StrictlyVC: July 31, 2018

Hello, and happy Tuesday.:) We have to keep things short and sweet today as we’re juggling a little bit. More tomorrow . . .
Top News
Facebook says it has identified a coordinated political influence campaign, with dozens of inauthentic accounts and pages that are believed to be engaging in political activity ahead of November’s midterm elections. The New York Times has more here

Morgan Stanley is worried the stock market rally may have exhausted itself.
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Scalar Capital, a Hedge Fund for Crypto Assets, Plants Its Flag
Scalar Capital is a San Francisco-based hedge fund company specializing in crypto assets. In fact, it is one of roughly 300 crypto-focused funds that have sprung up in the last year or so. 

That kind of market zaniness makes it hard to carve out a niche, but Scalar has a bit an edge on this front, thanks to its founders’ backgrounds. Linda Xie, who studied economics at UC San Diego, spent a couple of years out of college as a portfolio risk analyst with the insurance giant AIG before joining Coinbase as a product manager, a role she held for more than three years before leaving last fall to start Scalar. 

Her cofounder, Jordan Clifford, has a computer science degree from Carnegie Mellon and spent a few years as a business analyst with Capital One before bouncing around a couple of startups and landing at Coinbase, where he worked as a software engineer for roughly 18 months, meeting Xie in the process. 

Though it’s far too early to say whether Scalar can, well, scale, a source close to the firm says the duo has already raised $20 million from investors that include VC and crypto enthusiast Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz, Coinbase cofounder Fred Ehrsam, and angel investor Elad Gil. We spoke with Xie recently to learn more. Our chat has been edited lightly for length. 

More here.
New Fundings
Blueprint Power, a year-old, New York-based platform to help buildings sell their excess electricity into numerous energy markets, just raised $3.5 million in Series A funding led by Congruent VenturesMetaProp Ventures, and Union Square Ventures founders Fred Wilson and Brad Burnham. Earlier backers Lennar and Fifth Wall Ventures, also joined the round. More here.  

BlueVine, a five-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based startup that provides invoice factoring and small business lines of credit, has raised $12 million in new funding from Microsoft’s M12 and Nationwide Insurance. The capital is an extension of a previously closed Series E round that brings the round to $72 million altogether. Crunchbase News has more here

Brandless, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based e-commerce company that sells hundreds of products for $3 each, has raised $240 million in fresh funding from Softbank‘s Vision Fund at a valuation of just more than $500 million. Brandless had previously raised roughly $50 million from investors RedpointNew Enterprise Associates, and Cowboy Ventures, among others. CEO Tina Sharkey spoke at a StrictlyVC event earlier this year. Bloomberg has more here

California Dreamin’, a year-old, San Francisco-based cannabis drink that comes in four flavors, including tangerine and grapefruit, just raised $2.3 million in funding. Among its backers: Y CombinatorPaul Buchheit, and Justin WongMore here

Espressive, a year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based AI-driven enterprise service management platform, has raised $23 million in funding, including from General Catalyst and Wing Venture CapitalMore here

Freshworks, an eight-year-old, San Bruno, Ca.-based company that offers a variety of business software tools that range from IT management to CRM for sales and customer support, has raised $100 million in funding round co-led by Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners, with participation from CaptialG. The company has now raised $250 million altogether, at a post-money valuation that’s north of $1.5 billion, it says. TechCrunch has more here

Gusto, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based payroll, benefits and HR technology platform for small businesses, has raised $140 million in Series C funding. T. Rowe Price Associates, Y Combinator Continuity Fund, General CatalystMSD Capital (Michael Dell), Dragoneer Investment GroupCapitalGKleiner PerkinsEmergence Capital137 Ventures and others participated. More here

Labelbox, a year-old, San Francisco-based company that builds artificial intelligence training data labeling software, has raised $3.9 million in seed funding led by Kleiner Perkins, with participation from First Round and Google’s Gradient VenturesMore here

Mammoth Biosciences, a year-old, San Francisco-based, CRISPR-based detection platform that says it’s capable of sensing any biomarker or disease with DNA/RNA, has raised $23 million in Series A funding led by Mayfield with participation from 8VC and early backer NFX. TechCrunch has more here

Skyline AI, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based real estate investment startup, has raised $18 million in Series A funding led by earlier backer Sequoia Capital, a returning investor, and TLV Partners, with participation from JLL Spark, a division of real estate investment management firm JLL. TechCrunch has more here

Xwing, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based autonomous aviation company, has raised $4 million in seed funding led by Eniac Ventures, with participation fromArray Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.  

ZecOps, a year-old, San Francisco-based stealth mode cyber security startup, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding led by KPN Ventures, with participation fromEvolution Equity PartnersPlug and Play Silicon ValleyWISE Ventures,Array Ventures, and angel investors. More here.
New Funds
Blue Lake Capital, a four-year-old, Shanghai, China-based venture capital firm, raised $138.9 million for its second fund, according to an SEC filing that shows a$200 million target. More here.
The flood of IPOs is expected to slow to a trickle this week. But deal flow may also be reduced by cracks that are appearing in a key part of the IPO market: the less-than-stellar performance of tech stocks, and especially Chinese internet companies. MarketWatch has the story here.
LegalZoom, an online platform for connecting small business owners to various legal services, has raised $500 million at a $2 billion valuation, including to help pay out some investors and employees. Francisco PartnersGPI CapitalFranklin Templeton Investments and Neuberger Berman acquired shares, while Kleiner Perkins, IVP and the company’s largest shareholder, Permira, sold into the deal. Bloomberg has more here

Viacom has confirmed that it’s acquiring digital media company AwesomenessTV, whose network reaches 158 million subscribers and approximately 300 million monthly views. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the property sold for $25 million, plus “some debt.” Awesomeness had previously been assigned a valuation by its investors of $650 million. TechCrunch has more here.
Jeff Bezos‘s parents invested $245,573 in Amazon in 1995. Now they could be worth $30 billion.
Essential Reads
Cadre, the young real estate tech company (whose CEO, Ryan Williams, also spoke at our SVC event earlier this year), has reportedly failed to win backing from Softbank. According to Bloomberg, other investors are now talking with the company about a funding round that would value it at $2 billion. More here

Genetics-testing companies are setting new rules for how they assess and share consumers’ DNA. The latest category to get the e-commerce treatment: adult diapers.
“House of Cards” is moving on without Kevin Spacey

How a notorious gangster was exposed by his own sister.
Retail Therapy
A billion-dollar(!) L.A. property. (House sold separately.)

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