StrictlyVC: July 17, 2018

Hello again, and happy Tuesday! Quick mention: Programming continues for our upcoming StrictlyVC INSIDER event on Tuesday night, September 25th in San Francisco. We have one new founder team about which we are very excited and you will be, too, though we can’t announce them just yet.

In the meantime, thanks to our generous partners in the evening: Norwest Venture Partners, which is hosting us at its beautiful South Park;  KCPR, a boutique public relations and strategy firm specializing in venture capital and startup clients founded by Silicon Valley publicist Kelsey Cullen; and MobSquad, a company that’s helping U.S.-based companies win the war for engineering talent by creating remote teams of high-caliber software engineers in Canada.  

It’s going to be fun night. If you haven’t nabbed a seat yet, don’t wait too long. More than half our spots are already gone.
Top News
Americans may soon be able to get cholesterol-lowering medications and other widely used prescription drugs without seeing a doctor, judging by a draft guideline that was outlined earlier today by the FDA

Bitcoin is ticking up again, and it’s pulling up the price with top coins with it.
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Connie Chan Breaks the Mold at Andreessen Horowitz
Connie Chan has made such an impact on her colleagues at Andreessen Horowitz  (a16z) since joining the firm in 2011 that today, they’re announcing Chan’s appointment to general partner.

It’s a big deal for the Sand Hill Road venture firm for numerous reasons. First, Chan becomes just the second woman in the firm’s nine-year history to be appointed to the role of general partner. As readers may recall, a16z announced the first female general partner in its history late last month, bringing aboard former federal prosecutor Katie Haun to help lead its new cryptocurrency fund. 

According to Jeff Jordan — himself an a16z general partner and the former CEO of OpenTable — the nine-year-old firm has also never before promoted someone from within to the post of general partner, instead pulling in people like Jordan himself with senior operating experience. (Jordan also distantly held posts as the president of PayPal, the CFO of Hollywood Entertainment, and the CEO of 

The “policy was not to promote internally,” says Jordan. Yet such thinking has changed recently as 16z has grown and the operating functions that it uses to support its portfolio companies have matured. Indeed, when it came to Chan, a Stanford alum who logged four years with the private equity firm Elevation Partners and another two years in product management roles at HP and Palm, a lack of direct experience in scaling a business was eventually outweighed by her ability to identify and support talented founders, Jordan says. 

He credits Chan, for example, with the firm’s initial investment in the digital scrapbook site Pinterest. “It wasn’t a contentious discussion, but Connie really pounding the table is what led to our investment in the company,” he says. 

Pinterest was most recently valued at more than $12 billion. When a16z led a $27 million round in the company back in 2011, it was reportedly valued at $200 million. 

Chan also brings to the table two other things desperately needed at Andreessen Horowitz and ever other U.S. venture firm: an understanding of China’s market and key contacts there. 

More here.
New Fundings
AdQuick, a two-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based startup that helps customers buy and sell outdoor advertising services, has raised $2.1 million in Series A funding led by Initialized CapitalMore here

Blast, a 1.5-year-old, Newport Beach, Ca.-based outfit that wants to give users a way to save money while playing video games, has raised $7 million in funding, including from self-help guru Tony Robbins, the fintech investment firm CreditEase, and RX3, an investment fund based in Orange County, Ca. TechCrunch has more here

Dialpad, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of cloud-based business phone software, has raised $50 million in Series D funding led by Iconiq Capital. Other investors in the round include earlier backers Andreessen Horowitz, AmasiaScale Venture PartnersSection 32 and Work-Bench. TechCrunch has more here

Didi Chuxing, the China-based ride-share giant, has accepted a $500 million strategic investment from Booking Holdings — formerly known as Priceline — which will now offer Didi’s on-demand car services through’s apps, including Kayak and OpenTable. TechCrunch has more here

K Health, a two-year-old, New York-based app that uses AI and anonymized health records to augment the diagnoses of health problems after a user inputs his ore her symptoms and answers a series of questions, has raised $12.5 million. Investors in the round include Comcast VenturesBessemer Venture Partners, and Mangrove Capital Partners. Crunchbase News has more here

Mention Me, a five-year-old, London-based referral marketing platform, has raised $7 million in funding led by Eight Roads Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

Mosa Meat, a five-year-old, Maastricht, Netherlands-based lab-grown meat company, has raised $8.8 million in funding led by Merck’s venture capital arm, M Ventures, and Swiss meat processor Bell Food Group. According to the WSJ, it is Merck’s first investment in the food industry. More here.

Naadam, a five-year-old, New York-based luxury cashmere brand, has raised $16 million in Series A funding led by Vanterra Capital, with participation from Torch Capital, U-Start ClubTrail Post Ventures and Plug & Play VenturesMore here

Get Spiffy, a 1.5-year-old, Raleigh, N.C.-based on-demand car wash and maintenance service, has raised $9 million in funding led by Bull City Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers, including IDEA Fund Partners. More here

Openpath,  a three-year-old, Culver City, Ca.-based remote access company that’s focused on the way that people enter and secure their workplaces, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Emergence Capital, with follow-on from all existing investors. More here

Presage Biosciences, a 10-year-old, Seattle, Wa.-based cancer biotechnology company that works with oncology-focused pharmaceutical companies to identify novel drug combinations, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series D funding led by pharmaceutical companies Takeda and Celgene. The company also has a new CEO. More here

