StrictlyVC: August 13, 2018

Hello, happy Monday!

We’re back from our quick break and already insanely busy, so no column today, *but* a quick programming note about our September 25th event in San Francisco before we jump into things. In addition to interviews with James Monsees and Adam Bowen,the founders who designed the Juul vaporizer that’s taking over the world; and founder David Rogier of MasterClass, which has fast become the Netflix of e-learning, we’re thrilled to announce that SoftBank managing director Jeff Housenbold and investment director Anna Lo are also now coming, to answer our many, many (many) questions about the $100 billion Vision Fund that’s being furiously invested right now. (Both help steer the Japanese conglomerate’s growing Bay Area-based investments.)

We can’t wait to sit down with them. We only have about 10 seats left, fyi. If you can’t/don’t make it, never fear as we’ll have tons of coverage from the event afterward.

Thanks again to our partners in the evening: Norwest Venture Partners, the multi-billion dollar, multi-stage venture firm; MobSquad, which helps U.S.-based companies win the war for engineering talent by creating remote teams of high-caliber software engineers in Canada; and KCPR, the boutique public relations and strategy firm founded by Silicon Valley publicist Kelsey Cullen. We rely on our outfits like these that raise their hand to help and so greatly appreciate their support(!).
Top News
Elon Musk is finally offering more details on his bombshell tweet that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private, saying in a tweet today that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund had been urging him since the beginning of 2017 to take Tesla private. The move is unlikely to get the SEC off his back, notes Bloomberg.
Sponsored By . . .
Two MIT grads walk into a VC firm (no, not a bar) and the result is a venture-backed wine company that is fueled by — you guessed it — data science. Take Bright Cellars’ wine-matching quiz to see your top wine matches and get 50 percent off your first month.
New Fundings
Airspace Technologies, a three-year-old, Carlsbad, Ca.-based delivery and supply chain services startup that’s partnering with outside contract drivers to fuel its growth, has raised $8 million in Series A funding. Defy Ventures led the round, with participation from Qualcomm VenturesPrologis VenturesCross Culture Ventures, and Schematic VenturesMore here

Artios Pharma, a two-year-old, Cambridge, England-based DNA damage response company that’s developing treatments for cancer, has raised $84 million in Series B funding co-led by Andera Partners and LSP, with participation from Pfizer VenturesNovartis Venture FundArix BioscienceSV Health InvestorsM VenturesIP Group and AbbVie Ventures. European Biotechnology has more here

Audius, a seven-month-old, San Francisco-based startup that’s developing a decentralized, community-owned and artist-controlled music-sharing protocol, has raised $5.5 million in Series A funding co-led by General Catalyst and Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from Kleiner PerkinsPantera Capital, 122West and Ascolta Ventures. Entrepreneur has more here

Appcues, a five-year-old, Boston-based software company that enables its customers to create in-product experiences like user onboarding and feature announcements without writing any code, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Sierra VenturesMore here

Carepoynt, a three-year-old, Newport Beach, Ca.-based digital health startup focused around a rewards program, has raised $2 million in seed funding. Investors weren’t named, though the company had earlier raised seed funding from Tech Coast Angels and HBS Alumni Angels, among others. More here

Edmit, an 11-month-old, Boston-based company whose data-driven advising software aims to help families make smarter college choices, has raised $2.3 million in seed funding from Founder CollectiveRethink EducationPrecursor Ventures and others. BostInno has more here

FunNow, a 2.5-year-old, Taipei, Taiwan-based startup catering to locals who want to find new things to do in their cities, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by the Alibaba Entrepreneur Fund, with participation from CDIB, a returning investor; Darwin Ventures; and Accuvest. TechCrunch has more here

Lyvly, a three-year-old, London-based community platform that helps landlords and renters find and manage shared living accommodations, has raised $4.6 million in Series A funding from Mosaic Ventures. UKTN has more here.

Mines, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based fintech startup that has built a credit platform for emerging markets, just raised $13 million in Series A funding led byTPG Growth, with participation from 10 other firms, including Velocity Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

MyDreamPlus, a four-year-old, Beijing, China-based startup that helps people find and book co-working spaces, has raised $120 million in Series C funding. Hillhouse Capital and General Atlantic co-led the round, and were joined by JOY Capital, Ocean LinkM31 Management Fund, and K2VCMore here

Observe.AI, a year-old, U.S.and India-based startup whose first product is an AI that assists call center workers by automating a range of tasks, from auto-completing forms for customers to guiding them on next steps, has raised $8 million from investors. Nexus Venture Partners led the round, with participation from MGVLiquid 2 VenturesHack VC and earlier backers Emergent Ventures and Y Combinator. TechCrunch has more here.

