StrictlyVC: March 21, 2018

Hi, happy Wednesday, all!


Top News


“I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I’m responsible for what happens on our platform.” So wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook a bit ago in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal that broke on Friday. Though Zuckerberg didn’t say what’s taken Facebook so long to better protect its users’ privacy, he laid out a slate of changes Facebook will make to prevent past and future abuses of user data by app developers. More here.


Google is working on blockchain-related technology to support its cloud business and head off competition from emerging startups that use the heavily-hyped technology.


Uber just rescinded a job offer it made to Amazon’s top voice-shopping VP, Assaf Ronen, to become its top product exec, after it discovered a discrepancy related to Ronen’s tenure at the e-commerce giant.


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One of the Youngest Venture Fund Managers in the U.S. Now Has an Accelerator, Too.


Last August, we told you about Laura Deming, a New Zealand native who was home schooled before moving halfway around the world as a 12-year-old to work alongside Cynthia Kenyon, a renowned molecular biologist who specializes in the genetics of aging.


She didn’t stay long. At age 14, Deming began her college career at MIT. When she turned 16, she dropped out to join Peter Thiel’s  two-year-old Thiel Fellowship program, which gives $100,000 to young people “who want to build new things.” By last August, when we profiled Deming, she had closed on $22 million in commitments for her second venture fund, which supports aging-related startups. She was 23.


Because Deming has always had an intriguing relationship with time, we weren’t all that surprised when she reached out to us late last week to let us know her San Francisco-based venture firm, The Longevity Fund, has now established a new accelerator program — one with backing from famed investor Marc Andreessen, the early-stage venture firm Felicis Ventures and other, unnamed investors.


Deming isn’t disclosing how much money will be invested through the accelerator, called Age 1, but she does say the pool of capital is distinct from the money she’s investing with Longevity Fund. She also says that Andreessen, Felicis and her other backers will serve as mentors to the companies that pass through the program.


Other notable details about Age 1: Deming says that she and her advisors — including serial entrepreneur Elad Gil, who most recently co-founded the genomics testing company Color Genomics — will be “quite flexible” when it comes to the stage of applicants. She says the bigger idea is to help them get to a significant “value inflection point” within four months, which is how long the program runs.


Instead of accepting startups serially, Age 1 will work with small batches of startups — between three and five at a time — and it’s accepting them right now on a rolling basis, with plans to present them to an invite-only group of investors on October 5 in the Bay Area. (Startups can apply here.)


More here.



New Fundings


17Zuoye, a seven-year-old, Beijing, China-based online education platform, has raised $250 million in new Series E funding led by Temasek, with participation fromCITIC and earlier investor Shunwei CapitalMore here.


AllyO, a two-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based AI-driven recruiting startup, has raised $14 million in funding led by Bain Capital Ventures, with participation fromCervin VenturesGradient Ventures and Randstad Innovation Fund.


Averon, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based developer of an automated mobile security platform, has raised $5 million in Series A1 funding co-led by Avalon Ventures and Salesforce CEO Marc BenioffMore here.


CareWorx, a 12-year-old, Ontario, Canada-based company that sells hardware, cloud products and related services to senior care facilities, has raised $17 million in funding, including from Kayne PartnersMore here.


Chargebee, a seven-year-old, Walnut, Ca.-based maker of SaaS subscription management and recurring billing software, has raised $18 million in Series C funding led by Insight Venture Partners, with participation from Accel Partnersand Tiger Global ManagementMore here.


Clari, a six-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based maker of sales software, has raised $35 million in new funding led by Tenaya Capital, with participation from Thomvest VenturesBlue Cloud Ventures and earlier backers Sequoia CapitalBain Capital Ventures and Northgate CapitalMore here.


CoEdition, a six-month-old, New York-based online clothing marketplace for women who are size 10 and above, has raised $4 million in seed funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from General CatalystPrimary Venture Partners, and BBG VenturesMore here.


CommonBond, a six-year-old, New York-based online student lender, has raised $50 million in Series D funding led by Fifth Third Capital Holdings, with participation from First Republic BankColumbia Seligman InvestmentsNeuberger BermanAugust CapitalNyca Partners, former Citigroup CEOVikram Pandit, and former Thomson Reuters CEO Tom GlocerMore here.


CryptoKitties, a year-old, Vancouver-based virtual collectible kitten game that turned into a viral sensation, has raised $12 million in funding co-led byAndreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures. TechCrunch explains the likely attraction here.


DJI, a 12-year-old, Shenzhen, China-based consumer drone-maker, is raising between $500 million and $1 billion at a $15 billion valuation, says The Information. DJI’s most recent round, closed in 2015, valued the company at $10 billion. More here.


Eden Health, a three-year-old, New York-based personal health platform, raised $4 million in seed funding led by Greycroft Partners, with participation from PJC,Max Ventures and 645 VenturesMore here.


