StrictlyVC: January 12, 2018

Friday! As we sign off the weekend, we present you with a fresh snap of Brodie the Terrierist. (A reader noted unhappily yesterday that we haven’t published a picture of him in months.) Since debuting in SVC, he has doubled in size and has dug up half our backyard, but he is gradually losing interest in eating all the rugs in the house.


Separate note: We will be publishing SVC on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day; meanwhile, here are some great ways to observe the holiday.


Top News


Online bulk-order wholesaler Boxed has received acquisition interest from grocery giant Kroger and several other major retailers, according to Forbes, whose sources say the startup could fetch up to $500 million. More here.


Mark Zuckerberg saw his fortune fall $2.9 billion today after he posted plans to shift users’ news feeds toward content from family and friends at the expense of material from media outlets and businesses. More here.



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New Fundings


Acorns, a five-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based micro-investing app, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from The Rise Fund, a TPG-sponsored global investment fund. More here.


Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, a five-year-old, Princeton, N.J.-based specialty pharmaceutical company that’s trying to tackle opioid addiction, has raised $110 million in funding led by Wellington Capital Management, with participation fromAvista Capital PartnersRA Capital ManagementNew Leaf Venture PartnersDeerfield ManagementRock Springs Capital and Apple Tree PartnersMore here.


Closetbox, a three-year-old, Greenwood Village, Co.-based self-storage startup, has raised $7.3 million in Series A funding from investor Peter Roshko, with participation from earlier backer Boulder Ventures. The Denver Post has more here.


Elliot, a six-month-old, San Francisco-based software platform that aims to help retail brands centralize their online and offline sales channels, has raised $3 million in funding led by Bowery Capital and Susa Ventures, with participation fromAccelepriseBam VenturesFlexport, and SV AngelMore here.


Meicai, a three-year-old, Beijing, China-based startup that helps farmers sell vegetables to restaurants, has raised $450 million in funding co-led by Tiger Global Management and China Media Capital. China Money Network has more here.


Pager, a 3.5-year-old, New York-based mobile-first patient engagement and care navigation platform for large health plans and health systems, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding led by Horizon Healthcare Services, with participation from Lux CapitalGoodwater CapitalNew Enterprise Associatesand Vero NorteMore here.


The Plum Guide, a two-year-old, London-based startup that tries to match travelers with the right homes in London for their vacation (a curated Airbnb, essentially), has raised $7.8 million in Series A funding. Investors include Octopus VenturesLocal GlobeBGF Ventures and the founders of Secret Escapes,Zoopla, and Love FilmMore here.


SalesPro, a five-year-old, Bangalore-based sales consultancy startup, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from 3737 North Capital. The outlet Inc 42 has more here.


Smava, a 10.5-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based online loan comparison platform, has raised $65 million in fresh funding led by Vitruvian Partners, with participation from Runa Capital, among others. The company has now raised $135 million altogether. More here.



New Funds


Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners Private Markets team, an investment team within Morgan Stanley Investment Management, has closed its first standalone co-investment fund with $425 million, above the $350 million it says it was targeting. More here.


Truffle Capital, a 17-year-old, Paris-based investment firm, say it has closed its newest venture fund, Truffle BioMedTech, with $102 million in capital commitments from European and Asian institutional investors, corporations, and family offices. The apparent idea is to create up to 12 startups in France using “major breakthroughs” at North American and European research centers. More here.



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Maoyan Weying, China’s largest movie ticketing app, is planning a Hong Kong IPO that could raise about $1 billion, according to Bloomberg’s sources. More here.


Menlo Therapeutics, a seven-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based biotech that’s developing therapies for severely itchy skin, said it plans to raise $85 million in an offering 5.7 million shares at between $14 to $16 a piece. Nasdaq has slightly more here.




According to AxiosFirst Alert, a subsidiary of Newell Brands, has quietly acquiredLuma, a home WiFi system maker that had raised $22 million in VC funding from firms like Accel Partners and Amazon and we’d written about here. Terms aren’t being disclosed, but this isn’t “any sort of win” for Luma shareholders, says the outlet, which notes that competitor Eero also recently announced layoffs.


Publicly traded Cision, a Chicago-based company that sells public-relations software and analytics services (and owns a bunch of brands, including PR Newswire and Gorkana Group), is acquiring Prime Research, which sells media measurement and analysis services. Terms aren’t being disclosed. More here.




Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, are donating $33 million in the form of a scholarship grant to help 1,000 undocumented immigrant high school graduates with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status attend college.


Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein appeared to take another shot at Donald Trump in a tweet today.


Kelly Graziadei, former director of media partnerships at Facebook, has joined Foundation Capital as an entrepreneur-in-residence.


look at the life of Steve Jobs‘s formerly estranged daughter, Lisa


Nimi Katragadda has been promoted to partner at the venture firm BoxGroup. She’d joined BoxGroup in 2015 after spending a year with Rough Draft Ventures.


Jamey Sperans has joined Foundry Group as a partner with its fund-of-funds platform. Sperans previously spent 17 years with Morgan Stanley, leaving as a managing director.




One in six Americans — that’s 39 million people — now own a smart speaker, according to new research out this week from NPR and Edison Research. TechCrunch has more here.


The top U.S. tech companies founded by immigrants are now worth nearly $4 trillion, notes Recode.


Essential Reads


GM and Cruise are ditching the steering wheel.


Hackers could, gulp, blow up factories using smartphone apps, according to new findings by two security researchers.




Improving ourselves to death.


Retail Therapy


Diamond Atelier’s Urban21 Series. [Eyes fill with cartoon hearts.]


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