Orchard Therapeutics, a three-year-old, London-based company that’s developing gene therapies, has raised $150 million in Series C funding led by Deerfield Management, with participation from 15 other investment firms. Xconomy has more here

SenSat, a three-year-old, London-based startup that turns complex visual and spatial data into a real time simulated reality for companies that operate in physical domains, has raised $4.2 million in seed funding, including from Force Over Mass,Round Hill Venture Partners and ZagmMore here

Tot Biopharm, an eight-year-old, China-based maker of anti-tumor drugs, has raised $102 million in Series B funding. Investors include China UniversalCenter Laboratories GroupVivo CapitalChengwei CapitalYuanta Financial Holdings Group and Cathay Capital. DealStreetAsia has more here

Wonga, the troubled 11-year-old, London-based payday lender, has reportedly raised £10 million in funding from earlier backers Accel Partners and Balderton Capital in an “emergency” deal that values the company at just £23 million and was designed to keep it from insolvency. Sky News has more here.
Sponsored By . . .
Three out of five VCs trust Affinity to manage their team’s collective network. Using patent-pending technology, Affinity helps teams manage and grow their networks by unlocking introductions to decision makers and auto-populating pipelines to increase deal flow. In industries where success is contingent upon maintaining high-touch relationships, Affinity allows you to get deeper insights into your network and finally eliminate manual data entry. 
New Funds
Venture firm Andreessen Horowitz is reportedly launching a new fund targeted at black celebrities, athletes and media figures. Basketball star Kevin Durant, actor Will Smith and Essence magazine publisher Richelieu Dennis are among the initial limited partners in the venture-capital fund, according to the WSJ; its sources say the fund will total roughly $15 million. More here

Benhamou Global Ventures, an early-stage venture firm, last week announced the close of a $40 million opportunity fund that invests “exclusively in the digital transformation of the enterprise with a cross-border innovation theme.” More here

OS Fund, a Venice, Ca.-based venture capital fund that invests in “breakthrough discoveries in science to address our most pressing global problems” is looking to raise up to $250 million for its second fund. That’s more than double the size of its $100 million debut fund, from which the team made 28 investments (27 of which received follow-on funding, they say). More here

Ten Eleven Ventures, a four-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based venture capital firm solely focused on digital security, has raised a new, $140 million fund. More here

TZero,’s blockchain subsidiary, has raised $134 million in an initial coin offering (ICO) that began last December and was designed to comply with SEC requirements. It was also announced today that GSR Capital, a Chinese private equity firm, is leading a $270 million investment in tZero. Part of a larger deal, the investment also includes $104 million in stock and $30 million worth of tZero tokens. Forbes has more here.
Facebook, which is on a mission to make video interactive, has acqui-hired Vidpresso, a six-year-old, Utah-based startup that works with TV broadcasters and content publishers to make their online videos more interactive, with on-screen social media polling, comments, graphics and live broadcasting. According to TechCrunch, Facebook is buying its seven-person team and its technology but not the company itself. More here

As consumer appetite for digital entertainment in China grows, two companies are combining forces: China Literature — a Tencent e-publishing venture that went public with a $1 billion IPO last November — is acquiring the Chinese digital production company New Classics Media for around $2.3 billion. TechCrunch hasmore here.
Billionaire investor Mark Cuban says he owns just a handful of stocks and tons of cash because he’s worried about the market. “I’m down to maybe four dividend-owning stocks, two shorts, and Amazon and Netflix,” he told CNBC earlier today. More here

Bessemer Venture Partners is promoting Anna Khan to vice president. Khan joined Bessemer in 2012 after founding Launch X, an accelerator that she oversaw for more than three years. She authors BVP’s State of the Cloud annual report with Bessemer partners Byron Deeter and Kristina Shen.  

David Marcus, the former head of Facebook’s Messenger team who now leads a blockchain-focused group within the social media giant, announced Friday that he would step down from his seat on the board of cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase. Facebook says the move was made to “avoid the appearance of conflict” between Marcus’ two roles, reports Fortune. More here

Kate McAndrew has been promoted to principal at Bolt, the San Francisco- and Boston-based venture firm that invests in pre-seed companies that feature both hardware and software elements. McAndrew joined Bolt in late 2014. Previously, she was program director at The Iron Yard Ventures, a startup accelerator. 

Elon Musk is being accused of tweeting while on acid. (Musk strongly denies the allegation, though it’s certainly a tempting explanation.)

Anarghya Vardhana, who joined Maveron three years ago, has been promoted to partner at the firm. More here.  

Netflix CFO David Wells is stepping down. Wells, who plans to focus on philanthropy, says he will stay on the job until he can help choose a successor. More here.
Essential Reads
Google is tracking your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to

YouTube is paying some of its biggest stars to promote some of its new features. 

Even in Washington, Jeff Bezos may the most powerful person in the room, as an obscure, $10 billion Pentagon contract suggests.
The jokes comedians would steal if they could get away with it

Shockingly drawn-out celebrity divorces.
Retail Therapy
Just flip an effing coin already.

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