StrictlyVC: January 24, 2018

Hi, all, happy Wednesday! (It’s Wednesday, right?)


Top News


The markets are about to get ugly according to these charts.


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Founders Caterina Fake and Jyri Engestrom Make it Official with a New Fund: Yes VC


Caterina Fake and Jyri Engeström have much in common beyond the home and family they share. Each has started — and sold — two companies. Fake famously cofounded the photo sharing site Flickr, which sold to Yahoo, before cofounding Hunch, which sold to eBay. Engeström cofounded Jaiku, a mobile social network thatsold to Google, before cofounding Ditto, a mobile local recommendations app that was acquired by Groupon.


Each has angel invested over the years. Fake wrote early checks to Kickstarter and Etsy, among tens of others; Engeström’s various bets include a startup called Applifier that sold to Unity Technologies; Moves, an activity tracking app acquired by Facebook; and the popular clothing label Betabrand.


More recently, both Fake and Engeström were also beginning to see more opportunities that seize on what Fake calls the “monumental changes” coming our collective way, including, in part, because of blockchain technologies.


They realized what they needed was a fund.


Enter Yes VC, a new, San Francisco-based pre-seed and seed-stage firm that’s targeting $50 million in capital commitments and already counts Supercell founder Ilkka Paananen, former Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson, and the family office of Nokia chairman Risto Siilasmaa, as limited partners.


To learn more about what the fund — which the pair expect to close next month and they’ve already used to back some interesting startups — we talked with Fake yesterday in a conversation that’s lightly edited here for length and clarity:


A decade ago, a recruiter told me he couldn’t talk you into becoming a VC.


It’s true. A lot of the reason I wanted to become an entrepreneur and avoid working for others is that you get to create the world you want to live in, and the company you want to work for, and I’ve loved that. It’s a part of entrepreneurship that women should really embrace.


I’ve also just been really busy. I joined the board of Etsy when it was just three founders and I helped recruit the COO and CTO, Chad Dickerson, who later became the CEO. Etsy was a big part of what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years.


But there’s another [overriding factor] in the timing, which is this monumental change going on, and I feel it. My background has always been in online community — later renamed “social media.” I was about open culture. I was on the board of Creative Commons. Web 2.0 was largely about open APIs and the liberating of data across the Internet. But gradually, everything got locked up [behind walled gardens, including that of Facebook].


And you weren’t interested in the internet as a social force.


Because of the reasons we’ve finally seen. Trust has dissolved. Fake news is ubiquitous.


More here.


New Fundings


BeliMobilGue, a year-old, Jakarta, Indonesia-based platform that wants to enable car owners in Southeast Asian countries to sell their vehicles securely online, has raised $3.7 million in seed funding led by Intudo Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


Blacklane, a seven-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based provider of limos and other high-end transportation, has raised between $40 million and $45 million in Series D funding led by ALFAHIM, with participation from earlier backers Daimler and btov Partners. TechCrunch has more here.


Dianrong, a five-year-old, Shanghai, China-based peer-to-peer lending platform, has raised $70 million in new Series D funding that brings the round total to $290 million. New investors include Orix Asia Capital and CLSA. Reuters has more here.


Front, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose app aims to help teams collaborate more efficiently by unifying email, and customer communications channels, among other things, is raising a $66 million in Series B funding led bySequoia, with DFJ and earlier investors also participating. TechCrunch has more here.


HomeShare, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that’s managing a growing number of moderately-priced, shared luxury apartments, has raised $5.7 million in a seed round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. Axios has more here.


Katerra, a three-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based construction-tech company led by former Flex CEO Michael Marks, has raised a stunning $865 million in new funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund, at a valuation north of $3 billion. Other participants in the round include the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Soros Fund Management. The New York Times has more here.


LindaCare, a Leuven, Belgium-based maker of remote patient monitoring software for chronic disease management, has raised €7 million ($8.6 million) in Series B funding from PhilipsPMV and earlier investors Capricorn Venture Partners and Connecticut InnovationsMore here.


Ninja Van, a nearly four-year-old, Singapore-based logistics company, has raised at least $87 million in Series C funding, including from the European parcel delivery firm DPDgroup. Tech in Asia has more here.


PrecisionHawk, a seven-year-old, Raleigh, N.C.-based enterprise drone platform, has raised $75 million in new funding led by Third Point Ventures. Others of the many investors in the round include Comcast VenturesSenator Investor GroupConstellation Technology VenturesSyngenta Ventures and earlier backers Intel CapitalMillennium Technology Value Partners, DuPont,Verizon VenturesUSAA and Indiana University’s Innovate Indiana Fund. VentureBeat has more here.


