StrictlyVC: February 13, 2018

Hi,  all! We’ve at a Startup Grind event and in between a few interviews so shooting out SVC to you before we get caught up in the next talk. Today’s issue is a little abbreviated, as you might notice, but more tomorrow. Happy Tuesday.:)


Top News


Apple CEO Tim Cook told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting today to expect higher dividends and stressed that succession planning is a priority.


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 everything from cap table management to complex valuation engagements.


This Former Uber and Lyft Exec Just Landed $15M in Funding for Bird, a Controversial E-Scooter Startup


Travis VanderZanden. If you’ve been following the fast-changing transportation industry, it’s a name that may sound familiar. Until September 2016, VanderZanden was VP of growth at Uber and before that, COO of its fierce rival Lyft, which had acquired his on-demand car wash company, Cherry, in 2013.


It was a dramatic few years for VanderZanden, once he joined the ride-hailing race. Not only were his employers experiencing growing pains, but Lyft sued him for allegedly breaking a confidentiality agreement when he joined Uber, with the two sides later settling for undisclosed terms. Little wonder that after leaving Uber, VanderZanden wanted to take some time off to decompress with his wife and two daughters.


That was the idea, anyway. The thing is, VanderZanden, whose mother drove a public bus for 30 years, says he couldn’t stop thinking about transportation. Within six months, he was testing out different short-range electric vehicles. By last summer, he’d quietly launched his newest company, Bird.


Now, VanderZanden’s dockless electric scooter company is the talk of Santa Monica, Ca., where it’s based. That’s largely because over the last six months, Bird has plunked roughly 1,000 “Birds” on the streets of the city — and people are riding them: 50,000 people so far have taken 250,000 rides, he says.


But Bird, which just moved into Westwood and is easing its way into San Diego, also has local officials in all three places somewhat flummoxed — and not entirely delighted. A Washington Post piece published Saturday characterizes Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer as highly irked that VanderZanden reached out to him — via a LinkedIn message — after putting Bird’s scooters on the streets.


The message reportedly offered to introduce Winterer to Bird’s “exciting new mobility strategy for Santa Monica.”  Winterer says he responded: “If you’re talking about those scooters that are out there already, there are some legal issues we have to discuss.”


Legal issues and other complications, as it turns out. For example, according to that same Post story, local police officers issued 97 citations involving Bird scooters in the first six weeks of this year; the city’s fire department has responded to eight related accidents, some including minors and adults; and according to a senior marketing and communications manager for downtown Santa Monica, there have been numerous complaints of the scooters being left in front of doorways, in the middle of driveways and on wheelchair ramps.


Despite outward appearances, VanderZanden suggests he hasn’t stolen from the playbook of his last employer, which under the leadership of longtime CEO Travis Kalanick taught employees to ask forgiveness — not permission.


He paints a rosier picture of that exchange with Winterer, for example.


More here.


New Fundings


HackerRank, a 5.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based platform that helps companies evaluate technical talent based on skills, has raised $30 million in Series C funding led by JMI Equity, with participation from earlier backers Khosla Ventures,Battery VenturesRandstad Innovation Fund, and Chartline Capital Partners. The company has now raised $58.2 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


InfluxData, the startup built on top of the open source time series database platform, has raised $35 million in Series C funding led by Sapphire Ventures, with participation Harmony Partners and earlier backers Battery Ventures,Mayfield Fund and Trinity Ventures. The company has now raised nearly $60 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


Loopio, 3.5-year-old, Toronto, Canada-based maker of  RFP (request for proposal) response software, has raised $9 million in Series A funding led by the expansion-stage firm OpenViewMore here.


Perception Point, a nearly three-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based cybersecurity firm, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Pitango Venture Capital, with participation from State of Mind Ventures and Korea Investment Partners.More here.


UJET, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that makes software to improve customer support, has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by GV, with participation from Citi Ventures and earlier backers Kleiner Perkins and DCM Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


Sponsored By . . .


Are you an entrepreneur, startup founder or CEO? We want to hear about your company-building journey! Norwest Venture Partners invites you to participate in a brief opinion survey. The survey is being conducted by Wakefield Research, an independent research firm, and all responses will remain anonymous. Thank you for your time!


New Funds


Southeast Asia has a new venture capital fund on the scene after Victor Chua, formerly a vice president at Gobi Ventures, launched Vynn Capital.The Kuala Lumpur-headquartered venture is founded by Chua and Singaporean Darren Chua, previously with IE Singapore, and it’s looking to raised $40 million in capital commitments. TechCrunch has more here.


Essential Reads


Get ready for the long goodbye to car culture, many domestic flights, and insurance premiums.




Now people are using FaceApp to see what they’d look like as a person of the opposite gender.


You’ll never love songs so much as the songs you loved at 13.


The case for the self-driven child. (Amen.)


Why we are quitting StrictlyVC to become AI experts instead.


Retail Therapy


Dress like a postman. This look also works you’re young and English and planning a bank heist with your friends per what we’ve learned in movies.



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