StrictlyVC: December 15, 2018

Friday! [Tips hat, moonwalks off stage into curtains.]


Hope you have an excellent weekend, everyone. See you Monday.:)


Top News


The large online brokerage TD Ameritrade says it will begin allowing trading of bitcoin futures on its futures platform on Monday.


SoftBank is reportedly in talks to invest as much as $300 million in the dog-walking app Wag, says Recode, which says the company was originally seeking (just) $100 million in funding and already had an offer from a top VC firm when SoftBank came a’ knockin’. More here.


Cities Do Want to Rethink Regulations and Avoid Tech Clashes (and Here’s Some  Proof)


In Jakarta, Indonesia, only 50 percent of the population has access to the piped sewerage system. More than 500,000 residents practice open defecation, and more than one million people discharge wastewater directly into the river, resulting in deteriorated groundwater quality and putting residents at risk to waterborne diseases.


The better news: the city has a master plan to improve the piped sewerage service that would cover 65 percent of the future population, while the remaining 35 percent would be served with alternative approaches, including on-site sewerage, conventional septic tanks, and community scale waste water treatment plans.


Whether that precise plan comes to fruition is an open question, but it’s certainly better than not having a plan at all. Such is the thinking behind a new summit called CityXChange that invites cities from around the world to work for five days with technologists and VCs across a variety of disciplines and that’s spearheaded by the Rockefeller Foundation, established by the Rockefeller family more than 100 years ago to promote the “well-being of humanity throughout the world.”


Indeed, back in May, in the small town of Bellagio, Italy, 50 city leaders, investors, and startup executives came together to brainstorm creative solutions to each of the cities’ most pressing problems, like congestion in Sydney, Australia and how to fulfill a promise made by the city of Atlanta, Ga. that it will fully transition to clean and renewable energy. The idea was to find technologies that can address each issue, while also recognizing the bureaucracy that often defines government at every level — and figuring out workarounds.


Now, the foundation is releasing some of its learnings from that confab, which it will host again in 2018, with the hope that such takeaways can begin to form a roadmap. (Cities and startups interested in attending can apply here.)


The biggest takeaway, seemingly, is that such meetings are not a waste of time.


More here.


New Fundings


3TEN8, a three-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based startup working on artificial intelligence for network operations, with a focus on diagnosing and predicting network outages and degradations, has raised $2 million in seed funding. Backers include Social CapitalCitrix and Cloudera CTO Amr AwadallahMore here.


Airwallex, a two-year-old, Melbourne, Australia-based fintech startup that helps banks and businesses handle cross-border transactions at scale, has raised $6 million in fresh capital from Square Peg. The startup had previously raised $16 million, including a $13 million Series A this past May. Others of its backers includeTencentMasterCardGobi Ventures and Sequoia China. TechCrunch has more here.


Bay Labs, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based medical imaging technology company, has raised $5.5 million in Series A funding led by Khosla Ventures, with participation from Data CollectiveGrenoble Venture PartnersMinneapolis Heart Institute Ventures and Georges HarikMore here.


Bitwise, a year-old, San Francisco-based cryptocurrency index fund manager, has raised $4 million in seed funding from Khosla VenturesGeneral Catalyst Partners, and Blockchain CapitalMore here.


Curisium, a months-old, Manhattan Beach, Ca..-based healthcare tech and services startup that’s using a blockchain-based platform, has raised $3.5 million in in seed funding. Investors include Flare Capital PartnersNew Enterprise Associates,Shuttle FundSanofi Ventures, and Green Bay Ventures. Healthcare IT News has more here.


Elemeno Health, a 1.5-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based, cloud-based “virtual coach” for healthcare teams, has raised $1.3 million in seed funding led by Launchpad Digital HealthMore here.


Finiata, a 1.5-year-old, Berlin-based lending company that provides working capital to freelancers and small and medium-size businesses, has raised €18 million ($21.3 million) in Series A funding, including from DN CapitalPoint NineFly Venturesand RedalpineMore here.


Huddly, a four-year-old, Oslo, Norway-based startup whose smart camera for video conferences uses on-board computer vision to understand who’s in a room, what the lighting looks like and what background noises are affecting sound, has raised $10 million in Series C funding led by Huddly Chairman Graham Williams, with participation from numerous Huddly employees. TechCrunch has more here.


Kami, a 2.5-year-old, Hong Kong-based conversational AI company, has raised $1.7 million in seed funding, including from the ARM Innovation Ecosystem AcceleratorX Technology Fund and Tin Fu FundMore here.


Kyn Therapeutics, a year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based biotechnology company that’s developing cancer therapies, has raised $49 million Series A funding fromOrbiMed and Atlas Venture. FierceBiotech has more here.


Loot, a three-year-old, London-based startup that offers digital-only accounts that come with a Mastercard and an app to help with budgeting, has raised £2.2 million ($2.9 million) in Series A funding. Power Corporation’s corporate VC arm, Portag3 Ventures, led the round, with participation from the venture firm Speedinvest. TechCrunch has more here.


Mirror AI, a months-old, Russia-based startup whose app takes a selfie photo of users, then attempts to transform the image of their faces, has raised $3.5 million, including from NBA star Kevin Durant and billionaire Peter Thiel. Crunchbase News has more here.


Pace, a 1.5-year-old, London-based startup that uses machine learning and dynamic pricing to maximize hotels’ revenues and occupancy, has raised £2.5 million ($2.4 million) in seed funding led by InterGlobe, with participation fromSeedcampSpeedinvest and Amadeus Capital Partners. TechCrunch has more here.


Splice, a four-year-old, New York-based cloud-based music creation and collaboration platform, has raised $35 million in Series B funding led by DFJ Growth, with participation from earlier backers True VenturesUnion Square Ventures, and Flybridge Capital Partners. Recode has more here.


Spotlite, a months-old, L.A.-bsaed fan app that combines video, live streaming, messaging and gifting to enable aspiring artists to make money, has raised $10 million from Sequoia Capital China and BlueRun Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


Sponsored By . . .


Join over 6000 VCs (from Sequoia, KPCB, A16Z, and other top firms) and VC job hunters on John Gannon‘s VC jobs email list. His readers have used his email list to help them get jobs at top firms like Bessemer, General Catalyst, and IVP. Click here to subscribe.




Andover, Massachusetts-based Casa Systems had a tough time pulling off its IPO this week, though it got the job done. TechCrunch takes a look here.





You can buy a 700-acre former sugar plantation in Hawaii to get away, but there will still be paparazzi.


Snap’s “People VP” Jason Halbert isn’t so popular with the troops, apparently. The decorated ex-military officer was investigated last spring by an outside law firm following numerous employee complaints, reports The Information, which notes he is still with the company.


Essential Reads


Even Facebook is now saying that Facebook is bad for you. (It also adds that this isn’t the “whole story,” but it’s a lot of the story.)


China’s top phone makers are poised to challenge Apple on its home turf as soon as next year, after trouncing the iPhone maker in their own home market.




Investors love this artist who you’ve maybe never heard of before.


Inside the mad dash to bring you cheap, generic Viagra.


Every Star Wars movie, ranked.


Retail Therapy


Sixty-three gifts for every type of Mom. That you can buy on Amazon.


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