StrictlyVC: February 20, 2018

Hi, happy Tuesday.:)


Top News


Supermarket juggernaut Albertsons is buying a big part of drug store giant Rite Aid in an attempt to better compete with both Amazon and an increasingly acquisitive Walmart. The combined revenue of the two companies should also allow Albertsons to go public. The WSJ has more here.


Qualcomm today increased its takeover bid for rival chip maker NXP Semiconductors to about $44 billion in hopes of shoring up support for the deal, and to potentially fend off its own unwanted suitor, Broadcom. The New York Times has more here.


Sponsored By . . .


Today’s StrictlyVC is sponsored by Siftery Track. As a reader, get free early access to Track and easily optimize your team’s software expenditures. Simply sync your credit card or accounting system, and Siftery Track will automatically create beautiful visualizations of your historic and forecasted spend. You’ll also get alerts for new products, duplicate charges, unexpected increases in spend, and more.


New Fundings


BabelBark, a three-year-old, Newton, Ma.-based digital platform that connects pet owners with  hundreds of pet care businesses (including veterinary practices, trainers, shelters, groomers, and boarding kennels), has raised $2.8 million in Series A funding from undisclosed investors. More here.


Bind Benefits, a 1.5-old, Minneapolis, Mn.-based on-demand insurance startup, has raised $60 million in fresh funding after closing a $2.5 million. More here and here.


Dynamic Signal, a nearly eight-year-old, San Bruno, Ca.-based maker of employee communications software, has raised $36.5 million, including from Adams Street PartnersCisco InvestmentsFounders Circle CapitalMicrosoft VenturesTime Warner InvestmentsTrinity Ventures, and VenrockMore here.


Even Financial, a 3.5-year-old, New York-based company that sells data tools to online lenders, has raised $3 million in funding from American Express VenturesPlug & Play and Arab AngelsMore here.


FanDom, a 3.5-year-old, Vancouver, British Columbia-based social media platform for sports brands, organizations, and teams, has raised $3.1 million in fresh funding, shows a new SEC filingMore here.


Homie, a two-year-old, London-based startup that helps Londoners find suitable rental properties, has raised $4 million in seed funding led by Connect Ventures, with participation from VentureFriendsSeedcamp, and The Family. TechCrunch has more here.


Kidaptive, a five-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based adaptive learning company with a suite of curriculum-focused iPad games for kids, has raised $19.1 million in Series C funding led by Formation 8 and the Korean education company Woongjin ThinkBig. TechCrunch has more here.


Losant, a three-year-old, Cincinnati, Oh.-based enterprise IoT platform designed to help its customers quickly build complex real-time connected software, has raised $5.2 million in a Series A funding. CincyTech led the round; other participants include TechNexusVine Street Ventures, and Rise of the Rest fund. More here.


Lyric, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based hospitality company that designs and manages short-term rentals, has raised $15.5 million in Series A funding, including from Fifth Wall VenturesNEA, hotelier Barry Sternlicht, the founders of Casper, AXA Strategic Capital and NFX Guild. The WSJ has more here.


Molly, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that’s building AI-powered databases of people’s information, has raised $1.5 million from BBGBetaworksCrunchFund and Halogen Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


OrCam, a nearly eight-year-old, Jerusalem-based company that’s developing visual aids for the blind, has raised $30.4 million in new funding from investors, including Israel’s Clal Insurance and Meitav Dash. The company — whose wireless smart camera device attaches to the side of a pair of spectacles and reads texts and barcodes and recognizes faces while speaking the information into the user’s ear — is now valued at $1 billion. Reuters has more here.


Small Giant Games, a nearly four-year-old, Helsinki, Finland-based mobile game developer, has raised $41 million in new funding led by EQT Ventures, with participation from earlier backers CreandumSpintop Ventures, and PROfounders. VentureBeat has more here.


SparkCognition, a 3.5-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based startup that uses AI to improve the cybersecurity systems at big oil and gas and aerospace companies, has raised $24 million in additional Series B funding. (The company had separately raised $32.5 million in Series B funding last June.) It has now garnered $63.6 million in funding altogether. AustinInno has more here.


Tagnos, an eight-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based company whose hospital software platform features several front-end applications around patient and asset tracking, has raised $5.8 million in funding, shows a new SEC filing that lists a $6.3 million target. More here.


Tunity, a 4.5-year-old, New York-based startup whose free app enables users to hear mute TVs (including at sports bars, gyms, airports, waiting rooms, or even at home), has raised $12 million in Series A funding, including from former Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack and WeWork CEO Adam NeumannMore here.


