StrictlyVC: February 7, 2018

Happy Thursday! We love Thursdays. By the way, we’ve had a phone glued to our ear most of today, so please forgive any and all typos.


Top News


Qualcomm just told Broadcom to buzz off.


The dread that gripped equity markets earlier in the week re-emerged today as U.S.stocks plunged again on concerns that rising interest rates will drag down economic growth.


Twitter shares soared the most today since its market debut in 2013, after the company posted the first revenue growth in four quarters. The social network credited improvements to its app, efforts to fight spam, and the added video content that’s persuading advertisers to boost spending with the company.


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When It Comes to the Crypto Wealthy, Wealth Managers May be Out of Luck


It’s a half-serious joke among people who bet early on cryptocurrencies and have watched their values soar. At some point, it’s time to buy a Lamborghini, as did Peter Saddington, an Atlanta-based coder and self-described serial entrepreneur who says he cashed out 45 bitcoins last fall to purchase a $200,000 Lamborghini with race exhaust features.


Saddington tells CNBC that he paid less than $115 for the bitcoins in 2011 and that he’s been buying bitcoin every Friday for the last five years, suggesting he has more bitcoins in his possession.


In the world of cryptomillionaires, that’s diversification, and it should be worrying for wealth managers beginning to eye those whose high net worth has risen along with the price of bitcoin. Though financial advisors have converted plenty of wealthy tech founders and employees into loyal clients over the years, the largely young and male participants in the cryptocurrency gold rush seem decidedly uninterested in traditional banking and traditional money management. They’re preferring to pour their new digital riches in more cryptocurrencies and blockchain ideas — as well as the occasional impulse purchase.


“Liquidity still remains a question in many people’s minds,” says Ben Jorgensen, the chief operating officer of Constellation, a San Francisco-based outfit that describes itself as a blockchain microservice operating system. But “reinvesting into blockchain and leveraging social and technical knowledge of companies is the most popular [approach to] wealth management,” he says.


It’s not so unlike successful startup founders going on to invest in their friends’ startups, Jorgensen suggests. “Individuals are forming strong syndicates that share deal flow much like the venture world,” he offers. “Nearly the whole community is reinvesting in the industry as it’s still in its early stages, and there are brilliant companies and projects coming out the gate.”


To non-believers, it all seems like an insane gamble. In 2017, Bitcoin went from $830 to $19,300, then dropped below $6,000 this week before zooming past $8,000 again yesterday.


The broader market for cryptocurrencies is even more stomach churning. Some who are bullish on the growing number of cryptocurrencies in existence believe they could collectively pass the trillion-dollar mark this year in terms of value. Meanwhile, the head of investment research at Goldman Sachs reportedly issued a note this week comparing the current market to the “internet bubble of the late 1990s” and suggesting that most cryptocurrencies will likely “trade to zero.”


All the ups and downs can impact less certain cryptocurrency holders, some of whom have begun cashing out their stakes.


Lorraine Fox, a principal with the San Francisco-based wealth management firmAspiriant, says the firm is starting to hear from a small but growing number of people wanting to lock in their cryptocurrency gains.


More here.


New Fundings


Agrinos, a nearly nine-year-old, Oslo, Norway-based company whose biological crop inputs aim to help farmers increase and improve their yield, has raised $14.7 million in funding, including from Manor Investment SAHavfonn AS andEuroChem Group AGMore here.


Appili Therapeutics, a three-year-old, Halifax, Nova Scotia-based developer of anti-infective drugs, has raised more than $4.3 million in funding, including from Innovacorp. BetaKit has more here.


Attentive, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based personalized mobile messaging platform for e-commerce and retail businesses, has raised $13 million in Series A funding, including from Bain Capital VenturesEniac Ventures and NextView Ventures. As TechCrunch notes, the company’s founders previously founded TapCommerce, which Twitter later acquired for $100 million. More here.


Autobooks, a nearly three-year-old, Detroit, Mi.-based company that makes integrated invoicing, payment and accounting software for small businesses, has raised $10 million in funding, including from Draper TriangleBaird Capital,Detroit Venture PartnersInvest Michigan and CU Solutions Group. Crain’s Detroit Business has more here.


BurnAlong, a two-year-old, Baltimore, Md.-based streaming fitness class platform, has raised $1 million from Baltimore AngelsBrown AdvisoryMachem Capitaland Johns Hopkins UniversityMore here.

GOAT, a nearly three-year-old, Culver City, Ca.-based online sneaker marketplace, has raised $60 million in Series C funding led by Index Ventures, with participation from earlier investors Accel PartnersMatrix Partners and Upfront Ventures. The company is also merging with sneaker retailer Flight Club, which has established a reputation over its 12-year history for featuring highly rare and coveted sneakers. TechCrunch has more here.


Icertis, a nine-year-old, Bellevue, Wa.-based company that sells cloud-based contract lifecycle management software, has raised $50 million in Series D funding led by Meritech Capital Partners. Other investors in the round include PSP GrowthCross Creek Advisors and earlier backers B Capital GroupIgnition PartnersGreycroft and Eight Roads Ventures. The Seattle Times has more here.


