StrictlyVC: January 17, 2018

Hi, all, happy Wednesday.:)


No column today. We’ve been tied up at our eight-year-old’s spelling bee, which was almost comically nerve-racking. (For us. The kid was cool as a cucumber.)



Sponsored By …


Today’s StrictlyVC is sponsored by Siftery Track. As a reader, get free early access to track and easily optimize your team’s software expenditures. Simply sync your credit card or accounting system, and Siftery Track will automatically create beautiful visualizations of your historic and forecasted spend. You’ll also get alerts for new products, duplicate charges, unexpected increases in spend, and more.


New Fundings


Bingobox, a two-year-old, Guangdong, China-based automated convenience store startup, has raised $80 million in Series B funding led by Fosun Capital, with participation from Prometheus CapitalQiming Venture PartnersGGV Capital and Ventech China. China Money Network has more here.


Caocao Zhuanche, a 2.5-year-old, Hangzhou, China-based all-electric vehicle-sharing company backed by Chinese automaker Geely, has closed on $156 million in Series A funding, it said today, without disclosing its backers. The round reportedly assigns the company a valuation of $1.6 billion. China Money Network has more here.


CircleCI, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based continuous integration and delivery platform, has raised $31 million in Series C funding led by Top Tier Capital Partners. Other investors in the round include Industry VenturesHeavybit,Scale Venture PartnersBaseline VenturesHarrison Metal, and DFJ Ventures. More on the company, which has now raised $56.5 million altogether, in TechCrunch.


Data Nerds, a 4.5-year-old, British Columbia, Canada-based operator of an API for real estate and property data, has raised $3 million in Series A funding, including from Foundry Group and Techstars VenturesMore here.

Finery, a year-old, New York-based online wardrobe platform with predictive analytics for styling and shopping, has raised $5 million in seed funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from FarfetchBBG Ventures,Correlation VenturesNext Coast Ventures and Halogen Ventures. The WSJ has more here.


Hyr,  a 2.5-year-old, New York-based platform that connects traditional businesses with hourly paid workers to fill shifts on-demand, has raised $1.3 million in funding led by Flybridge Capital Partners, with participation from XFactor Ventures andNewark Venture PartnersMore here.

LumaTax, a two-year-old, Seattle-based company whose software streamlines sales tax reporting for small business owners, has raised $3 million in funding led byCowboy Ventures, with participation from Madrona Venture GroupGreycroft Partners and Vulcan Capital. GeekWire has more here.

Owkin, a two-year-old, New York-based predictive analytics company, has raised $11 million in Series A funding led by Otium Venture, with participation fromCathay InnovationPlug and Play and NJF Capital. FierceBiotech has more here.


Sweatcoin, a two-year-old, London-based startup whose free smartphone app lets users earn cryptocurrency in exchange for working out (no kidding), has raised $5.7 million in seed funding. Goodwater Capital led the round, which also included  Greylock PartnersRubylight and Seed Camp. TechCrunch has more here., a two-year-old, Karlsruhe, Germany-based machine-learning startup for training and validation data in autonomous vehicles, has raised $2.8 million in seed funding led by LEA Partners, with participation from Frontline VenturesSynapse Partners and Agile PartnersMore here.

Usermind, a five-year-old, Seattle-based company whose software tries to make it simpler to integrate enterprise applications, map data between them, and measure their impact, has raised $23.5 million in Series C funding led by Northgate Capital, with participation from Andreessen HorowitzMenlo Ventures and CRVMore here.


VDOO, a seven-month-old, Israel-based cybersecurity company whose technology allows IoT makers to add security features to devices post-deployment, has raised $13 million in funding led by 83North, with participation from Dell Technology Capital and numerous individual investors. Calcalist has more here.


Wattpad, an 11-year-old, Toronto-based multiplatform entertainment company for original stories, has raised $51 million in new funding, including from Tencent HoldingsBDC, Globe Telecom’s Kickstart VenturesPeterson Group, and existing investor Raine. TechCrunch has more here.


Sponsored By . . .


StrictlyVC is sponsored this week by Meld Valuation, a premiere independent valuation firm. We care about understanding the unique risk profile of your situation and most importantly making the quantitative reflect the qualitative story. Contact us today to learn about our services and how we can help you with everything from cap table management to complex valuation engagements.


New Funds


Famed former Cisco CEO John Chambers has launched a new, self-funded venture firm called JC2 Ventures with his son John, according to Axios. The firm has already made some bets, including investing in drone software company Airware and the social media management company Sprinklr. More here.


One of the most prominent seed investors in Utah, Kickstart Seed Fund, has closed on its fourth fund at $74 million — nearly double the size of its previous, $39 million, fund.  Among its LPs are local entrepreneurs, including Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith and Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard. TechCrunch has more here.


Venture capital firm Shenzhen Green Pine Capital Partners has launched a $155 million fund to help overseas Chinese scientists return home to start businesses in the southern city of Shenzhen. China Money Network has more here.




The 19-year-old polling company SurveyMonkey is preparing to go public later this year, according to Recode sources. It would be one of the most closely watched IPOs of the year. As some of you may recall, we talked with SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie at one of our nighttime StrictlyVC events in late 2016, and Lurie said then that an IPO was likely after 2017.)




Biotech giant Celgene is in talks to buy the five-year-old, publicly traded biotechnology company Juno Therapeutics just days after announcing another major deal to bolster its portfolio of blood-cancer drugs, reports the WSJ. It couldn’t learn terms of the deal but Juno had a market value of about $5.5 billion as of yesterday afternoon. (Also worth noting — and the WSJ does — this wouldn’t be a gunshot wedding: In 2015, the companies announced a 10-year collaboration in which Celgene paid Juno $150 million upfront and acquired $846.3 million of shares in exchange for options to market some Juno immunotherapy treatments.) More here.


Grab, Uber’s main rival in Southeast Asia, is continuing to develop its mobile payment strategy, announcing the acquisition of five-year-old, India-based startup iKaaz. Terms of the deal aren’t disclosed, but iKaaz’s engineering team will reportedly join the Bangalore-based engineering office that Grab opened last year. TechCrunch has more here.




Apple told employees today that it’s issuing a bonus of $2,500 worth of restricted stock units to most of them worldwide, following the introduction of the new U.S. tax law.


Monique Woodard, the first black partner at the (now somewhat beleaguered) venture firm 500 Startups, says she’s leaving the firm but staying in venture capital. More here.




Cota Capital, the four-year-old venture firm headed up by Bobby Yazdani, is looking to a hire an associate. The job is in San Francisco.


Essential Reads


Amazon looks to be taking on Wish with an “Under $10” selection of products that ship for free.


Chipmaking giant Broadcom says it’s under investigation by U.S. antitrust officials for potentially anticompetitive conduct.


No one wants your old clothes anymore (which means there’s an opportunity here).





Twenty films to see at Sundance.


Michael Wolff’s explosive account of the Trump White House, “Fire and Fury,” willsoon be a television series.


How Vans became the shoes that everyone is wearing — again.


Retail Therapy


Thirty-four pretty solid Valentine’s Day cards you can buy on Amazon.


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