Weed, a 12-year-old, Tucson, Az.-based legal and medical marijuana holding company that oversees eight for-profit divisions, has raised $11.6 million in funding, shows a new SEC filingMore here.


xMatters, a 17-year-old, San Ramon, Ca.-based maker of incident management software, has raised $40 million in Series D funding led by Goldman Sachs Private Capital Investing. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds


Pantera Capital, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based investment firm and hedge fund focused exclusively on ventures, tokens, and projects related to blockchain tech, digital currencies, and crypto assets, says it’s raising its third blockchain fund and seeking up to $175 million. It hopes to close the fund by mid-June.


Quake Capital, a nearly two-year-old, New York-based accelerator and seed fund, is raising a $30 million second fund, it says. The outfit closed its debut fund last year with $18 million. More here.


TechOperators Venture Capital, a nine-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based venture firm that specializes in growth-stage opportunities, is looking to raise $100 million for a third venture fund, according to an SEC filing that shows it has already secured $40.2 million in commitments. The firm is fun by former entrepreneurs Dave Gould, Glenn McGonnigle, Tom Noonan and Said Mohammadioun. More here.




The Adecco Group, a global HR services firm headquartered in Switzerland, announced today that it has acquired Vettery, a four-year-old, New York-based online hiring marketplace. The financial terms were not disclosed, but a source with knowledge of the deal tells TechCrunch that Adecco paid a little more than $100 million (likely in some combination of cash and stock). According to Crunchbase, Vettery had raised roughly $12 million, including from GreycroftLightbank, and Raine VenturesMore here.


New Matter, a 3.5-year-old, Pasadena, Ca.-based maker of mid-range 3D printers, is shutting down this month, the victim, apparently, of waning consumer interest in anything but the most affordable products in the category. The company had raised $6.5 million in venture funding from investors, including Dolby Family VenturesFirst Round Capital, and Alsop Louie Partners. TechCrunch has more here.


Oracle says it’s acquiring Zenedge, a 3.5-year-old Aventura, Fla.-based cybersecurity company. Terms aren’t being disclosed. Zenedge had raised roughly $13.7 million in venture funding, including from TELUS VenturesUnion Bay Partners, and Pilot Growth EquityMore here.


China’s largest personalized news app Toutiao has reportedly acquired a three-year-old, augmented reality-based selfie app called Faceu for $300 million. It isn’t clear how much Faceu had raised. China Money Network says it raised an undisclosed amount of both seed and Series A funding, including from IDG Capital and Lightspeed China Partners. It reports the company was later rumored to have raised $50 million from Toutiao itself, though neither company has ever confirmed as much.




Arcus Biosciences, a nearly three-year-old, Hayward, Ca.-based biotech that’s developing immunotherapy drugs, has filed to raise $100 million through an IPO. The firm posted revenue of $1.4 million and loss of $53.1 million last year. Its biggest outside shareholders include GVForesite Capital, and The Column Group. Nasdaq has a bit more here.


German conglomerate Siemens said yesterday that it plans to sell shares in its health care division — Siemens Healthineers — to public shareholders in the first half of the year. The offering, in which Siemens will retain a majority stake, could be one of Europe’s biggest IPOs in years. CNN has more here.




Jeff Bezos is funding a 500-foot-tall clock that’s powered by thermal cycles and meant to outlast the United States. He calls it a “symbol for long-term thinking.” Watch it come together here.


Amy Errett, the founder and CEO of hair color company Madison Reed, has been named venture partner with True Ventures. Errett was previously a special advisor with True, which is an investor in her company. (In fact, firm cofounder Jon Callaghan told us a couple of years ago that True had authorized Errett to write checks on its behalf.) More from Callaghan here.


Facebook’s VP of global public policy, Joel Kaplan, would like you to please forget the tweets of his colleague, Rob Goldman, the company’s VP of ads, whose diatribe about the Mueller investigation was picked up by Donald Trump this past weekend. In a statement published Sunday night, Kaplan wrote: “Nothing we found contradicts the Special Counsel’s indictments. Any suggestion otherwise is wrong.”




The Kapor Center for Social Impact is looking to bring aboard four summer associates to review and analyze pitch decks, among other things. The jobs are in Oakland, Ca.


Essential Reads


Meet Chronicle, Alphabet’s latest moonshot.


Say hello to Google Pay.


Spotify is on its way to creating its first physical products.


One of the world’s largest hedge funds, Elliott Management has described in three pages its negative view of cryptocurrencies in a fourth-quarter letter to clients, calling them “one of the most brilliant scams in history.”




Seven breakout trends from London Fashion Week.


Elmore Leonard’s rules for writers.


A peek at Chris Rock’s new Netflix special, “Tamborine.”


Retail Therapy


Please never buy this shower curtain.


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