StrictlyVC: March 29, 2018

Happy Thursday, all.:) We’re still here in Tahoe, where it’s sort of boiling suddenly but still beautiful. We’re headed back tomorrow so SVC may be a little short (but sweet!).


Top News


Donald Trump lashed out at Amazon in a tweet earlier, one day after the company’s stock tanked following a report that said he wants to “go after” the e-commerce giant for alleged antitrust violations. “Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!” he wrote on Twitter.


As CNBC notes, Amazon does collect sales tax from consumers in 45 states and Washington, D.C. The WSJ relatedly reports that Amazon spent $13.5 million on federal lobbying last year—more than five times the $2.5 million it spent in 2012.


Meanwhile, the family of the woman killed by an Uber self-driving vehicle in Arizona has reached a settlement with the company, ending a potential legal battle over the first fatality caused by an autonomous vehicle. Terms aren’t being disclosed, as you might imagine. Reuters has more here.


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The U.S. IPO Market Just Had its Best Quarter in Three Years


The U.S. IPO market had its best quarter by proceeds in three years, according to the IPO research company Renaissance Capital.


That kind of momentum has seemingly set the stage for some big names in tech to march onto the public market in the second quarter.


Forty-three companies raised a collective $15.6 billion through their IPOs, says Renaissance, though not all were tech deals. One was the IPO of security company ADT, which had been taken private in early 2016 in a $6.9 billion leveraged buyout by the private equity group Apollo Global Management. As MarketWatch noted at the time of ADT’s January IPO, Apollo continues to own a majority of the company’s shares, meaning it’s a “controlled company” where Apollo is still basically in charge.


Another big, non-tech IPO was that of Hudson, operator of the Hudson “travel essentials” and bookstores found at airports across the U.S. and Canada. Hudson is also a controlled company that remains majority owned by a parent company, Dufry AG of Switzerland. In fact, Dufry earmarked all the proceeds from Hudson’s IPO ($750 million) to pay down its own debt.


Neither of their IPOs performed terribly well. Hudson priced at the low end of its proposed range in January and its shares started to sink almost immediately. ADT’s shares are also trading below their offering price.


More here.


New Fundings


BetterUp, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based leadership app that pairs expert coaches with employees at all levels, has raised $26 million in Series B funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers DFJFreestyle Capital and Crosslink CapitalMore here.


Cubigo, a six-year-old, Netherlands-based tech startup aimed at addressing the senior living market, has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding led by Urbain Vandeurzen, with participation from Transvision. TechCrunch has more here.


Eco-Site, a six-year-old, Durham, N.C.-based wireless tower and infrastructure platform, has raised $90 million in fresh funding, including $30 million in equity from Atlanta-based MSouth Equity Partners and a $60 million credit facility from an unnamed Chicago-based asset manager. More here.


Electric AI, an 18-month-old, New York-based IT outsourcing startup, has raised $10 million in funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from earlier investors Bowery Capital and Primary Venture Partners. BuiltinNYC has more here.


Flipside Crypto, a nine-month-old, Boston-based startup whose platform will recommend which cryptocurrencies to buy, has raised $3.4 million in funding led by True Ventures, with participation from The Chernin GroupResolute Ventures,Boston Seed CapitalConverge and Founder Collective. BostInno has more here.


FoodLogiQ, an 11-year-old,  Durham, N.C.-based maker of food safety and traceability software, has raised $19.5 million in new funding from TestoTyson VenturesPontifax AGTechNicola Wealth Management and Greenhouse Capital. Xconomy has more here.


Goop, the 10-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based wellness media and e-commerce company founded by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, has raised $50 million in Series C funding at a $250 million valuation. Investors in the round include New Enterprise AssociatesLightspeed Venture Partners and Felix Capital. The round brings Goop’s total outside investment to $82 million. TechCrunch says home furnishings may be in its future.


Scotty Labs, a new, Menlo Park, Ca.-based startup that’s building software to let humans control cars remotely, has raised a $6 million round led by Gradient Ventures, with participation from Horizon Ventures and Hemi Ventures. Company cofounder and CEO Tobenna Arodiogbu was previously an entrepreneur-in-residence at SRI International. Bloomberg has more here.


