StrictlyVC: February 9, 2018

Friday! [Uppercut. Counterpunch.] We’ve been crazed today with both work and non-work, so we’re having to shoot out an abbreviated version of SVC today, but more Monday!


Also, a quick, exciting note: Vlad Tenev, the cofounder and CEO of the commission-free trading platform Robinhood, has joined the already amazing line-up of speakers for attendees of our first StrictlyVC event of 2018. Unfortunately, we’re essentially out of seats, and because of space constraints, if you do not have an Eventbrite, you won’t be allowed into the venue. (Our hosts at NEA can’t mess around with this, owing to building codes.) We do promise to feature plenty of coverage from the night so that you those of you who can’t make it don’t miss out.


Thank you, Mofo and Anduin for partnering with us on the evening and helping to make the whole thing possible!


Hope you have a wonderful weekend, everyone.:)


Top News


That was fast. Uber has reached a settlement agreement with Alphabet over its lawsuit against the ride-hailing company claiming theft of trade secrets. As part of the deal, Uber will pay Alphabet the equivalent of $245 million in equity. Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi went so far as to called Alphabet a “partner.” As Recode notes, the engineer at the heart of the lawsuit, Anthony Levandowski, was expected to be called by Alphabet’s attorneys this morning.


We like New York Times reporter Daisuke Wakabayashi’s take on things. “Gotta say this whole thing was played pretty well by Google,” he tweeted earlier. ” 1) Embarrass a potential competitor 2) An unspoken warning to current/former employees about walking out w Google info 3) a small (additional) chunk of Uber — “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”


Gizmodo also has an interesting look at some of the horse trading that happened behind the scenes.


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New Fundings


Apical Technology, a brand-new, Carlsbad, Ca.-based portfolio of artificial intelligence technologies that was formed by NextWave Ventures, a venture firm that specializes in commercializing early-stage tech, has raised an undisclosed amount from NextWave. More here.


CultureIQ, a nearly five-year-old, New York-based maker of “cultural engagement” software for employers, has raised $2.25 million in funding, including from Pritzker Group Venture CapitalLerer Hippeau Ventures and Founder CollectiveMore here.


Grove, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based personalized financial planning platform, has raised $2.1 million in funding, including from First Round Capital,Lowercase CapitalUpside PartnershipSV AngelCFSI, and Jake Gibson. TechCrunch has more here.


Honest Buildings, a 5.5-year-old, New York-based maker of construction management software, has raised $8 million in new Series B funding. Oxford Properties Group led the new tranche, with participation from The Durst Organization and DivcoWest Real Estate Investments. The Real Deal has more here.


MineralSoft, a 3.5-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based software company focused on mineral rights and royalty management, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by Cottonwood Venture Partners, with participation from Blue Bear Capitaland Y CombinatorMore here.


Property Brands, a Knoxville, Tn.-based company that sells a SaaS platform focused around property management to multifamily, single family residential, student housing, and affordable housing companies, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Insight Venture PartnersMore here.


Syndesi Therapeutics, a new, Belgium-based neurology drug discovery startup, has raised €17 million in first-round funding from V-Bio VenturesNovo Nordisk,Fountain HealthcareWalloon Investment FundVIVES Louvain Technology Fund and Johnson & JohnsonMore here.



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Tencent Holdings is investing $474 million in Shanda Games, the China-based online gaming company. The move, says Reuters, is designed to boost Tencent’s lead in the local video game market.


Toyota will invest $69 billion in JapanTaxi, a Japan-based Uber-like service. Toyota is also an Uber investor and it previously backed JapanTaxi via $4.5 million investment from its Mirai Creation Fund. TechCrunch has more here.




Mary Grove, a founding director of Google for Entrepreneurs, is joining the investment firm Revolution as a partner on its startup initiative Rise of the Rest.


Nest co-founder Matt Rogers announced yesterday that he’s leaving the smart home company now that it’s rejoining Google. The plan: to focus on his venture firm


Jennifer Salke was named the new head of Amazon Studios today, ending a nearly four-month search that began when Roy Price was ousted after a sexual harassment allegation.


Essential Reads


Amazon is preparing to launch a delivery service for businesses, positioning it to directly compete with UPS and FedEx.


Uber’s tangled relationship with investors Didi and SoftBank is about to get more complicated after the duo inked an agreement to introduce taxi-hailing services that will compete directly with Uber in Japan.


SpaceX aims to make history three more times this year.


Did you know: Snapchat almost acquired the anonymous app Secret (but shhh, it was too expensive).


A sleeping Alexa can listen for more than just her name.




Timothy Affleck (father to Ben and Casey) on Hollywood: It’s a “disgusting place.”


The games have officially begun.



Retail Therapy


Louis Vuitton sneakers: $1,090 a pair. Not for the flat-footed, apparently.


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