StrictlyVC: January 23, 2018

Hi, and happy Tuesday, all.


We’ve been on the phone (a lot) today, so no column. but much more tomorrow.:)


Top News


Twitter COO Anthony Noto has left the company to join the online lending company SoFi, whose cofounder and CEO, Mike Cagney, was forced to resign abruptly last September amid a sexual harassment investigation. Twitter cofounder and CEO Jack Dorsey wished Noto well in a tweet this morning, saying, “We love you.” TechCrunch has more here.


Uber, whose losses have piled up in the quest for growth around the world, will be profitable in three years, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told Bloomberg today in Davos. Khosrowshahi also said that Uber will be “leaning forward” and expanding into new markets, despite the recent suggestion by SoftBank executive and soon-to-be Uber director Rajeev Misra, who last week told the Financial Times that Uber should focus on more on core markets, including the U.S. (Drama!)


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New Fundings


Acellere, a nine-year-old, Frankfurt, Germany-based software technology company (we’re not sure of exactly what it does, even after reading its site), has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding led by Capnamic VenturesMore here.


Barstool Sports, a 10-year-old, New York-based sports and lifestyle site geared toward young men, has raised $15 million in new funding from majority owner Chernin Group. Reportedly, the outfit will use the capital to create some new properties, including (potentially) branded alcohol or even its own bar. Bloomberg has more here.


Bonti, a 2.5-year-old, Newport Beach, Ca.-based company that develops a Botox-like neurotoxin, has raised $15.5 million in Series C funding led by City Hill Ventures, a healthcare-focused firm based in San Diego. The Orange County Business Journal has more here.


Cognovi Labs, a year-old, Dayton, Oh.-based SaaS service that tries to capture emotions in social media content, has raised $2.3 million in seed funding led byIkove Venture Partners, with participation from HBS Alumni Angels of Greater New York and Bossa Nova InvestimentosMore here.


D-ID, a year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based startup whose deep-learning software protects identities from facial recognition technologies, has raised $4 million in seed funding. Pitango Venture Capital led the round, with participation from Y CombinatorFoundation CapitalFenox Venture CapitalMaverick Ventures, and unnamed angel investors. More here.


Dremio, a 2.5-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based self-service data company, raised $25 million in Series B funding led by Norwest Venture Partners, with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Redpoint VenturesMore here.


Esports One, a year-old, New York-based data and analytics company focused on esports, has raised $3 million in seed funding co-led by XSeed Capital and Eniac Ventures, with participation from Crest Capital. Forbes has more here.


Harbour BioMed, a 1.5-year-old, Shanghai, China-based developer of cancer therapeutics, has raised funding of an undisclosed amount of funding, including fromCDH Investments and Advantech CapitalMore here.


Paytronix Systems, a 17-year-old, Newton, Mass.-based maker of loyalty, rewards, gift, mobile applications, and guest engagement analytics software, has raised $65 million in funding, including from Great Hill PartnersMore here.


PrinterLogic, a 17-year-old, St. George, Ut.-based company that sells print management software and services, raised $15 million in Series A funding led byMercato PartnersMore here.


Rainforest QA, a 5.5-year-old, San Francisco-based on-demand software QA service, has raised $25 million in Series B funding. Silicon Valley BankBessemer Venture PartnersSutter Hill CapitalRincon Ventures and Initialized Capitalall participated in the round. which brings the company’s total funding to roughly $42 million. TechCrunch has more here.


SheerID, a 7.5-year-old, Eugene, Ore.-based verification technology company, has raised $18 million in Series B funding led by Centana Growth Partners, with participation from earlier backer Voyager Capital. GeekWire has more here.


SmartHR, a Japan-based recruiting startup, has raised $13.3 million in Series B funding led by 500 Startups Japan. TechCrunch has more here.


Springbuk, a 2.5-year-old, Indianapolis, In.-based company that makes employer-facing health intelligence software, has raised $20 million in Series B funding co-led by HealthQuest Capital and Echo Health Ventures, with participation from Lewis & Clark Ventures and Elevate VenturesMore here.


Unravel Data a four-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based maker of application performance management software, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by GGV Capital, with participation from Menlo Ventures and Microsoft Ventures. The company has now raised $23 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


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New Funds


David Barber, owner of the Blue Hill restaurant, farm, and hospitality consulting mecca and an active angel investor, has closed on $30 million in capital commitments for his first venture fund, called Almanac Investments. Barber will use the money to back companies that are developing products and services that improve the food and hospitality industries. TechCrunch has more here.


Aspect Ventures, the three-year-old, San Francisco-based early stage firm, has finalized its second fund. The team, led by longtime VCs Jennifer Fonstad andTheresia Gouw, has closed on $181 million in capital commitments, up from the $150 million the firm raised for its debut effort. Among its newest limited parters:Melinda Gates and Cisco. TechCrunch has more here.




The NYSE took a swipe today at its London rival in its battle to attract the foreign listing of shares in oil giant Saudi Aramco, saying it didn’t need to “bend over backwards” to lure what could be the world’s biggest IPO. Reuters has the story here.




Publicly traded ComScore, which tracks online viewership and box-office performance of Hollywood films, is exploring a potential sale, reports Bloomberg. The company, based in Reston, Va., apparently hasn’t held an annual meeting since 2015, amid an accounting probe into how it booked some types of revenue. More here.


Paddle8, the seven-year-old, online art auctioneer, has had a rough 12 months, including the bankruptcy of its parent company, notes Dealbook. Now, it’s merging with Native, a Swiss technology and e-commerce company, and adopting the use of blockchain. More here.




Shawn Cheng has joined ConsenSys (founded by Ethereum cofounder Joe Lubin) as the head of partnerships and programs for its incubator, Labs. Cheng was previously a principal with Vayner/RSE.


Uber has hired Bo Young Lee, the former global diversity and inclusion leader of insurance company Marsh LLC, to be its first-ever chief diversity officer.


Jed Leidheiser has been promoted to vice president at the L.A.-based venture firm March Capital. Previously, Leidheiser focused on enterprise investing at Work-Bench Ventures in New York and before that, he was a senior manager at Accenture.


The head of Facebook’s AI research is stepping down as it shakes up management.


Elon Musk may have the boldest compensation plan in corporate history.




Costanoa Ventures, an early-stage venture firm that invests primarily in enterprise tech, is looking to hire a full-time associate. The job is in sunny Palo Alto, Ca.


Essential Reads


Apple will release its $349 HomePod speaker on February 9th, though it starts taking pre-orders on Friday.


Stripe just ended Bitcoin support because why bother if no one is going to spend theirs.




Vaping is bad.


Tinder is also worse than you thought.


Depression may have an evolutionary purpose.


When your mom is “Tiger Mother” Amy Chua. (Love this.)


Retail Therapy


The Nike React Flyknit. Capable of bouncing off pillow-laden trampolines.

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