SpyCloud, a two-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based account takeover prevention startup, has raised $5 million in Series A funding from earlier backers Silverton Partnersand March Capital PartnersMore here.


Streem, a year-old, Portland, Or.-based startup that connects home service professionals to their customers through intelligent video streaming (you film your broken appliance and the electrician receives all kinds of data about it, for example), has raised $2 million in fresh funding. Investors include Archivist CapitalOregon Venture Fund, and Portland Seed Fund, as well as earlier backers. The company has now raised $3.7 million altogether. More here.


Tempest Therapeutics, a seven-month-old, San Francisco-based company that’s advancing four small molecule therapeutics, has raised $70 million in Series B funding led by original backer Versant Ventures, with participation from F-Prime CapitalQuan CapitalLilly Asia VenturesForesite Capital and Eight Roads Ventures. Xconomy has more here.


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New Funds


AngelPad, an eight-year-old, San Francisco- and New York-based accelerator program that has launched more than 140 companies across 11 different “classes,” is raising a new, $50 million venture fund, according to a new SEC filing that shows it has closed on at least $35 million already. TechCrunch has more here.


Breakout Labs, a San Francisco-based program that’s underwritten by renowned investor Peter Thiel and that in 2011 began offering nascent science-focused startups up to $350,000 in funding with no strings attached, is upping its check size. According to a new Medium post, it’s now offering grants of up to $500,000.


Noah Heller, who left his role as the VP of partnerships and emerging tech at Hulu last November to create a seed-stage fund called 3Rodeo, is raising $3 million, shows a new SEC filing. (We don’t think that number is a coincidence, though we also don’t know if that’s all Heller plans to raise for now.) The firm has characterized the capital pool as a private equity fund, not a venture fund. More here.


Ridge Ventures, the 10-year-old, San Francisco-based early-stage venture firm previously known as IDG Ventures USA, is raising its fourth fund shows a new SEC filing that doesn’t list a lot of info. The outfit had closed its third fund with $120 million in 2015. More here.


U.S. Venture Partners, the 37-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based venture fund is raising up to $300 million for its twelfth fund, shows an SEC filing. The firm had raised roughly $280 million for its eleventh fund in 2015. More here.




Warner Music Group has acquired Sodatone, a two-year-old, Toronto, Ontario-based data analytics platform that tracks streaming, social media, touring and play-listing data in order to unearth emerging talent. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. It isn’t clear from a quick online search whether Sodatone ever raised outside funding. Billboard has more here.




Cruise Automation, the self-driving arm of General Motors Co., said CTO A.G. Gangadhar is departing after less than half a year. In an email to Bloomberg, he cited disagreements with Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt as the reason he’s out the door, but Bloomberg notes that his tenure was also dogged by public complaints about his alleged role in fostering a work environment that was inhospitable to women when he worked at Uber.


Lior Ron, co-founder of Otto, the self-driving truck company Uber acquired, is leaving the company, says CNBC. More here.


Snap is laying off around 100 employees within the advertising and sales department, after laying off 100 people from the engineering department earlier this month. TechCrunch has more here.


Twenty-six women of color who are diversifying entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley, media, and beyond, in Vanity Fair.




Bumble, the popular dating app, and Match Group, which owns another popular dating app, Tinder, are in the midst of a messy fight: The latest: Bumble filed a lawsuit late yesterday claiming that Match — which tried to buy Bumble late last year — interfered with its business operations. Now it wants $400 million in damages.


Last year, three female software engineers at Uber filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, saying its compensation practices were discriminatory. The suit, which represented a class of 420 employees, was just settled for $10 million, says Recode.




Rocket Internet’s venture arm Global Founders Capital is looking to hire an associate. The job is in San Francisco.


Essential Reads


The Saudis and SoftBank are planning the world’s largest solar project.


Amazon may launch a bank account aimed at teens.


The tech industry wants its brain-computer interface projects “to feel like a magic trick” but it’s really a “rigorous and potentially painful scientific process” that involves animal testing, says Gizmodo.




The world’s most expensive painting cost $450 million because two Arab princes bid against each other by mistake.


Crazy that it comes to this again, but thanks, New York Times.


Westworld is coming back in a few weeks, too. (Woot!) Here’s it official season two trailer.


Retail Therapy


When you like your waffles stuffed.


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