StrictlyVC: January 25, 2018

Happy Thursday, everyone.:)


No column today (too much news!).


Top News


Benchmark’s controversial, explosive lawsuit against cofounder and former CEO Travis Kalanick is officially history. A judge today permanently dismissed the venture firm’s case against the former Uber CEO following Benchmark’s agreement to dismiss the suit. Recode has more here.


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New Fundings


Allure Security, a seven-year-old, Waltham, Ma.-based company that’s developing data loss detection technology, has raised $5.3 million in seed funding led byGlasswing Ventures, with participation from GreycroftZetta Venture Partnersand Portage PartnersMore here.


Arundo Analytics, a 2.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based company that markets its big data and machine-learning-driven analytics to asset-intensive industries, has raised $25 million in Series A funding. Investors include Sundt ASStokke IndustriHorizonCanicaStrømstangenArctic Fund Management,Stanford-StartX Fund and Northgate PartnersMore here.


Botkeeper, a 2.5-year-old, Boston, Ma.-based automated bookkeeping software startup, has raised  $4.5 million in seed funding led by Ignition Partners., with participation from a long list of individual investors, including former Microsoft CFOJohn ConnorsMore here.


Carmudi, a 4.5-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based Rocket Internet-backed company that sells cars online in emerging markets, has raised $10 million to develop its business in Southeast Asia after shrinking its global footprint. The new funding was raised incrementally, including from Holtzbrinck VenturesTengelmann Ventures, and Asia Pacific Internet Group. TechCrunch has more here.


Enertiv, a nine-year-old, New York-based company that uses sensors to track equipment performance within a commercial building, has raised $4.25 million in funding led by Fifth Wall Ventures, with participation from Rudin VenturesNew York AngelsCerium Technology and MetaProp NYC. The Commercial Observer has more here.


EtaGen, an eight-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based company that has developed a linear generator technology, has raised $83 million in Series C funding from 10 strategic investors, including American Electric PowerCentrica Innovations, and Statoil Energy Ventures. Earlier investors in the company include Bill Gatesand Khosla Ventures. More on the company, which has now raised $133 million altogether, here.


Inprentus, a 5.5-year-old, Champaign, Il.-based precision optics company that makes blazed diffraction gratings for x-ray and extreme ultraviolet light  applications, has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding led by Flyover Capital, with participation from other investors that included Serra VenturesMore here.

Nexar, a three-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based startup that makes an AI-based dashcam app to monitor road safety, has raised $30 million in Series B funding led by Ibex Ventures. Other participants include Alibaba Innovation Ventures,Nationwide Insurance and earlier investors AlephMosaic VenturesSlow VenturesTrue Ventures and Tusk Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


Ring, a six-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based maker of camera-enabled doorbell products, is raising $160 million at a valuation of nearly $1 billion, nearly double from only a year ago, according to a securities filing and investors. The Information has more here.


Snowflake, a 5.5-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based cloud data warehouse startup led by former Microsoft exec Bob Muglia, has raised another $263 million of venture capital, giving it a valuation of $1.5 billion. Sequoia Capital led the round, which also included earlier investors Iconiq CapitalAltimeter CapitalCapital One Growth VenturesMadrona Venture GroupRedpoint VenturesSutter Hill Ventures and Wing Ventures. GeekWire has more here.


StoreHub, a 3.5-year-old, Malaysia-based startup that helps retailers digitize their businesses, has raised $5.1 million in Series A funding led by Vertex Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


TeacherGaming, a seven-year-old, New York-based startup from the team behind MinecraftEdu, a company that helped teachers use Minecraft in the classroom and was subsequently acquired by Microsoft, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding. Leading the round is Makers Fund, with participation from Brent Hoberman’sFounders Factory. TechCrunch has more here.


Tigera, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that helps businesses connect and secure their container-based applications, has raised $10 million in fresh funding led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from New Enterprise Associates and Wing Venture Capital. TechCrunch has more here.


Tryb Group, a 1.5-year-old, Singapore-based organization focused on fintech services in Southeast Asia, has landed $30 million in funding from Makara Capital. TechCrunch has more here.


XtalPi, a three-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based biotech firm that uses artificial intelligence to accelerate the development of new drugs, has raised $15 million fromGoogleSequoia China, and Tencent. TechCrunch has more here.


