StrictlyVC: May 2, 2018

Hi, everyone, happy Wednesday.:)

We’ve been typing away while on calls today, so if you see any major screw-ups, that’s why. (We’re not so great at multitasking.) 

Also! We have a couple of announcements coming up about SVC events. Stay tuned.
Top News
Tesla just beat analysts’ expectations. More here in TechCrunch. 

Cambridge Analytica, the data firm that worked for Trump’s 2016 campaign, is shutting down following disclosures about its use of Facebook data and the campaign tactics it pitched to clients. The WSJ has more here.
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A CEO Known for the ‘Power of Smiling’ was Ousted Yesterday for Intimidating Employees
Ron Gutman, the co-founder and CEO of HealthTap, a venture-backed medical advice startup, was reportedly elbowed out today by his board of directors. The reason, the board said in a letter to employees, was that it had finally heard too many complaints about Gutman’s behavior inside the company. 

Recode published the news of his termination earlier, along with excerpts of an explainer provided to Gutman that alleges he “committed acts of intimidation, abuse, and mistrust, and that [he] repeatedly mistreated, threatened, harassed and verbally abused employees.” 

“This leaves us with no choice but to fire you,” reads the letter. “The toxicity you introduced into the workplace ends now.” 

The development may seem curious to those who followed Gutman’s earlier career. Back in 2011, Gutman was on the TED speaking circuit, talking passionately about the power of smiling and attracting a great deal of publicity in the process. His presentation has been watched nearly five million times; it later spawned a book, published by TED, called Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act

Gutman, a Stanford grad, has denied that he abused his employees in a public statement.

 More here.
New Fundings
BenchSci, a  three-year-old, Toronto-based developer of an AI-powered search engine for biological products, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by iNovia Capital, with participation from Gradient Ventures and earlier investorsGolden Venture PartnersAfore CapitalReal Ventures and Radical VenturesMore here

C2RO Cloud Robotics, a two-year-old, Montreal-based startup that uses cloud-based AI services to augment the cognitive and collaborative capabilities of service robots, has raised $1.1 million in seed funding led by Harbor Street Ventures, with the participation of Fonds InnovExportTandemLaunch Ventures and several angel investors. More here

Humu, a year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based behavioral change software startup co-founded by ex-Googlers Laszlo Bock and Wayne Crosby, has raised $30 million in Series B funding led by IVP, with participation from earlier backer Index Ventures. Forbes has more here

iBeat, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based health tech company whose smartwatch perpetually monitors and analyzes users’ heart activity, has raised another $5.5 million in seed funding, bringing the total round to $10 million. New investors include Kairos8VCCity Light CapitalPlug and Play VenturesChinaRock Capital Management, as well as numerous angel investors, including renowned life coach Tony Robbins. VentureBeat has more here

Parallel Domain, a 10-month-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based startup that says its virtual world tech can enable the large-scale training and testing of driverless cars before they hit public roads, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding co-led by Costanoa Ventures and Ubiquity Ventures, with participation from RRE Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here

Soft Robotics, a six-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based industrial robotics company whose soft robotic gripping systems can grasp, manipulate, and conform to items with the same dexterity of the human hand, has raised more than $20 million in funding round led by Hyperplane Venture Capital, with participation from Scale Venture Partners, the venture capital arm of Honeywell International, and earlier investors, including ABB Technology Ventures. The WSJ has more here

Soothe, a five-year-old, L.A.-based message-on-demand service, has raised $31 million in Series C funding from the late-stage and growth capital investment firm,The Riverside Company. TechCrunch has more here

Washé, a three-year-old, Boca Raton, Fla.-based startup whose mobile app connects users to on-demand mobile car washers, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding led by a local tech entrepreneur and investor named Ron Zuckerman. More here.
New Funds
Fusion Fund, a four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based early-stage venture outfit that closed its first fund with $17 million, says its looking to raise up to $85 million for its second fund. TechCrunch has more here.
Birchbox, the subscription beauty-in-a-box startup, has sold the majority of its business to earlier investor Viking Global Investors for roughly $15 million, says Recode. The deal, which keeps cofounder and CEO Katia Beauchamp at the helm and preserves the jobs of its employees (for now), means earlier investors  are getting wiped out, reports Recode. Birchbox, which had earlier held talks with Walmart and QVC, among other potential buyers, had previously raised $90 million altogether. 

Cisco is acquiring Accompany, a five-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based startup that uses AI to build databases of people and relationships at companies. Cisco is paying $270 million in cash and stock and plans to incorporate Accompany’s tech into its collaboration products. Accompany had raised roughly $40 million, including from Cowboy VenturesCRV, and Iconiq Capital. Its founder and CEO, Amy Chang, was notably on the board of Cisco, a role that she is resigning as a part of the transaction. (Local Bay Area readers might have caught Chang’s appearance at an SVC event early last year in San Francisco, soon after she’d become a director.) TechCrunch has more on the sale here

Nokia says it plans to sell its small digital health business, including activity trackers and smartwatches, to a co-founder of the venture after it failed to meet the company’s growth expectations. Reuters has the story here.
Last night, at his L.A. mansion, Jim Belushi charmed a crowd of diners with jokes and harmonica playing. But the actor and comedian wasn’t there as the entertainment: He was on a mission to promote cannabis entrepreneurs

In an unusual move for a Silicon Valley company, Zynga chairman Mark Pincus has given up voting control of the social gaming company he founded more than a decade ago. (You might remember that Pincus had an unusual degree of voting control to start with.)  

Pritzker Group Venture Capital has brought aboard three venture partners: Pat Basu, David Schonthal, and Craig Wortmann. More here. Former

Twitter M&A executive Jess Verrilli is headed to GV to become the firm’s newest (and only) female general partner.
Essential Reads
Wall Street doesn’t like Spotify‘s first-ever earnings report.

Amazon is reportedly offering to pass along the discounts it gets on credit-card fees to other retailers if they use its online payments service. The move is consistent with Amazon’s penchant for sacrificing profitability in order to grow

A four-year-old outfit, Nikola Motor Company, has filed a $2 billion lawsuit in Arizona alleging that Tesla’s all-electric semi infringes on the hydrogen truck startup’s patents. 
Photos by Stanley Kubrick. 

There will be a season three of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” If you can take it

Why an expert in counterterrorism became a beat cop. C

hristie’s new AR app can help you visualize where to hang priceless works of art.
Retail Therapy
This is the final straw

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