StrictlyVC: March 26, 2018

Happy Monday from Lake Tahoe! (Spring break.) It isn’t clear how much time we’ll have this week, but if you also happen to be here and want to grab coffee, let us know.


Also, quick mention: our phone is borked right now after being unceremoniously dropped on the road. With the screen cracked, no one can hear us, we’re discovering, so don’t call unless you want to hear, “______________.”


We’re mostly online today, fwiw.:)


Top News


Shares of Facebook cratered as much as 6 percent today after the Federal Trade Commission announced that it’s investigating the company’s data practices in the wake of that Cambridge Analytica leak of 50 million users’ information. CNBC has more here.


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General Catalyst is among other firms that are right now raising their biggest funds ever — again


It happened in 2016, and it’s happening like clockwork again in 2018: venture firms are closing new funds with more money than they ever have before, just two years after closing their most recent funds with more money than they’d ever raised.


Last week, you may have caught wind that Khosla Ventures is raising up to $1.4 billion across an early-stage fund and gigantic seed fund. Battery Ventures also recently upped the ante, raising a fresh $1.25 billion across two funds. Meanwhile, Sequoia Capital is reportedly looking to raise $12 billion across a series of funds. (As the second-largest shareholder of newly public Dropbox, that pursuit just became easier, we’d imagine.)


Don’t expect the announcements to stop any time soon. Just today, the SEC processed paperwork showing that 18-year-old General Catalyst has closed a$1.375 billion fund, a vehicle that seemingly combines both the firm’s early- and growth-stage investments. That’s a huge leap over the capital commitments that General Catalyst circled in early 2016, when it closed a pair of funds with $845 million.


We’d expect a host of firms that closed their most recent funds around the same window in 2016 to be trotting out their own mega funds in short order. (Think Andreessen Horowitz, Accel Partners, Founders Fund, and Lightspeed Venture Partners, among others.)


Whether the trend is a reflection of the natural evolution of venture capital, or a race off a cliff, will play out over time.


More here.


New Fundings


Calm, a 5.5-year-old, London-based meditation app that Apple recognized last year as “app of the year,” is reportedly raising $25 million in new funding at a $250 million valuation led by Insight Venture Partners. The startup has raised just $1.5 million in seed funding to date. CNBC has the story here.


Candex, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose collaboration apps manage payments between companies and their vendors, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding from Edenred Capital PartnersPartech Ventures,Advisors.FundCamp One VenturesNFXTekton VenturesBig Sur Ventures and Mark Goines, an executive at Personal Capital. More here.


Manbang Group, an Uber-like truck-hailing company that was created last November after China’s top two truck-calling apps Huochebang and Yunmanman merged, is reportedly looking to raise between $500 million and $1 billion in fresh funding, and SoftBank is (ahem) kicking the tires. Reuters has the story here.


Myriota, a three-year-old, Adelaide, Australia-based company that aims to create an internet-of-things communications network by developing a number of projects across a diverse range of sectors, from black box-type recorders for soldiers to water tank monitors for farmers, has raised $15 million in Series A funding. Main Sequence Ventures and Blue Sky Venture Capital co-led the round, with participation from Boeing HorizonX VenturesSingtel Innov8 and Right Click CapitalMore here.


Nebanan, a nearly three-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based social network for neighborhoods, has raised €16 million ($19.8 million) in Series A funding led by BurdaPrincipal, with participation from LakestarDeutsche TelemedienNWZ, and pd venturesMore here.


Valohai, a two-year-old, Turku, Finland-based machine learning platform-as-a-service company, has raised $1.8 million in funding led by Superhero Capital, with participation from Reaktor Ventures and Business FinlandMore here.


Wizeline, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based company that designs digital products for its customers, has raised $43 million in Series B funding led by Apax DigitalMore here.


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New Funds


Quona Capital, a New Delhi, India-based venture firm that’s right now investing out of its $142 million second fund, is marketing a third fund that it hopes to close with up to $200 million, a founding partner tells the Economic Times. Accion, the global non-profit that’s focused on fintech, is one of Quona’s anchor investors and will remain an anchor investor its next fund, says the report. More here.




Smartsheet, a 13-year-old, Seattle-area company that helps Fortune 500 customers manage and automate key work processes — including the ability of employees to collaborate on projects across sales, marketing, and other corporate functions — filed to raise as much as $100 million through an IPO. It’s the first filing for an IPO for a tech company in the Seattle region this year. GeekWire has more here.


Spotify goes public next week. Today, it told Wall Street how it expects to do for 2018.




Cake Technologies, a 2.5-year-old U.K.-based fintech startup that wanted to make it more convenient to pay your restaurant or bar bill, was quietly acquired late last year for $13.3 million by American Express, reports TechCrunch. The young startup had raised a total of £4.5 million in equity and £1.4 million in debt, according to its sources. More here.


Coinbase may be on the verge of its biggest acquisition yet, though it wouldn’t be a great outcome for investors in the company being gobbled up. According to Coindesk, Coinbase, which has raised more than $225 million in venture funding to date, is in talks to acquire five-year-old,, formerly known as, for $30 million in cash (says one source) or (says another source) closer to $120 million, when factoring in cash, cryptocurrency, stock and an earn-out. Headed by Balaji Srinivasan, invites users to earn digital currency for replying to emails and completing tasks and has raised at least $121 million, including from Founders FundData CollectivePantera Capital, and Andreessen Horowitz, where Srinivasan worked briefly as a general partner.




Six months after going public, Roku shares are trading at more than double their listing price and tomorrow presents the first chance for directors, executive officers and some other large holders to sell their stakes in the video-streaming pioneer.


Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on the Cambridge Analytica scandal and why Facebook didn’t take action years ago: “We didn’t realize the gravity of the issue sooner.”


Nathan Sanders, who joined Technology Crossover Ventures in 2014 after spending seven years with Bain Capital, has been named COO of the firm in a newly created position in which Sanders will oversee TCV’s finance, marketing, HR and IT functions.




Online advertisers are expected to outspend TV advertisers by $40 billion this year.


Essential Reads


Twitter is the latest social service to boot out cryptocurrency advertisers.


Uber is selling its Southeast Asia business to rival Grab in Singapore in exchange for 27.5 percent of Grab’s business — and that’s a win for Uber, not a defeat, says TechCrunch.


Lerer Hippeau Ventures, the New York-based early-stage venture firm, is taking over the $125 million debut fund created by Binary CapitalMore here.


The toxic Superfund sites of Silicon Valley.





The Sunday Times of London talks with Elon Musk’s mysterious estranged father, including about the baby he recently fathered with his, gulp, stepdaughter.


How to make your own Wes Anderson soundtrack.


The politics of waxing.


Retail Therapy


How to make enemies and offend people. (Upside: you might outlive them.)

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