Instacart, the 5.5-year-old, San Francisco-based grocery delivery company, is apparently raising up to $250 million in Series E funding (H/T: Axios). The company may well need the firepower, with Amazon and Whole Foods introducing free two-hour deliveries of Whole Foods products through Prime Now (in four markets). More here.


Niche, a 16-year-old, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based platform for helping people choose schools and neighborhoods, has raised $6.6 million in Series B funding co-led by Allen & Co. and Grit Capital Partners. GeekWire has more here.


ParentPowered, 1.5-year-old, Belmont, Ca.-based startup whose text messaging app texts parents of young children facts and tips on literacy, math and social and emotional skills three times a week, has raised $2.65 million in seed funding led by the Omidyar Network. EdSurge has more here.


Stadium Goods, a nearly three-year-old, New York-based consignment sneaker and apparel marketplace, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from LVMH Luxury Ventures. Footwear News has more here.

Swiggy, a nearly four-year-old, India-based food delivery company, has raised $100 million in new funding from Naspers and Meituan-Dianping. The company has now collected $255 million from investors altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


Tilray, a nearly five-year-old, Toronto-based medical cannabis research, cultivation, and distribution company, has raised a whopping C$60 million ($47.6 million) in Series A funding from undisclosed investors. Previously, the company had been solely funded by Privateer HoldingsMore here.


Zenflow, a four-year-old, South San Francisco-based medical device company whose focus is on addressing prostrate enlargement, has raised $31.4 million in Series A funding from Invus OpportunitiesF-Prime Capital Partners andMedical Technology Venture PartnersMore here.



New Funds


B Capital Group, the cross-border venture firm cofounded by Facebook cofounderEduardo Saverin, has closed its debut fund with $360 million — “substantially exceeding the original target,” the firm says. B Capital has offices in L.A., where firm cofounder Raj Ganguly is based, and in Singapore, where Saverin lives. It has also has people posted in San Francisco and New York. The Economic Times has more here.


Danhua Capital, the nearly five-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based venture firm that invests in both early and growth stage companies and whose founders have extensive networks in Silicon Valley and China, has raised $343.2 million for its second fund, shows an SEC filing. According to the document, the firm began raising the fund in 2016. More here.


Swan & Legend Venture Partners, a five-year-old, Leesburg, Va.-based investment firm known for backing many Washington area companies (it’s also a major investor in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals), is looking to raise up to $250 million for its fourth fund, shows an SEC filingMore here.


TrueBridge Capital Partners, an 11-year-old, Chapel Hill, N.C.-based asset management firm, just closed its fifth venture fund-of-funds with $450 million, it says. More here.


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BitPesa, a nearly five-year-old, Nairobi-based online blockchain payment platform, has acquired TransferZero, a Spain-based online money transfer platform. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. CoinJournal has more here.


Goldman Sachs is reportedly in discussions to acquire Clarity Money, a New York-based personal finance app that was founded by Adam Dell and focuses on monthly bills. Clarity has $14.5 million from RRE VenturesBessemer Venture Partners,Maveron and Citi Ventures. Bloomberg has the story here.


LogMeIn, the company that offers conferencing services like GoToMeeting and, says it’s acquiring Jive Communications for $342 million in cash, plus up to $15 million based on reaching specific milestones in the next two years. Jive, a 12-year-old enterprise communications company based in Orem, Utah, had raised around $31 million from investors. TechCrunch has more here.




The poet, essayist and digital civil rights pioneer John Perry Barlow passed away Tuesday night in San Francisco. Wired’s Steve Levy remembers him here.


Naomi Pilosof Ionita has joined Menlo Ventures as partner. Pilosof Ionita was most recently a VP with the mobile invoice app company Invoice2go.


Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick completed his testimony in the Uber-Waymo trial yesterday. Here’s what he had to say.


Liza Landsman, who recently left her role as president of, is joining New Enterprise Associates as a venture partner beginning this spring. She’ll be operating out of NEA’s New York office.


Lyft yesterday named Jon McNeill as its COO. McNeill was most recently Tesla’s global head of sales and service.


Former child actor-turned-crypto investor Brock Pierce is vowing to give away $1 billion.




The jobs platform Hired has published a new report about what tech workers are making where.


Essential Reads


What it’s really like to live in a “smart” home.


You can now use Alexa to create music playlists.


Amazon delivery drivers have reportedly begun entering homes unauthorized. Said one man — who was in the master suite of his four-story home, when a deliveryman walked into his bedroom: “My mind started thinking bad thoughts. What could happen? How do I protect myself? Where the hell is my gun?”


SoftBank is reportedly in talks to take a minority stake in reinsurer Swiss Re, in what would be a major expansion into financial services. More here and here.




Who’s who at the 2018 Winter Olympics.


The first clip from Wes Anderson’s new stop-motion animation “Isle of Dogs.”


Have you read this Quincy Jones interview? (You have to read it.)


Retail Therapy


The iconic Eames lounge chair and ottoman — now in mohair, too.


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