StrictlyVC: February 21, 2018

Hi, all!  Quick reminder that we’re now less than a week away from our first INSIDER event of 2018! We are *so* excited to see many of you, including guest speakers Vlad Tenev of Robinhood, Caterina Fake of Yes VC, Ryan Williams of Cadre, Tina Sharkey of Brandless, Marten Mickos of HackerOne, Medha Agarwal of Redpoint, and Kate Conger of Gizmodo.


Huge thanks again to New Enterprise Associates for generously offering to host this event. Much thanks, too, to the global law firm Morrison Foerster (MoFo), which works with startups at every stage, and Anduin, cofounded in recent years by Joe Lonsdale and Alin Bui to help companies close their private market transactions. We greatly appreciate their support.


Tickets are no longer available but we promise lots of coverage afterward; we’re also hoping to host another of these in the spring if we can swing it. In the meantime, happy Wednesday.:)


Top News


Bitcoin fell as much as 12 percent today, whipsawing investors who thought they could finally take a deep breath after last month’s volatility.


Despite surpassing analyst expectations for the quarter, digital streaming business Roku disappointed Wall Street when it shared its fourth-quarter earnings after the bell today; its shares fell roughly 18 percent in after-hours trading as a result.


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.


This Outfit Just Raised $18 Million Expressly to Bring Israeli Founders to the U.S.


The micro venture firm UpWest Labs was founded nearly six years ago in Palo Alto with one mission in mind: to bring Israeli founders to the U.S. when their companies are still nascent and provide them with enough financial and other resources to get going.


Why do this? UpWest’s founders, Shuly Galili and Gil Ben-Artzy, say it’s because startups can lose their shot at greatness if they aren’t exposed fast enough to U.S. customers — and U.S. investors.


The two came to this conclusion in their past lives, before they became investors. Galili had spent the previous 12 years as executive director at the California Israel Chamber of Commerce, often working to drum up the interest of U.S. companies and VCs in Israel-based companies.

She says she saw plenty of money in the ecosystem but a lack of understanding about the customers that Israeli companies were hoping to target, including in the U.S. “I always asked myself why founders weren’t spending more time here,” says Galili. “And the answer for a lot of them was that they couldn’t.”


Ben-Artzy, who’d moved from Israel to the U.S. to attend Wharton and later worked in corporate development and operations at Yahoo, saw the same in his job, he says.


A growing number of limited partners seems to buy into their vision of writing early, $250,000 checks to fledgling startups that want to head to California — as well as giving them a place to crash for a while. (The firm rents out a home in Menlo Park where founders can live until they’re able to get and running.)


More here.


New Fundings


4me, a nearly eight-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based startup that helps companies organize and track their IT outsourcing projects, has raised $1.65 million in seed funding led by Storm Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


Anyfin, a year-old, Stockholm-based startup that enables consumers to refinance their existing loans by sending in a picture of their monthly credit card bills or loan statements, has raised $5.9 million in Series A funding co-led by Accel Partners and Northzone, with participation from Global Founders CapitalMore here.


Capillary Technologies, a 10-year-old, Singapore-based maker of customer engagement software for retail customers, has raised $20 million from earlier investors, including Warburg Pincus and Sequoia Capital. The Economic Times has more here.


Carlease, a nearly five-year-old, Chicago-based startup that lets consumers lease cars without leaving the house, has raised $3.5 million in funding led by Lightbank. Built in Chicago has more here.


DecaWave, a 14-year-old, Ireland-based fabless semiconductor company, has raised $30 million in funding led by Atlantic Bridge Ventures, with participation from the China Ireland Growth Technology FundACT Venture Capital, and ZZ VenturesMore here.


Fever Labs, a 5.5-year-old, New York-based maker of an event discovery app, has raised $11.7 million in new funding, according to an SEC filing first flagged by Axios. More here.


FourKites, a 3.5-year-old, Chicago-based freight tracking and logistics tech company, has raised $35 million in Series B funding led by August Capital, with participation from Bain Capital Ventures and Hyde Park Venture Partners. The WSJ has more here.


Gabi, a two-year-old San Francisco-based online personal insurance shopper, has raised $9.5 million in Series A funding led by Canvas Ventures. Also joining the round were Correlation VenturesNorthwestern Mutual Future VenturesSecurian Ventures and earlier investors A.Capital Ventures and Project A. TechCrunch has more here.


