StrictlyVC: January 30, 2018

Hi, happy Tuesday.:) Running out the door but more tomorrow!


Top News


AmazonBerkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase announced today that they are forming an independent health care company to serve their employees in the United States. The three provided few details about the new entity but they say the idea is to initially focus on providing simplified, high-quality, affordable health care for their employees and their families — a development that must have health insurers quaking in their boots in this morning. The New York Times has more here.


And it is done. Wag, the three-year-old, L.A.-based on-demand mobile dog walking and dog care service, has raised $300 million in fresh funding from the SoftBank Vision Fund. Last week, The Information reported that this deal might not close — that SoftBank had not committed to the round after scaring off other potential investors with the amount of capital it wanted to plug into the company, so you can imagine that SoftBank turned the screws here. Indeed, SoftBank now owns 45 percent of the company, says Recode. It also installed a new CEO.


Bitcoin just fell below $10,000 again. Here’s what’s happening.


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New Fundings


BrowserStack, a seven-year-old mobile and browser testing platform that’s headquartered in Mumbai, India, has raised $50 million in Series A funding — entirely from Accel Partners. TechCrunch has more here.


Cake Technologies, a 1.5-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based developer of a swipeable browser built specifically for mobile devices, has raised $5 million in pre-Series A funding led by Peak Ventures, with participation from Pelion Venture Partners and Kickstart Seed Fund. TechCrunch has more here.


Drop, a 2.5-year-old, Toronto-based startup whose app allows consumers to collect points for transactions they make and then receive reward offers, has raised $21 million in Series A funding led by New Enterprise Associates. Other participants in the round, which bring the company’s total funding to $26 million, include Sierra VenturesWhite Star Capitalff Venture CapitalPortag3 VenturesSilicon Valley Bank. TechCrunch as more here.


Memphis Meats, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based, so-called clean meat startup, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Tyson Foods. The company previously raised $22 million from investors, including DFJCargill andBill Gates. Fortune has more here.


Next Trucking, a 2.5-year-old, Lynwood, Ca.-based online marketplace that connects truckers with shippers, has raised $21 million in Series B funding led bySequoia Capital, with participation from (unnamed) previous investors. VentureBeat has more here.


TytoCare, a seven-year-old, New York-based online healthcare platform that connects people to clinicians for home examinations and diagnosis, has raised $25 million in funding led by Ping An Global Voyager Fund, with participation from Qure and earlier investors Cambia Health Solutions,WalgreensOrbimedFosun Pharma and LionBird. MedCity News has more here.


Virzoom, a 2.5-year-old, Cambridge, Ma-based VR fitness company, has raised $5.5M in seed funding, including from cofounder and CEO Eric JanszenSkywood CapitalEastham CapitalFairhaven Capital, and Equity Resource InvestmentsMore here.


Xperiel, a 4.5-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based startup that says its tools can connect technologies like AR, VR, and IoT with existing infrastructure in order to offer experiential content through mobile devices, has raised $7 million in Series A funding. Investors include Intuit cofounder Scott CookFounders FundWTI and the National Basketball Association’s Sacramento KingsMore here.


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New Funds


Andrew Ng, the former chief scientist at Baidu and co-founder of Coursera, has officially closed his debut fund with $175 million in capital commitments, including from Greylock PartnersSequoia CapitalNew Enterprise Associates andSoftBank. TechCrunch has more here.


Canopy, a Boulder, CO-based venture capital firm and business accelerator for products and services companies in the legal cannabis industry, is trying to raise $50 million for a venture fund that will target growth-stage companies. More here.


LRVHealth, a nearly 18-year-old, Boston-based venture firm that was formerly known as Long River Ventures, is hoping to raise $100 million in capital commitments by the fall for its fourth early-stage venture fund. Modern Healthcare has more here.




American Express has acquired Mezi, a personal travel assistant app that helps consumers plan and book trips. The nearly three-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based company, which had raised roughly $12 million from investors (including, notably, American Express Ventures), should help Amex’s global network of travel counselors to facilitate more personalized, high-touch services for its Amex Card Members. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.


Microsoft has acquired PlayFab, a 3.5-year-old, Seattle-based maker of cloud-based tools for game developers. PlayFab had raised  $13 million in funding, including from BenchmarkMadrona Venture Group and Startup Capital Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


Software giant SAP has agreed to acquire Callidus, itself a publicly traded company that makes cloud-based sales and marketing software, for $2.4 billion, or $36 per share. TechCrunch has more here.




Ken Chenault, the outgoing CEO of American Express, has already joined the boards of Airbnb and Facebook in recent weeks. Behind the scenes, as it turns out, he also decided to join the venture firm General Catalyst as its chairman and managing director. It will be a full-time job, Chenault tells Dealbook.


Michael Mashkautsan, the former chief of staff at the National Cyber Bureau in the Israeli Prime Minister’s office, has joined London-based venture firm LocalGlobe as a partner. More here.


Meet Sunguk Moon, the CEO behind Blind, the anonymous chat app that has tech workers talking.


Pinterest has hired Chuck Rosenberg, Google’s computer vision research lead, to be its head of computer vision and lead its visual search engineering team.




Gradient Ventures, the relatively new firm within Google that’s investing in early-stage artificial intelligence start-ups, is looking to hire a principal. The job is in Mountain View, Ca.


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Founded by two MIT grads, Milwaukee-based Bright Cellars is pulling ahead as a leader in wine ecommerce. They’re powered by a proprietary algorithm that matches individual members to wines they’ll enjoy by asking questions like “how do you prefer your coffee?”. Take their quiz to learn your top four wine matches.


Essential Reads


Google is launching a digital store offering cloud-based software to companies and other organizations, its latest effort to catch cloud leaders like Amazon Web Services. Bloomberg has more here.


Facebook is banning all ads promoting cryptocurrencies — including bitcoin and ICOs.


The U.S. Department of Justice and SEC are reportedly investigating whether Appleviolated securities laws concerning its disclosures about a software update that slowed older iPhone models. Bloomberg has more here.




The worker who sent that false Hawaii alert thought the threat was real, says the FCC.


Inside the trippy, high-speed world of drone racing.



Retail Therapy


This would be very cool.


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