StrictlyVC: July 24, 2018

Look, we love you, but it’s the last week of July and it’s busier than ever on the deal front. Can you please go on vacation? They’re fun!

Speaking of vacations, next week we will be working while watching our children and visiting our parents, so do not expect “a lot.”  Also, of actual importance: the week of August 6, we won’t be publishing StrictlyVC. Apologies in advance. We need quality time with the kiddos before they get sucked back into the new school year. (We’ll send out another reminder or two about this next week.)
Top News
Both AT&T and Verizon reported earnings today. AT&T disappointed investors. Verizon’s news was better.  

23andMe, maker of those direct-to-consumer genetic testing kits, has authorized the sale of up to $300 million in new shares, says Pitchbook. More here.
Sponsored By . . .
A better electric toothbrush. Quip was created by dentists and designers to guide the good habits that matter — starting at $25. Brush heads ($5) are delivered for an automatic refresh every 3 months. Get your first refill free.
BlockFi Was Just Given $50 Million to Lend to Bitcoin and Ethereum Holders Who Don’t Want to Sell (Yet)
Because cryptocurrency prices are almost comically volatile owing to challenges involved in valuing them, it’s hard to know when or why to sell.

Enter crypto-asset backed loans, around which a small but growing number of startups is beginning to spring up. The idea is to lend money to cryptocurrency holders who don’t want to offload their holdings but also don’t necessarily want so much of their assets tied up in cryptocurrencies.

Among these is Lendingblock, a London-based startup that enables holders of crypto assets to lend them out and accrue interest on their holdings. Other outfits — and we aren’t vouching for these so much as letting you know they exist — includeCoinLoan, a 1.5-year-old outfit in Estonia that is itself trying to raise money through an initial coin offering; Nexo, a Switzerland-based platform powered by a Bulgarian consumer finance company called Credissimo; and SALT Lending, a Denver-based outfit that started crypto lending earlier this year, and recently told American Banker that it has already made just shy of $40 million in loans and has had no losses. (AB notes that the company’s founder, Blake Cohen, refers to himself at “The Blockchain Cowboy.”) 

Still, it’s already looking like if there is one to watch in this new world, it might be BlockFi, a year-old, 12-person, New York-based non-bank lender that had raised roughly $1.5 million in seed funding earlier this year from ConsenSys Ventures, SoFi, and Kenetic Capital and just today, quietly announced a massive infusion of capital — $52.5 million — led by Galaxy Digital Ventures, the digital currency and blockchain tech firm founded by famed investor Mike Novogratz. 

Most of the capital — $50 million — will be used to loan to BlockFi’s customers.  

More here.
New Fundings
Agora Images, a two-year-old, Barcelona, Spain-based photo contest app, has raised €2 million in new funding from backers, including Mnext VCWildinvest, Soller Invest and Kabche Real EstateMore here

AllCloud, a three-year-old, Israel-based cloud consulting company, has raised $7 million in funding led by existing and new investors Discount Capital and Hallett Capital. The company has now raised $15 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

BinaryVR, a three-year-old, Burlingame, Ca.-based startup focused on computer vision face-tracking capable of translating a user’s facial input to a virtual reality avatar, has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding. Backers include Atinum InvestmentKT InvestmentPearl Abyss and Kakao Ventures. BinaryVR  has now raised about $5.8 million to date. TechCrunch has more here.

Brightpearl, a two-year-old, Bristol, U.K.-based maker of cloud-based inventory management and ERP software for retailers, has raised $15 million in funding. Cipio Partners led the round with participation from earlier backers MMC Ventures and Notion CapitalMore here.

Campfire, a two-year-old, Hong Kong-based co-working space operator, raised $18 million in Series A funding from Kwai Jung GroupFast Global Holdings and Sa Sa. TechCrunch has more here

Knock Knock, a two-month-old, Bay Area-based startup that’s building games for platforms like Facebook Messenger and WeChat, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Raine Ventures, with participation from London Venture PartnersLudlow Ventures and Gregory Milken. TechCrunch has more here

League, a four-year-old, Toronto-based online platform that helps employees manage their health plan and benefits, has raised $47.1 million in Series B funding led by TELUS Ventures, with participation from Wittington Ventures and returning investors OMERS, Infinite Potential Group, RBC Ventures and BDC Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

Outlier, a three-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based business intelligence startup, has raised $6.2 million in Series A funding by Ridge Ventures, with participation from11.2 CapitalFirst Round CapitalHomebrewSusa Ventures and SV Angel. The company has now raised a little more than $8 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