Stem, an eight-year-old, Millbrae, Ca.-based behind-the-meter battery startup, has raised $80 million in Series D funding led by the growth equity firm Activate Capital. It was joined by Temasek and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Greentech Media has more here.


Sun Basket, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that sells meal kits with organic and sustainable ingredients, is looking to raise up to $51 million in a Series D round — and at a price equal to the previous fundraising round, according to November filing discovered by The Information. The company was previously valued at around $460 million, according to PitchBook. More here.


Zylo, a nearly two-year-old, Chicago-area startup that provides business software to help track an excess of business software (really), has raised $9 million in funding from Bessemer Venture Partners and the venture arms of Salesforce and Slack. Forbes has the story here.


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(Other) New Funds


MFV Partners, a new, Los Altos, Ca.-based venture firm, is looking to raise $75 million for its debut fund,  according to an SEC filing. The firm is managed by Kartheepan Madasamy, a former managing director at Qualcomm Ventures, and Anand Kamannavar, who was formerly an investor with Applied Materials. More here.




Menlo Therapeutics, a seven-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based drug developer focused on chronic pruritus and chronic cough, has increased its proposed IPO terms from offering 5.7 million shares at $14 to $16, to offering 6.5 million shares at $16 to $17. The company has raised around $110 million in venture funding. Its biggest shareholders include Vivo Capital, which owns roughly 25 percent of the company; Remeditex, which owns 17.8 percent; and Presidio Partners, which owns 16.5 percent. Nasdaq has more here.


Solid Biosciences, a five-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based drug developer focused on Duchenne muscular dystrophy, increased its IPO terms today from 5.9 million shares being offered at $16 to $18, to 7 million shares being offered at $18 to $19. The company has raised more than $50 million in funding; its biggest outside shareholders include JPMorgan, which hold an 11.4 percent stake in the company; Perceptive Advisors, which owns 11 percent; and Bain Capital Life Sciences, which owns 6.7 percent. Nasdaq has more here.




Canadian marijuana producer Aurora Cannabis is acquiring CanniMed Therapeutics in a sweetened $1 billion cash-and-stock deal that would be the largest merger yet in the country’s red-hot cannabis industry, reports Bloomberg. Much more here.


Facebook is buying a two-year-old, Boston-based software company calledConfirm that specializes in authenticating government-issued identification cards, according to Business Insider. Confirm, which says on its website that it has more than 750 clients, will wind down its operations and its employees will join Facebook in Boston, according to its source. Crunchbase shows Confirm had raised at least $4 million in funding, including from Cava Capital and Rho VenturesMore here.


Fiverr, a seven-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based online marketplace where businesses can hire freelancers, is acquiring And Co, a New York City startup that’s been building online tools that freelancers can use manage their client relationships. (We talked with And Co., which was backed by Thrive Capital, in 2016.) More on the deal here.


Web hosting giant GoDaddy is acquiring Main Street Hub, a nearly eight-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based social media marketing platform. The deal is for $125 million in cash, plus up to $50 million in potential future earnouts, and is expected to close late in the second quarter of this year. Main Street had raised $93 million in debt and equity financing from Silicon Valley BankVista Equity PartnersBessemer Venture Partners and other investors. TechCrunch has more here.


KnightScope, a nearly five-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based maker of autonomous, street-patrolling robots (the company was recently criticized by San Francisco denizens for shooing away the homeless), has raised more than $25 million in new funding. Konica Minolta and Bright Success Capital joined the round, along with and 5,000 other investors through crowdfunding siteSeedInvest. The company has now raised $39 million altogether. Business Insider has more here.




Meg Whitman, one of Silicon Valley’s longest-serving female CEOs, has joined the new mobile media business founded by former animation studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg. She’ll serve as CEO starting on March 1. NewTV, as the company is tentatively called, will be based in L.A. and aims to bring Hollywood-quality storytelling to videos that last 10 minutes or less, says Bloomberg. More here.




FirstMark Capital, the early-stage venture firm, is looking to add a full-time associate to its investing team. The job is in New York.


Essential Reads


Apple is taking on its messaging rivals with the launch of Business Chat.


Google X is launching a cybersecurity company called Chronicle.


Why Twitter let Anthony Noto walk away.


Facebook begins its downward spiral.




Grumpy Cat’s owner was just awarded $700,000 in a lawsuit.


Does anyone actually work at WeWork?


What to cook this week.


Retail Therapy


Tennis whites are great, but tennis blacks? Hm. Not so bad, either.


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