StrictlyVC: February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine’s Day! [Parisian double kiss.]


Top News


Ugh, ugh, ugh!


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New Fundings


Ditto, a year-old, Manchester, U.K.-based startup that has developed AI-powered software bots that solve queries and provide the reasoning behind their decisions to create a kind of audit trail, has raised £4 million from IP Group and Parkwalk Advisors. has more here.


Duetto, a 5.5-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of revenue optimization software for hotels (the software aims to optimize demand, maximize rates, and minimize costs), has raised $80 million in Series D funding led by funds affiliated with Warburg Pincus. Duetto’s other backers include Icon VenturesAccel PartnersBattery Ventures and Spectrum 28More here.


Frank and Oak, a 5.5-year-old, Montreal, Canada-based direct-to-consumer menswear brand, has raised $16 million in Series C funding. Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec led the round; Goodwater Capital and Investissement Québec also participated. TechCrunch has more here.


Homesnap, a 10-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based platform for up-to-the-minute real estate data, has raised $14 million in Series B funding led by Updata Partners, with participation from Moderne Ventures. The company has now raised $32 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


Jupiter, a 1.5-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based startup selling data and analytics services to better predict and manage risks generated by climate change, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Ignition Partners, with participation from seed investor Data Collective and others. The company has now raised $10 million altogether. More here.


Lumi, a three-year-old, L.A.-based startup that supplies the packaging for a growing number of direct-to-consumer e-commerce businesses, has raised $9 million in Series A funding led by Spark Capital, with participation fromForerunner Ventures and earlier backers HomebrewLowercase Ventures, andLudlow Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


Neptune Financial, 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based online commercial lending platform for mid-sized U.S. businesses, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Sands Capital VenturesMore here.


Ocean Solutions Accelerator, a new, San Francisco-based program that aims to help advance startups in tech and conservation relating to the “ocean economy,” has raised $1 million in funding from an outfit called the Pineapple Fund. TechCrunch has more here.


Overtime, a 1.5-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based sports media startup that aims to become an ESPN-like brand for high school sports, has raised $9.5 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with additional investment fromGreycroft, basketball star Kevin Durant and several other investors. Former NBA commissioner David Stern is among the company’s seed investors.Variety hasmore here.


Payfone, a 10-year-old, New York-based digital identity authentication network, has raised $23 million in funding  led by an undisclosed institutional investor, with participation from Synchrony FinancialMassMutual Ventures, and the founders of the Money20/20 conference, among others. More here.


RealWear, a 1.5-year-old, Vancouver, Wa.-based maker of a head-mounted tablet for connected industrial workers, has raised $17 million in  Series A funding led byColumbia Ventures Corporation. TechCrunch has more here.


SecFi, a year-old, San Francisco-based startup that provides financing to option holders and shareholders of late-stage private companies without forcing them to sell their shares, has raised $1 million in seed funding from Social Leverage,FJLabs and CoVentureMore here.


Spryker Systems, a 3.5-year-old, Hamburg, Germany-based startup behind a “commerce operating system,” has raised $22 million in growth equity funding led by One Peak Partners, with participation from Project AMore here.


Stealth Security, a four-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based startup that says it detects and mitigates bot attacks without affecting legitimate user traffic, has raised $8 million in Series A funding from Shasta Ventures. The company has now raised $12.5 million altogether, according to Crunchbase. TechCrunch has more here.


Templafy, a four-year-old, Copenhagen, Denmark-based SaaS company focused on enterprise governance, has raised $17.2 million in Series B funding led byInsight Venture Partners, with participation from SEED CapitalMore here.


Ucommune, a nearly three-year-old, China-based co-working space company (it had to change its name from UrWork after rival WeWork filed an infringement lawsuit against it), has raised a fresh $17.4 million at a reported $1.42 billion valuation from earlier backer Qianhai Wutong M&A Funds. China Money Network has more here.


Unacast, a three-year-old, New York-based location-based data platform, has raised $17.5 million in Series B funding led by White Star Capital, with participation from Telia and earlier investors Open Ocean Capital and Investinor. TechCrunch has more here.


Varsity Tutors, an 11-year-old, St. Louis, Mo.-based live learning platform, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by Learn Capital, with participation from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and earlier backer TCV. 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 brief survey here. Your response will remain anonymous. The survey is being conducted by Wakefield Research, an independent research firm. Thank you for your time! Follow us on Twitter: @NorwestVP


New Funds


Norwest Venture Partners, the multi-stage investment firm backed by Wells Fargo, just closed its largest fund ever with $1.5 billion, up from the $1.2 billion fund it closed in January 2016. TechCrunch has more here.




In an interview with AxiosBill Gates warns Apple and other tech giants that they risk the kind of nightmarish government intervention that once plagued Microsoft if they act arrogantly.


VC Bill Gurley thinks startup board members have grown too obsequious, he told a crowd today at the annual Goldman Sachs Internet an Technology Conference. (We would have far preferred to get his views on cryptocurrencies, but he declined to share these.)


Foursquare’s president, Steve Rosenblatt, is leaving to launch his own venture. Rosenblatt, who has spent the last six years with the location-based company, looks to be starting an early-stage investment firm or accelerator, reports Fortune.


Lisa Wu has been promoted to partner on the venture capital team at Norwest.  She joined the firm in 2012, and focuses on consumer internet, digital commerce, and next generation marketplace opportunities. Wu worked previously at Bessemer Venture Partners, where she spent roughly two-and-a-half years.




Pantera Capital, one of the first and largest institutional investors in blockchain and cryptocurrencies, is looking to hire a full-time associate. The job is in San Francisco.


Essential Reads


Hedge funds are dumping Google and Facebook.


Here’s how many Model 3s Tesla is really making.


Netflix is getting huge. But can it get great?


Should Congress to create a “crypto cop“?




The new website of “Black Mirror” will reveal your relationship’s expiration date.


Here are the new handmaid costumes for Season Two of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”


Retail Therapy


Six very expensive ways to say, “I love you. I really, REALLY love you.”


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