StrictlyVC: July 23, 2018

Monday! Hello!  

Quick mention before we dive into things: We finally have an event site for our upcoming INSIDER series on Tuesday night, September 25th, in San Francisco, and we are getting excited, people. 

If you missed last week’s news, Juul founders Adam Bowen and James Monsees, are now coming to discuss the explosive growth of their sleekly designed nicotine vaporizers and all that goes with it — a huge valuation, eye-popping revenue, and loyal users, as well as growing parental concern, new lawsuits, and an FDA that’s not all that sure what to do with the company. We can’t wait to sit down with the design duo for a wide-ranging discussion about their company’s growing dominance. 

We’re also  thrilled to be hosting MasterClass cofounder and CEO David Rogier, who has managed in just a few short years to build what is basically the Netflix of e-learning, giving everyone with an internet connection direct access to experts in a wide number of fields, including star chef Gordon Ramsay, filmmaker Spike Lee, and comedian and writer Steve Martin. How did Rogier pull it off? Where does the company go from here? And what’s the biggest threat to MasterClass going forward? We’ll cover it all. 

There are other announcements coming, so stay tuned. In the meantime, because we couldn’t host the evening without their help, we’d like to thank our partners in the evening, including, most of all, Norwest Venture Partners, which is playing host to all of us. (Thank you, team Norwest!) We also want to thank 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 startup that’s helping U.S.-based companies win the war for engineering talent by creating remote teams of high-caliber software engineers in Canada

More tomorrow.:)
Top News
Tesla asked some suppliers to return a portion of its payments to them in an attempt by the electric-car maker to turn a profit, the Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend, citing a memo sent to a supplier last week. Today, Tesla’s shares are (unsurprisingly) dropping following the report. 

Google parent Alphabet is expected to report earnings after the market closes today, and investors will be waiting to learn more about how that hefty EU fine impacts its business.
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New Fundings
Click Therapeutics, a six-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based company that develops and commercializes software as prescription medical treatments for people with unmet medical needs, has raised $17 million in funding led by Sanofi Ventures

Cogito, an 11-year-old, Boston-based company that uses artificial intelligence to understand sentiment and apply it in a business context (for example, its helps customer service reps gauge the mood of a customer who calls them), has raised $37 million in Series C funding led by Goldman Sachs Growth Equity. Earlier investors Salesforce Ventures and OpenView also chipped into the round. TechCrunch has more here

Gideon Brothers, a 1.5-year-old, Croatia-based startup that’s building autonomous robots for use in warehouses and other industrial spaces, has quietly raised $765,000 in funding led by TransferWise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus. TechCrunch has more here

HerdDogg, a three-year-old, Ashland, Or.-based maker of “smart tags” for tracking livestock and remote animal health monitoring, has raised $2.3 million in seed funding led by Serra VenturesMore here, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based construction analytics platform that counts trucks and material arrivals and measures equipment productivity, has raised $3.7 million in seed funding led by the seed-stage venture UP2398More here

Madaket Health, a six-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based company whose software aims to simplify the administrative data exchange between payers and providers, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Qiming Venture Partners, wit. Other participants in the round include Experian Ventures, The PNC Financial Services Group, and Salesforce VenturesMore here

Megvii, a six-year-old, Beijing, China-based developer of the facial recognition system Face++, is reportedly raising at least $600 million in fresh funding from investors, including Alibaba Group and Boyu Capital. The company already counts billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Financial as one of its backers. Bloomberg has more here

Rethink Brands, a two-year-old, Columbia, Md.-based beverage company that sells a zero-calorie, zero-sodium, and zero-sugar boxed water line for kids, has secured $6.7 in funding. AccelFoods, an outfit that invests in natural food and beverage companies, led the round. More here

SessionM, a seven-year-old, Boston-based customer engagement platform that aggregates loyalty data for brands to help them better understand their users, has raised $23.8 million in Series E funding led by Salesforce Ventures. Earlier investors also joined the round, including Causeway Media PartnersCRV,General AtlanticHighland Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The company has now raised roughly $97 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

Volta Charging, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based network of electric vehicle charging stations, has raised $35 million from investors led by the Invenergy Future Fund, the technology investment arm of renewable energy project developer Invenergy, and Activate Capital, which is a relatively new $200 million investment fund raised by clean tech veterans including Raj Atluru. TechCrunch has more here

Xage, a year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based blockchain security startup aiming to secure industrial internet of things devices on the blockchain, has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by March Capital PartnersGE VenturesCity Light Capitaland NexStar Partners. TechCrunch has more here.
New Funds
Long Hill Capital, a nearly two-year-old venture firm that’s based in both Shanghai and Beijing and focused on healthcare and consumer startups, has closed its second fund with $265 million, according to a press release. More here

Ridge Ventures, the San Francisco-based early-stage venture firm formerly known as IDG Ventures, has raised over $130 million for its fourth fund, shows an SEC filing that doesn’t list a target. The outfit had closed its third fund with $120 millionin 2015. More here.
Eventbrite, the 12-year-old, San Francisco-based event-planning company, has filed confidentially for an IPO and plans to go public later this year, according to the WSJ. The eventual listing will place cofounder and CEO Julia Hartz in a tiny but growing list of female tech founders to steer their companies onto the public markets. TechCrunch has more here

Pinterest has taken a long time to justify its monstrous private market valuation, but the social media company is finally approaching $1 billion in ad revenue and is pushing toward an IPO in mid 2019, reports CNBC

High-end speaker company Sonos revealed more about its IPO plans earlier today, stating in a new filing that it plans to offer roughly 13.9 million shares that it expects will price between $17 to $19 each. After the offering, Sonos would have a market value of about $2.14 billion on a fully diluted basis.
WSJ reporter Dan Neil deleted his Twitter account after receiving so much blowback from that Tesla Model 3 review he’d posted (and we’d pointed you toward) on Friday. We thought it was pretty glowing, but hard-core Tesla fans apparently interpreted it otherwise. 

Bust out the china. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are reportedly making plans to travel to California early in 2019, with a stop in the Bay Area to meet with tech entrepreneurs

Susan Fowler, the engineer who blew the whistle on Uber’s culture of sexual harassment, has a new role: tech opinion editor at The New York Times. 

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son blasted Japan’s ride-sharing ban late last week at the company’s annual event for customers and suppliers, calling the country “stupid” for banning ride-hailing. Japan doesn’t allow unlicensed private car drivers to operate as taxis. Reuters has more here.
Tola Capital, an enterprise-focused venture firm, is looking to hire a venture capital associate. The job is in Seattle
Essential Reads
How e-commerce is transforming rural China

Amazon’s newest Alexa Fund recipients are less consumer-focused.
Airbnb reviews of my childhood home. 

A likely small but unsavory new issue for Uber: vomit fraud

Fifteen podcasts that will make you feel smarter.
Retail Therapy
Wheel pants.” For your little baby.

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