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New Funds


DN Capital, one of Europe’s oldest venture capital firms with offices in Berlin and Menlo Park, Ca., has closed its fourth fund with €200 million in commitments. The firm invests primarily in seed-stage and Series A companies and is especially interested in marketplaces, SaaS, fintech, digital health and consumer mobile apps. TechCrunch has more here.


It’s high times for the marijuana industry as more regions move to legalize its use. One beneficiary: Privateer Holdings, one of the big investors in the space, which says it just closed on $100 million in capital commitments to back more cannabis startups. TechCrunch has more here.




Biotech’s next big IPO could unravel at the 11th hour. Here’s why.





AWS has purchased Sqrrl, a Cambridge, Ma.-based security startup with roots in the NSA. The company helps analyze a variety of sources to track and understand security threats quickly using machine learning. Financial terms of the deal aren’t known. TechCrunch has more here.


Gfycat, a player on the smaller side of the consumer-facing explosion of GIFs, continues to build out its suite of creator tools with a new acquisition: MovieLala, which helps studios craft campaigns for their movies for fans. MovieLaLa had raised $1.4 million in seed funding roughly a year ago, including from Walt Disney CFO Jay Rasulo and former LucasFilm COO David Anderman. TechCrunch has more here.


Square has acquired Entrees On Trays, a 32-year-old restaurant delivery platform. The plan is to expand the footprint of its on-demand food delivery service, Caviar, in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area, says the company. TechCrunch has more here.


Sotheby‘s, one of the world’s oldest and biggest art auction houses, has acquired AI startup Thread Genius, whose set of algorithms can instantly identify objects, then recommend images of similar objects to the viewer. Financial terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, through Thread Genius was a three-person company and both founders and the data scientist they’d hired are joining Sotheby’s as part of the deal. TechCrunch has more here.





After being one of the first musicians to accept Bitcoin all the way back in 2014, Rapper 50 Cent (a.k.a. Curtis Jackson) appears to have accumulated a small fortune in the volatile digital currency. As TMZ first reported and Jackson seems to have confirmed, he left his Bitcoin sales untouched until rediscovering them some time recently.


Ken Chenault, the longtime chairman and CEO of American Express, looks to have a busy (and lucrative) career as a director when he steps down from the company next month. Last week, Facebook said it has added Chenault to its board — the first new Facebook board member since WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum joined in 2014. Now Airbnb has also brought him onto its board as its first independent director. (Could Twitter, whose CMO came from Amex, be next? Stay tuned.) Dealbook has more here.


Yikes. According to the New York Post, star Benchmark partner Peter Fenton has separated from his wife and is now dating entrepreneur Kate Greer, who earlier dated the star founder of both Twitter and Square, Jack Dorsey, for four years. Why it’s awkward, notes the Post: Fenton led an early round in Twitter and sat on its board until last May. The Post also spied a seething tweet published last fall by Fenton’s wife that read: “You know the guy who puts his family in a lower class of service on the plane, same guy puts his mistress in 1st #consistentlackofcharacter.”


CNN’s attempt at expanding its digital news business by bringing in a top YouTube creator has failed, reports TechCrunch, CNN is closing down YouTube star Casey Neistat’s video business, Beme, which it bought for a reported $25 million back in 2016. In addition, the YouTuber and his co-founder, Matt Hackett, are also leaving the company. More here.


One of Snap CEO Evan Spiegel’s top lieutenants, Tom Conrad, will leave Snapchat, and the whole tech industry, in March, roughly two years after he joined the company as VP of Product. Conrad tells TechCrunch that after more than 30 years in tech, it’s “time for me to put my energy outside of tech into music, food, photography and things closer to art than entrepreneurship.”


Engineer Steve Yegge writes on Medium that he left Google after nearly 13 years because it has lost the ability to innovate.





eBay is looking to hire a corporate development associate. The job is in San Jose, Ca.



Essential Reads


Ripple wants its XRP currency to be bitcoin for banks. But banks say they have no interest in using it.


Twitter is working on a Snapchat-style video sharing tool.




These 12 camels were disqualified from a Saudi beauty pageant over Botox injections to make them more attractive. (True story!)


Are you also familiar with the psychotic barf crying of a toddler?


Twelve Winston Churchill quotes to live by.


Retail Therapy


balm for the soul (and the lips, elbows, and feet).


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