StrictlyVC: March 12, 2018

Happy Monday!:) No column today. (Lots o’ calls.)


Top News


Lyft said today that its revenue is growing nearly three times faster than that of Uber.


Sponsored By . . .


better electric toothbrushQuip was created by dentists and designers to guide the good habits that matter — starting at $25. Brush heads ($5) are delivered for an automatic refresh every three months. Get your first refill free.


New Fundings


BioCatch, a seven-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based behavioral biometrics company, has raised $30 million in funding led by Maverick Ventures, with participation from American Express VenturesNexStar PartnersKreos CapitalCreditEase,OurCrowd, and JANVEST Capital. TechCrunch has more here.


Epsagon, an eight-month-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based company that sells automated end-to-end performance monitoring tech for serverless architectures, has raised $4.1 million in seed funding from Lightspeed Venture PartnersStageOne Ventures and Stratoscale founder Ariel Maislos. has more here.


Gousto, a nearly six-year-old, London-based online meal kit company, has raised £28.5 million ($39.6 million) in new funding, including from Hargreave Hale,Angel CoFundMMC Ventures and BGF Ventures. The round brings the company’s total funding to date to £56.5 million. More here.


KIXEYE, a nine-year-old, San Francisco-based developer of online combat strategy games, has raised $20 million in funding led by Icon Ventures, with participation from Ridge VenturesTrinity Ventures, and Lightspeed Venture Partners.


NSLComm, a six-year-old, Israel-based startup whose antennas aim to optimize currently available satellite communications technologies, has raised $6.25 million in Series B funding, including from Jerusalem Venture PartnersLiberty,OurCrowdHawk GF, and Cockpit Innovation. SatNews has more here.


Rent the Runway, a nine-year-old, New York-based company that enables women to rent apparel and accessories, has raised $20 million in strategic funding fromBlue Pool Capital, a financial firm that principally invests the wealth of Alibaba founders Jack Ma and Joe Tsai. According to Recode, Blue Pool invested on the same terms as the company’s Series E investors, at a post-money valuation of between $750 million and $800 million. More here.


Scout Exchange, a five-year-old, Boston, Ma.-based platform for marketplace recruiting, has raised a whopping $100 million in funding — all from TRI Ventures, the investment vehicle of staffing industry veteran John Chuang. Xconomy has  more here.


TurnKey, a nearly five-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based full-service vacation rental property management company, has raised $31 million in Series D funding led by current investor Adams Street Partners, with participation from Altos Ventures(also a previous backer) and two new, unnamed institutional investors. The company has now raised $72 million altogether. More here.


Unearth, a two-year-old, Seattle, Wa.-based software startup that uses drones and aerial images to create interactive site maps for large-scale commercial and civil construction projects, has raised $3 million in funding led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from Vulcan Capital. GeekWire has more here.


Voci Technologies, a 10-year-old, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based startup that sells speech-to-text transcription and analytics to  companies, has raised $8 million in Series B funding co-led by Grotech Ventures and Harbert Growth Partners.


New Funds


Singapore’s Golden Gate Ventures is raising a $100 million third fund to continue investing in Southeast Asia’s burgeoning market for e-commerce, payments and mobile apps, according to Bloomberg. More here.


Math Venture Partners, a Chicago-based early-stage firm, is raising upwards of $39 million for its second fund, according to an SEC filing first flagged by Axios. The two-partner outfit had closed its debut fund with $28 million in 2015.


Sofinnova Partners, the 46-year-old Paris-based venture capital firm that specializes in life sciences, has closed a new, €125 million ($154 million) fund to back industrial biotechnologies, with a focus on startups in Europe and North America.


Sponsored By . . .


Ah, retirement. The Golden Years of Seemingly Unanswerable Questions. Are you saving enough? Will you outlive your money? Turns out that Matt Carey has given this a lot of thought. His company, Blueprint Income, calls itself the “first digital retirement plan that guarantees you won’t run out of money.” As it happens, Blueprint Income was part of the Financial Solutions Lab’s 2017 class. Want your startup to be the next Answerer of Seemingly Unanswerable Questions? Apply todayto be part of FinLab’s next class — selected companies get $250K+ more.




