was evidently more than Facebook’s could stomach, perhaps because Palihapitiya’s comments were so widely circulated yesterday — appearing first in the Verge but subsequently in CNBC, Quartz, Business Insider, and Fortune. This morning, Facebook issued a statement in which it referred by first name to Palihapitiya, writing:


Chamath has not been at Facebook for over six years. When Chamath was at Facebook we were focused on building new social media experiences and growing Facebook around the world. Facebook was a very different company back then and as we have grown we have realised how our responsibilities have grown too. We take our role very seriously and we are working hard to improve. We’ve done a lot of work and research with outside experts and academics to understand the effects of our service on well-being, and we’re using it to inform our product development. We are also making significant investments more in people, technology and processes, and – as Mark Zuckerberg said on the last earnings call – we are willing to reduce our profitability to make sure the right investments are made.


It’s a surprising move for the juggernaut, which would normally leave well enough alone.


More here.


New Fundings


Aspiration, a four-year-old, L.A.-based fintech company hat offers a pay-what-you-will fee structure for its customers, has raised $47 million in Series B funding led bySocial Impact Finance, along with new and existing investors, including Allen and CompanyOmidyar NetworkAlpha EdisonAGO PartnersReyl & Cie, and Capricorn Investments. The company has now raised $67 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


Clubhouse, a three-year-old, New York-based project management tools company, has raised $10 million in Series A funding from Battery Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


Digital House, a two-year-old, Buenos Aires, Argentina-based group of coding schools for Latin America, has raised $20 million in fresh funding led by The Rise Fund, a TPG investment vehicle, with participation from Endeavor Catalyst,Omidyar Network, and earlier investors. More here.


Gremlin, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that helps companies stress test their apps, has raised $8.75 million in seed and Series A funding from Index Ventures and Amplify Partners. VentureBeat has more here.


Harry’s, the five-year-old, New York-based razor subscription service, has raised nearly $63.6 million in new funding, shows an SEC filing first flagged by Axios. The company had previously raised $287 million, shows Crunchbase, including fromWellington ManagementTiger Global ManagementHighland Capital Partners, and BullishMore here.


Landoop, a year-old, London and Athens-based startup that’s building systems powered by the popular open source project Apache Kafka to assist with stream processing, has raised $1 million in seed funding from Marathon Venture CapitalMore here.


Manticore Games, a year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based startup founded by former Zynga and Electronic Arts execs, has raised $15 million from Benchmark Capital. VentureBeat has more here.


Mindspace, a four-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based co-working startup, has raised $20 million in new funding from the U.K.  private equity firm Crossroads. The company has now collected $35 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


NuCypher, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup trying to provide a privacy layer for the public blockchain and decentralized application, has raised $4.3 million in an ICO presale led by the crypto fund Polychain Capital. The company’s token sale will be staged early next year, it says. More here.


Simility, a three-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based maker of machine learning–powered adaptive fraud prevention software, has raised $17.5 million in fresh funding led byAccel Partners. Other participants in the round include The Valley Fund andTrinity Ventures. The company has now raised $25 million altogether. More here.


Upstream Security, a new, Herzliya, Israel-based startup aiming to protect connected vehicles and eventually autonomous cars, has raised $9 million in Series A funding led by CRV, with participation from Glilot Capital Partners and Maniv Mobility also participated. The company had raised $2 million in seed funding in June. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds


San Diego startups on the hunt for venture capital now have another option to pitch locally without traveling to Silicon Valley or elsewhere: Anzu Partners, which closed a new $128.4 million fund last week, says it will be investing in industrial technologies primarily. More here in the San Diego Tribune.


Israeli-born venture capitalist Alon Lifshitz is reportedly raising a $120 million fund, to be called Hanaco Venture Capital, and it has apparently already raised $80 million primarily from family offices. Lifshitz is a former managing director of San Francisco-based venture firm Blumberg Capital, where he headed the firm’s Tel Aviv office. Calcalist has the skinny here.


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Eric Anderson has joined the venture firm Scale Venture Partners as its newest principal. Anderson was most recently a product manager in the data analytics and machine learning group at Google. More here.


Rob Rhinehart, founder of the oft-maligned food-replacement startup Soylent, is stepping down as CEO effectively immediately, he announced yesterday. Bryan Crowley, named president of Soylent parent company Rosa Foods in June, will take over. TechCrunch has more here.


Jim Roberts, a former Mashable executive editor and veteran New York Times and Reuters digital editor, is joining the venture-backed streaming TV startup Cheddar as editor-in-chief to lead its newsroom and editorial coverage. Axios has more here.




Beringea, a $675 million venture/growth capital fund, with offices in the U.K. and U.S., is looking to hire an investment director and/or an investment manager to its U.K. investment team. The role(s) are based in London. More details here.


Essential Reads


Why the AmazonWhole Foods deal is turning out to be good for delivery startups.


Are people souring on HQ Trivia?


Box just launched a new consulting unit.


It turns out you’re going to have to register your small drones with the U.S. government after all.




Millions of people post comments on federal regulations. Many are fake, reports the WSJ.


Spotted Pig owner Ken Friedman has been accused by at least ten women of sexual harassment.


End of semester bingo!


Retail Therapy


The new iMac Pro will be available to purchase on Thursday. Bring at least $5,000 with you.)


You’ll want to play hooky with this Hookie. (Yes, we are that corny.)


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