StrictlyVC: April 17, 2018

Hi, happy Tuesday, all.:)
Top News
A Southwest jet engine blew out in flight today, killing one passenger and making an emergency landing in Philadelphia. As the plane dropped from the sky, seemingly bound for destruction, passenger Marty Martinez, who runs a digital marketing company called Social Revolt in Dallas, bought WiFi so he could broadcast one last picture on Facebook. Bloomberg has more here. Just in time for tax day: the IRS website to make payments is down
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This Tiny AgTech Company Backed by Joe Lonsdale Thinks It Knows What Better-Funded Rivals Do Not
In November, we told you about Farmers Business Network, a social network for farmers that invites them to share their data, pool their know-how and bargain more effectively for better pricing from manufacturing companies. At the time, FBN, as it’s known, had just closed on $110 million in new funding in a round that brought its funding to roughly $200 million altogether. 

That kind of financial backing might dissuade newcomers to the space, but a months-old startup called AgVend has just raised $1.75 million in seed funding on the premise that, well, FBN is doing it wrong. Specifically, AgVend’s pitch is that manufacturers aren’t so crazy about FBN getting between their offerings and their end users — in large part because FBN is able to secure group discounts on those users’ behalf. 

AgVend is instead planning to work directly with manufacturers and retailers, selling their goods through its own site as well as helping them develop their own web shops. The idea is to “protect their channel pricing power,” explains CEO Alexander Reichert, who previously spent more than four years with Euclid Analytics, a company that helps brands monitor and understand their foot traffic. AgVend is their white knight, coming to save them from getting disrupted out of business. “Why cut them out of the equation?” he asks. 

Whether farmers will go along is the question. Those who’ve joined FBN can ostensibly save money on seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and more by being invited to comparison shop through FBN’s own online store. It’s not the easiest sell, though. FBN charges farmers $600 per year to access its platform, which is presumably a hurdle for some. 

AgVend meanwhile is embracing good-old-fashioned opacity. 

More here.
New Fundings
Agentology, a five-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based startup whose rapid response service aims to help real estate sales reps vet leads and hand off potential clients, has raised $12 million in funding led by TechCrunch has more here

Applitools, a five-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based AI-based cloud engine that aims to validate all the visual aspects of any web, mobile and native app in an automated way, has raised $31 million in Series C funding led by OpenView, with participation from earlier backers Sierra VenturesMagma Venture PartnersiAngels and La MaisonMore here.

AppOnboard, a two-year-old, L.A.-based startup that creates playable demos for mobile apps, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Korea Investment Partners, with participation from Mirae Asset ManagementMantarayMTG, and Runa Capital. VentureBeat has more here

Carpe, a nearly four-year-old, Durham, N.C.-based startup selling over-the-counter antiperspirant for sweaty hands and feet, has raised $2.3 million in seed funding led by Carolina Angel Network and Duke Angel Network, with participation fromLaunchCapitalRubicon Venture Capital, and Triangle Angel PartnersMore here

Cohesity, a five-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based data-storage company founded by Nutanix cofounder Mohit Aron, is reportedly in talks to raise at least $150 million in funding at a valuation of roughly $1 billion. No big surprise that SoftBank’s Vision Fund is said to be involved. Recode has the story here.

Drift, a four-year-old, Boston-based conversational marketing and sales platform, has raised $60 million in fresh funding led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from earlier backers CRV and General Catalyst. TechCrunch has more here, a two-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based “talent intelligence platform” has raised $18 million in Series B funding co-led by Foundation Capitaland Lightspeed Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here

Harbor, a young, San Francisco-based blockchain platform that we’d written about in February when it raised $10 million in funding, has raised another $28 million in funding. Founders Fund led the round and was joined by investors Andreessen Horowitz and Pantera Capital, as well as earlier backers Craft VenturesVy Capital, and Valor Equity Partners. TechCrunch has more here

Imperative Execution, a 1.5-year-old, Stamford, Ct.-based startup that aims to prevent high-frequency traders from eating away at the profits of stock-pickers, has raised an undisclosed amount of money from Point 72 Ventures, the venture fund of longtime hedge fund manager (and stock picker) Stephen Cohen. The WSJ has more here

Instant Financial, a 2.5-year-old, Vancouver-based “financial wellness” platform for employees, has raised $11.4 million in Series A funding led by TTV Capital, with participation from ITC Partners FundKinetic Ventures, and Real Ventures. More here

Kdan Mobile, a nine-year-old, Taiwan-based maker of cloud software for content creators, has raised $5 million in Series A funding from W.I. Harper Group,Darwin Venture Management and Accord Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

LawGeex, a four-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based maker of business contract review automation software, has raised $12 million in new funding led by Aleph, with participation from earlier backer Lool VenturesMore here

LimFlow, a 1.5-year-old, Paris-based medical device maker focused on Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI), has raised $33.5 million in Series C funding led by Sofinnova PartnersMore here