TowerIQ, a 1.5-year-old, Boston-based communication platform for the insurance market, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Hyperplane VC, with participation from Vestigo Ventures and Clocktower VenturesMore here

TVision Insights, a four-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based developer of a facial recognition technology to analyze television viewer behavior, has raised $11.5 million in funding led by Accomplice and Jump Capital. Broadcasting & Cable has more here

Verge Genomics, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based neurological drug discovery startup, has raised $32 million in Series A funding led by DFJ, with participation from WuXi AppTecALS Investment FundAgent Capital and OS Fund. Xconomy has more here

Verodin, a four-year-old, McLean, Va.-based software company that says it dynamically assesses the cumulative effectiveness of its customers’ entire security portfolios, has raised $21 million in Series B funding co-led by TenEleven Ventures and Bessemer Venture PartnersMore here

Yitu Technology, a six-year-old, Shanghai, China-based artificial intelligence outfit that was cofounded by a UCLA PhD in statistics and a former senior expert with Alibaba cloud computing, has raised $100 million in fresh funding just one month after announcing $200 million in Series C funding last month. The company says the money is being tacked on to that earlier round and comes from China Industrial Asset Management. The company’s other backers include Sequoia Capital, Hillhouse Capital Group, and Banyan Capital. China Money Network has more here.  

Zoox, a four-year-old, Foster City. Ca.-based self-driving car startup, is closing a $500 million round of new funding at a $3.2 billion post-money valuation, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. Prior to the deal, Zoox was valued at $2.7 billion, Zoox tells TechCrunch. More here.
New Funds
AP Ventures, a new, London-based venture capital firm that’s focused on funding tech companies that use the characteristics of platinum group metals, has launched with $100 million, including from the mining company Anglo American Platinum and the government owned investment manager The Public Investment Corporation. The two are cornerstone investors. More here

Crosslink Capital, the 29-year-old, San Francisco-based stage-agnostic investment firm (it invests in both private and public companies), has raised $275 million for its eighth fund, it announced yesterday. The firm’s past venture bets include Pandora, Coupa, Casper and Postmates. More here

High Alpha, an Indianapolis, Ia.-based venture studio and early-stage venture fund, says it has raised more than $100 million to expand the scope of its current operations. Crunchbase News has more here.
Dataroma, a six-year-old, New York-based AI-powered marketing intelligence platform, has been acquired by Salesforce for reportedly more than $800 million in cash. The company had raised $50 million from investors, including Lightspeed Venture PartnersInnovation EndeavorsMarker, and Cedar Fund. AlleyWatch has more here

Publicly traded LendingTree is acquiring Student Loan Hero, an Austin, Tex.-based personal finance website that helps student loan borrowers manage student debt, for $60 million in cash. American Inno has more here

Publicly traded Ultimate Software is acquiring French startup PeopleDoc for $300 million in cash and stock. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter. Both companies make HR software. PeopleDoc had raised $50 million from investors. TechCrunch has more here.
Cango, an eight-year-old, Shanghai, China-based used car marketplace, has revealed plans to sell 12.5 million shares at $10 to $12 per share to public shareholders. The company, which will trade on the NYSE, counts as its biggest outside shareholders Warburg PincusDidi Chuxing, and TencentMore here

Endava, an 18-year-old, London-based provider of outsourced IT development services,  says it plans to sell 5.6 million shares at between $17 and $19 apiece in an upcoming IPO. It also plans to trade on the NYSE. More here

Focus Financial Partners, a 14-year-old, New York-based wealth management firm, says it plans to offer 16.2 million shares at a price range of $35 to $39 in an upcoming IPO in the $600 million range that it will stage on Nasdaq. More here.

Pinduoduo, a three-year-old, Shanghai, China-based discounted e-commerce site that’s focused on group buying (and which competes with Alibaba and, plans to sell 85.6 million shares in its upcoming stateside IPO at between $16 and $19 per share. Its biggest outside shareholders are TencentBanyan Capital andSequoia Capital. Reuters has more here

Pintec Technology, a five-year-old, Beijing, China-based online platform that connects businesses with financial services companies, has revealed plans to raise $70 million in an IPO on Nasdaq. Its biggest shareholders include Ventech China and Xiaomi Ventures. China Money Network has more here

Urovant Sciences, a London-based urological diseases firm that’s among the newest “vants” of holding company Roivant (whose founder and CEO spoke at one or our SVC events last year), has filed for an $150 million IPO. FierceBiotech hasmore here.
Jeff Bezos is now the richest CEO in modern history. 

“It’s cool to be smart in Silicon Valley. It’s not cool to be smart on the West Side of Detroit.” — TaskRabbit CEO Stacy Brown-Philpot talking with the New York Times

Serial entrepreneur and angel investor Elad Gil has just published a new manual for late-stage companies called The High Growth Handbook. We talked with him about it here

Scott Heiferman, the CEO and cofounder of 15-year-old Meetup, which sold last year to WeWork for a reported $200 million, is becoming chairman of the community-building startup. More here.
Essential Reads
Instead of forcing their VC backers to go on waiting for a good outcome, some founders of many years-old startups are choosing to end that uncertainty by buying out early investors

Instagram has started more widely testing the ability to manually remove followerswith a few taps.
Inside America’s last Blockbuster

The secret rooms hotels don’t tell you about

Bohemian Rhapsody” (the official trailer of the movie, which we are definitely seeing).
Retail Therapy
Vroom, vroom.

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