Apple is making an acquisition that could help it lay out a position as a purveyor of trusted information; it’s acquiring nine-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based Next Issue Media, whose app Texture is a virtual magazine newsstand that offers readers access to around 200 magazines for a monthly fee of $9.99. TechCrunch has more here.


Publicly traded Nutanix is acquiring Netsil, a San Francisco-based application discovery and operations management company that had raised $5.7 million, including from Mayfield FundPlug and PlayMoment Ventures andEngineering Capital. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. ZDNet has more here.




Dropbox disclosed in a filing today that it will sell new shares in its IPO at between $16 and $18 a share, meaning it will be valued at  $7 billion at the high end of the range — $3 billion less than the valuation the storage company was assigned when it raised its last round of private funding in 2014. More here.




Jeff Bezos may be plugging more into space travel than previously imagined.  “I’m in the process of converting my Amazon lottery winnings into a much lower price of admission so we can go explore the solar system,” Bezos said Saturday night in New York, accepting the Buzz Aldrin Space Exploration Award at the Explorers Club Annual Dinner. Notes Bloomberg of the appearance: “Bezos previously said he’s funding [his reusable] rocket company Blue Origin to the tune of $1 billion a year through the sale of Amazon stock. His comments at the event suggest that may be only the start of his financial commitment to the project . . .”


Matt Brennan has joined General Catalyst as a partner. Brennan, based in New York, had spent the previous five years as a principal with Bain Capital Ventures and the three years before that with Insight Venture Partners.


Paige Craig, founder of the L.A.-based seed-stage venture firm Arena Ventures, has joined Bird, the L.A.-based scooter company that just raised $100 million in fresh funding, as its head of U.S. city operations. Craig told Fortune in January that Arena Ventures was hitting the pause button. It sounds now like he has closed up shop entirely to focus full-time on his new gig.


Change is coming to Vice Media, where cable giant Nancy Dubuc is in “advanced talks” to assume the CEO role from co-founder Shane Smith, says Variety. More here.


Venture capitalist and lifelong Democrat Josh Kushner has quietly donated $50,000 to March for Our Lives, Axios reported over the weekend. (More here on March for Our Lives, a student-organized rally for gun control that’s taking place in Washington on March 24.) Kushner’s older brother Jared is, of course, Donald Trumps’s son-in-law and for now a White House senior advisor.


Jon Miller, a longtime digital media exec, is working with the private equity fund TPG to gobble up digital media properties, ostensibly making them more valuable by consolidating their sales and back-office operations. Recode has more here.


Vincent Ramos, the founder and CEO of Canada-based Phantom, has been charged and arrested by the FBI with racketeering conspiracy. According to the agency, his company removed the microphones and cameras of Blackberry and Android devices as part of a sales process to violent international criminal organizations. Gizmodo has more here.


Goldman Sachs said this morning that co-president Harvey Schwartz would retire, potentially clearing the way for his fellow president and co-chief operating officer,David Solomon — who moonlights as D.J. D-Sol — to become the company’s next chief executive when CEO Lloyd Blankfein leaves the bank. Dealbook has more here.


Wave Capital, started by veterans of Airbnb, is looking to invest in their former colleagues.


Essential Reads


SoftBank is positioning itself to invade Wall Street’s turf, too.


YouTube thinks you want extremist content, so that’s what it’s giving you.


Reddit and the quest to de-toxify the internet.




John Oliver explains Bitcoin the way that only John Oliver can explain things.


Why you don’t see people-sized salmon any more.


Retail Therapy


Famed former spy Christopher Steele uses one of these, a “pouch, of military-tested double-grade fabric, designed to block signal detection.” Should you need something like it for your own phone(s).


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