Greenlight Financial Technology, a four-year-old Atlanta, Ga.-based maker of a smart debit card for kids and teens, has raised $16 million in Series A funding led by TTV Capital with participation from New Enterprise AssociatesRelay VenturesSunTrust BankAlly Financialnbkc bankCanapi, and the Amazon Alexa Fund. We profiled the company last year, when it was just a snuggly little seed-stage startup.


Intello, a months-old, Queensland, Australia-based SaaS optimization startup, has raised $1.3 million in seed funding led by Emerge, with participation from BoxGroupBlacktopKaedan and Tectonic, along with numerous angel investors, including The Muse founder Kathryn Minshew. TechCrunch has more here.


Mabl, a year-old, Boston-based startup aiming to make functional testing for developers as easy as possible, has raised $10 million in Series A funding from CRV and Amplify Partners. TechCrunch has more here.


Moovit, a six-year-old, Israel-based maker of a public transit app, has raised $50 million in Series D funding led by Intel Capital, with participation from Sequoia CapitalBMW iVenturesNGPSound VenturesBRMGeminiVaizra,Vintage, and Hanaco. Forbes has more here.


Prophesee, a nearly four-year-old, Paris-based machine vision startup at work on sensors and camera systems, has raised $19 million in Series B funding led by an undisclosed investor, with participation from 360 Capital PartnersSupernova Invest, iBionextIntel CapitalRenault Group, and Robert Bosch Venture Capital. has more here.


Signal, the seven-year-old encrypted chat app, has raised $50 million in funding from WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton and simultaneously launched the newly founded Signal Foundation nonprofit. TechCrunch has more here.


Templarbit, a year-old, San Francisco-based cybersecurity startup formed by former engineers at the bug-hunting startup Synack, have raised $3 million in funding led by 205 Capital, with participation from Y Combinator and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Fortune has more here.


Thirdpresence, an 11-year-old, Helsinki, Finland-based AI-driven programmatic video advertising company, has raised $2.4 million in seed funding, including from Inventure and Tesi. has more here.


Vectra Networks, a seven-year-old, San Jose, Ca-based security platform that identifies cyber-attacks while they are happening, has raised $36 million in fresh funding led by Atlantic Bridge Capital, with participation from Ireland Strategic Investment FundNissho Electronics Corp., and earlier backers Khosla VenturesAccel PartnersIA VenturesAME Cloud VenturesDAG Ventures and Wipro Ventures. The company has now raised $123 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


Zagster, an 11-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based bike-share service, has raised $15 million in new funding led by Edison Capital Partners. TechCrunch has more here.



New Funds


Singapore-based Insignia Ventures Partners, founded by former Sequoia Capital venture partner Yinglan Tan, has closed its debut fund with $120 million less than a year after Tan left Sequoia, sources tell DealStreet Asia. The outlet says it’s the “largest ever maiden vehicle by a venture capital firm in this region.” More here.




Ganesh Bell, former chief digital officer at GE and CEO at GE Power Digital, will become president of the Chicago-based startup Uptake later this month, reports Reuters. As readers might recall, Uptake was founded several years ago by Groupon cofounders Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky.


Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes explained yesterday in a Reddit AMA what “The Social Network,” the film about the company’s early years, got right and wrong.


Jeff Schumacher is stepping down as CEO of BCG Digital Ventures and will become non-executive chairman of the firm, according to Axios.


Venture-backed Vox Media is laying off 50 staffers, while The Atlantic, newly backed by Laurene Powell Jobs, is looking to hire 100 new employees.




Gallup just released survey information that suggests Americans aren’t so excited about self-driving cars as Silicon Valley might imagine. Roughly 54 percent of those surveyed said they’re unlikely to use self-driving cars; 59 percent said they’d be uncomfortable riding in self-driving cars; and 62 percent said they’d be uncomfortable sharing the road with self-driving trucks. More here.



Essential Reads


Amazon’s startup fund is betting on an Alexa-everywhere future, reports Fast Company. But The Information warns that there are risks for startups that take its money.


Crytpocurrency: The Hail Mary pass for people who missed the tech boom.




Oat milk’s humble ascent.


The ultimate Craigslist nightmare.


“Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler breaks down a fight scene.


Retail Therapy


Two words that can help get you an airline upgrade over the phone: “Revenue management.” Here’s why.


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