Rescale, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that wants to bring high performance computing to the cloud, just raised $32 million in Series B funding. Initialized CapitalKeen Venture Partners and SineWave Ventures led the round. Other participants in the funding include such recognizable individuals as Sam AltmanJeff BezosRichard BransonPaul GrahamRon ConwayChris Dixon, and Peter Thiel. Rescale has now raised $52 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

ScaleFactor, a four-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based startup selling accounting and payroll management software as a service, has raised $10 million in new funding led by led by Canaan Partners, with participation from Citi VenturesBroadhaven Capital and earlier backers. The company has now raised $12.5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

Skillshare, a seven-year-old, New York-based online learning community with thousands of classes in creative, business and tech disciplines,  has closed on $28 million in new funding that includes $20 million in equity and $8 million in venture debt. Earlier backer Union Square Ventures led the equity portion of the round. Other participants include Burda Principal Investments and other earlier backers Amasia and Spero VenturesMore here

SpotAngels, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based app that uses crowdsourced data to help drivers find parking and avoid tickets, has raised $2.3 million from a group of investors that includes Google Maps co-founder Lars Rasmussen. TechCrunch has more here

Supermedium, a year-old, San Francisco-based startup whose app lets users browse hundreds of VR experiences on the web (as long as they also have a VR headset), just raised $1.1 million in seed funding from Y CombinatorGeneral CatalystBoost VC, and a bunch of others. TechCrunch has more here.
New Funds
The U.K.- based, Europe-focused, early-stage venture firm Mosaic Ventures — which bills itself as “a Silicon Valley-style venture capital firm based in London” — looks to be raising a second, larger fund, four years after closing its debut $140 million fund. According to a new SEC filing, Mosaic is aiming to raise $150 million this time around. TechCrunch has more here

Josh Mohrer and William Barnes, two former Uber  executives, are working on an investor syndicate to invest in startups led by fellow former Uber employees, says Axios. More here

Rocket Internet, the Berlin-based public company that creates and invests in tech startups, is trying to raise a new billion-dollar fund, a significant amount of which will eventually be invested in the U.S., according to Bloomberg. Its reports says Rocket Internet will be the lead investor in the fund but that it’s looking for other partners to join and that the fund, which could reach upwards of $2 billion when all is said and done, could close as soon as December. More here.
ezCater, a Boston-based corporate catering company that recently raised $100 million in fresh funding, has acquired the much smaller, Paris-based corporate catering platform GoCater, which had raised seed funding from Kima Ventures,Cabiedes & Partners and U-Start. TechCrunch has more here

File sharing veteran BitTorrent has finally confirmed that it has a new owner: “We are excited to announce that Tron has officially closed its acquisition of BitTorrent,” the company said in a blog post earlier today. Tron is a blockchain startup founded by Chinese entrepreneur Justin Jun. The company has issued it own crypto-currency, dubbed TRX, which had a market cap of $2.4 billion as of this morning. Variety has more here

The mental health startup Lantern, which raised more than $20 million in funding, is winding down its commercial operations after a couple of acquisition deals fell through, TechCrunch has learned. More here.
VC Joshua Kushner announced his engagement to longtime girlfriend (and supermodel) Karlie Kloss earlier today. Kushner co-manages Thrive Capital in New York. (You do care, so do not write us saying otherwise.) More here

Writer Ben Mezrich, whose wrote the book that became “The Social Network,” has sold another book about the Winklevoss twins. 

Mark Randall, the vice president of hardware at Snap and the person overseeing the Snap Labs team, is leaving.
Essential Reads
Startup CEOs in China are beginning to get ten-figure bonuses with their companies’ IPOs, notes Bloomberg. The CEO of Shanghai-based Pinduoduo received at least $1 billion of stock without any performance hurdles as his e-commerce company prepares for a U.S. IPO. Lei Jun, the head of Beijing-based smartphone maker Xiaomi, similarly saw a $1.5 billion payday, with no strings attached, when his company went public in July. More here

For good or bad, Bain Capital and Vista Equity Partners, two multi-billion-dollar private equity firms, just created a company that provides software and services for public safety and government management, and whose technology is expected to touch roughly three-fourths of the U.S. population. TechCrunch has more here.
How the fleece vest became the new corporate uniform. [*Coughs. Jeff Clavier.] 

How to make a perfectly passable margarita.  

How to make sunscreen from scratch.  

To remember, the brain must actively forget
Retail Therapy
File this Mercedes under “we want.” (But seriously . . .)

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