Fauna, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based NoSQL database for mission-critical data, has raised $25 million in Series A funding from Capital One Growth VenturesGVPoint72 VenturesAfore Capital and Costanoa VenturesMore here.

HomeCaptain, a New York-based real estate platform that aims to help mortgage lenders increase their funding rates on pre-qualified/pre-approved home buying customers, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by Spring Mountain CapitalMore here.


Pairwise Plants, a gene-editing, San Diego-based agricultural company cofounded by a professor of chemistry and biology at Harvard, has raised $25 million in Series A funding co-led by Deerfield Management and Monsanto Growth Ventures.More here.


Virsec, a five-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based cybersecurity company focused on advanced memory-based attacks, has raised $24 million in Series B funding led by BlueIO, with participation from Artiman VenturesAmity VenturesRaj Singh, and Boston Seed CapitalMore here.



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Let’s keep this short: If you’re a startup or nonprofit that offers a solution that could improve financial health — even if early stage —  you should apply to the Financial Solutions Lab before April 11. More: Lab Impact ReportLaunch BlogChallenge DetailsApplication.


New Funds


Anterra Capital, a Boston and Amsterdam-based venture capital firm that funds startups focused on the global food system, says it has raised $200 million in capital commitments. The outfit is backed by Rabobank and Eight Roads (a Fidelity backed outfit that itself closed a new fund yesterday). More here.


Elephant, a three-year-old, Boston-based, early-stage venture firm led by Warby Parker cofounder Andy Hunt and Jeremiah Daly, formerly an investor with both Accel Partners and Highland Capital Partners, has raised $250 million for its second fund, reports Axios. Elephant’s debut fund closed with $156 million in 2015. More here.


Silicon Valley venture capital firm Khosla Ventures is raising up to $1 billion for its sixth fund, and a separate $400 million for a seed fund, show SEC filings flagged earlier by Axios. Giant seed funds are apparently a thing now, though this one is really a doozy. You might remember that Sequoia closed a $180 million seed fund in January.




Dropbox, the 11-year-old, San Francisco-based cloud storage and collaboration platform, today raised the proposed deal size for its upcoming IPO. It now plans to raise $684 million by offering 36 million shares at between $18 to $20, up from an original range of $16 to $18. At the high end of that revised range, Dropbox will command a fully diluted market value of $9 billion, an 18 percent increase from its original midpoint. Renaissance Capital has slightly more here.




Google is acquiring Lytro, a 12-year-old imaging startup that began as a ground-breaking camera company for consumers before pivoting to use its depth-data, light-field technology in VR. The price tag, say TechCrunch sources: $40 million, far less than the $215 million that investors had poured into the company. More here.


HelloFresh, the Berlin-based meal-kit delivery company that went public in Europe last fall, has agreed to acquire Green Chef, a 3.5-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based meal kit company that had raised $70 million from investors, including TA VenturesNew Enterprise AssociatesGlobal Venture CapitalGreenspring Associates and TriplePoint Venture Growth. The Denver Post has more here.


Pandora says it’s acquiring digital audio ad technology firm AdsWizz for $145 million, with at least half that paid in cash. AdsWizz’s software handles a range of things, from dynamic ad insertion to ad campaign monitoring and will be used to upgrade Pandora’s own ad tech capabilities. TechCrunch has more here.




Brian Acton, the co-founder of messaging service WhatsApp — which Facebook bought in 2014 for $19 billion — joining the chorus of the #deletefacebook movement yesterday in a tweet that left jaws hanging. “It is time,” he wrote. More here. (Incidentally, if you want to delete Facebook, here’s how.)


Twitter’s chief information security officer, Michael Coates, is leaving the company to start his own company, says The Verge.


Ousted Uber cofounder and CEO Travis Kalanick is back — not just with a new investment vehicle, but as a CEO, too. His new company is focused on redeveloping distressed real estate. More here.


Tesla shareholders just approved what may be the largest compensation deal in history CEO Elon Musk. If successful, the award could end up being worth more than $50 billion — enough to keep Musk from moving to Mars any time soon, speculates Bloomberg.


Zagster, a bike-share startup that raised a $15 million round last month, has laid off some employees, TechCrunch has learned. CEO Tim Ericson attributes the downsizing to Zagster’s recent shift from docked to dockless bikes. More here.





Correlation Ventures in San Francisco is hiring a venture associate. This is a pre-MBA role, it says.




YouTube just became the top-grossing iPhone app in the U.S. for the first time today, after flirting with the top spot a number of times over the years, but never reaching higher than No. 3. More here.


Essential Reads


For one brief shining moment, Yahoo was the king of all it surveyed. Then everything went to hell.




The story of a little gay bunny who belongs to Vice President Mike Pence is the best-selling book on Amazon right now.


It’s now easier for your boss to read your Slack DMs.


America’s 60 best day hikes.


Retail Therapy


Here’s your jeans should fit in 2018 if you are a dude. (We aren’t judging. We’re just relaying what we’ve heard/read.)


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