Parsley Health, a two-year-old, New York-based company that charges $150 a month for direct primary care,  has raised  $10 million in Series A funding led byFirstMark Capital, with participation from AmploTrail Mix VenturesCombineand The Chernin Group. TechCrunch has more here

Qapital, a five-year-old, New York-based personal finance management platform, has raised $30 million in new funding led by the Scandinavian mutual fund manager Swedbank Robur, with participation from other investors, includingNorthzoneMore here

QingKe, a six-year-old, Shanghai, China-based rental apartment service, has raised $100 million in funding co-led by Morgan Stanley Asia and Crescent PointMore hereScality, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based software storage firm, has raised $60 million in funding, including from Harbert European Growth Capital. VentureBeat has more here

Tempo Automation, a nearly five-year-old, San Francisco-based company that’s focused on getting quick prototypes to Bay Area tech firms looking to rapidly iterate on a design, has raised $20 million in funding led by Point72 Ventures, with participation from Dolby VenturesIndustry Ventures and Cendana Capital, along with earlier backers Lux Capital, Uncork Capital and AME. Axios has more here

Turo, the nine-year-old, San Francisco-based car-sharing marketplace, has raised $12 million in new Series D funding from American Express and Sumitomo in a move that brings the round to roughly $104 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

XpertSea, a six-year-old, Québec City-based developer of technologies aimed athelping hatcheries, farms and research centers track and manage aquatic populations with greater accuracy and speed, has raised $10 million in Series A financing. The round was led by Obvious Ventures and Aqua-Spark, and includes participation from seed investor Real VenturesMore here.
New Funds
Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet and longtime VC Nick Brown have raised their first venture fund with $75 million in capital commitments, including from billionaire mall owner Rick Caruso. The firm, Imaginary Ventures, has already made 11 investments and is looking for early-stage opportunities at the intersection of retail and technology in both Europe and the U.S. We have more on the new fund here

New Leaf Ventures, a 13-year-old, healthcare-focused venture firm, is raising up to $275 million for its fourth vehicle, according to an SEC filing. The outfit never disclosed how much it had raised for its third fund, but it was at one point targeting $375 million, according to the WSJ. More here

Parade Ventures, a Los Gatos, Ca.-based pre-seed and seed-stage firm recently formed by Shawn Merani — who’d previously cofounded and been a partner at Flight Ventures in San Francisco — is looking to raise up to $25 million for its debut fund, shows an SEC filing first flagged by Axios. Not much more here (the elephant notwithstanding).
Adobe says it has acquired Sayspring, a startup that helps developers prototype and build the voice interfaces for their Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant apps. The company says the Sayspring team will join Adobe tomorrow and that it’ll then start integrating the company’s technology into its own products. TechCrunch has more here

Carvana, an online marketplace for buying used vehicles that went public last year, is acquiring Car360, a three-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based startup that’s expected to help improve the car-buying experience through enhanced imagery. The deal cost Carvana $6.7 million in cash and another $15.2 million in stock. TechCrunch has more here

Livongo Health, the Mountain View, Ca.-based digital health startup focused on managing chronic conditions that just raised $110 million in funding last week, has acquired Retrofit, a Chicago-based online weight loss platform. Retrofit, founded in 2011, had raised $15.7 million according to Crunchbase, including from Cambia Health SolutionsHyde Park Angel Network and DFJ. American Inno has more here.
Docusign, the San Francisco-based e-signature platform, has revealed more about its IPO plans, which include selling 21.7 million shares at between $24 and $26 apiece. That band would give the company a market valuation of $3.8 billion at the mid-range. GeekWire has more here

Yet another Chinese technology company is headed for an IPO, reports Bloomberg.Meilishuo, the online fashion retailer that’s focused on women and backed byTencent Holdings, is in talks with several investment banks about a U.S. offering that could value it at about $4 billion, it says. More here.
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn is stepping down after eight years on the job. She broke the news at the Commission’s monthly open meeting, confirming the plans to move on that she has mentioned occasionally since the new administration took over. More here

Banking heir Matthew Mellon has passed away at age 54. According to Page Six, Mellon was attending a drug rehabilitation facility in Cancun, Mexico, having battled addiction issues throughout his adult life. Mellon, says the report, had most recently made a fortune in cryptocurrency, turning a $2 million investment in Ripple into $1 billion dollars. 

Myrna Soto, who has just been hired as the first female partner at Trident Capital Cybersecurity, a San Mateo, Ca.-based venture capital firm focused exclusively on digital security. Soto was previously Comcast’s chief information security officer.
Essential Reads
At Facebook, median pay tops $240,000

A former Cambridge Analytica employee meanwhile said today that the number of Facebook users whose data may have been comprised in recent years is potentially “much greater than 87 million.”
San Francisco’s terrifying seismic gamble

On a lighter note! The best comedies of 2018 (so far). 

John Mulaney’s 10 best SNL sketches.  
Retail Therapy
Boosted’s electric skateboard: now shorter and cheaper.

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