StrictlyVC: August 16, 2018

Hi, happy Thursday, all. We have to zoom off sort of abruptly today so we may be missing something juicy in today’s newsletter. If so, we’ll get you caught up tomorrow morning.
Top News
In a company email earlier today, Twitter cited “technical and business constraints” as the reason behind a new shutdown of third-party APIs. The move has users and developers furious.
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New Zealand to VCs and Hedge Funders Buying Up Its Land: No More
Over the last couple of years, a once well-kept secret began to gain traction in New York media outlets: wealthy American investors, including VCs and hedge fund managers, had begun snapping up tracts of land in New Zealand, largely out of fear that a Trump administration could have a destabilizing effect on an already polarized United States but also owing to growing concerns about climate change and other impending disaster scenarios.

Now, facing a growing backlash over rising housing prices, New Zealand’s parliament has banned non-residents from purchasing most types of homes, aside from new apartments in large developments. (Australians and Singaporeans are exempt because of free-trade deals.)

The bill, passed narrowly yesterday, was reportedly heralded by New Zealand’s Trade and Economic Development Minister David Parker as a “significant milestone.” Said Parker, “This government believes that New Zealanders should not be outbid by wealthier foreign buyers . . . Whether it’s a beautiful lakeside or ocean-front estate, or a modest suburban house, this law ensures that the market for our homes is set in New Zealand, not on the international market.”

The move to block foreign buyers isn’t a complete shock given the amount of publicity that New Zealand has garnered in recent years as a haven for wealthy survivalists, including those in tech. The New Yorker began exploring the trend in a profile about Y Combinator President Sam Altman, which said that Altman’s plan, in the case of a pandemic, was to “fly with his friend Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist, to Thiel’s house in New Zealand.” 

The outlet followed up with another piece several months later, in January of last year, about many other investors who’d come to see New Zealand as their backup plan. In fact, there were so many of them — particularly hedge fund managers — that it had become a bit of a running joke, LinkedIn founder and investor Reid Hoffman told the magazine. He recalled telling a friend that he was thinking of visiting New Zealand, after which the friend had asked Hoffman, “Oh, are you going to get apocalypse insurance?” Said Hoffman to the New Yorker, “Saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more. Once you’ve done the Masonic handshake, they’ll be, like, ‘Oh, you know, I have a broker who sells old ICBM silos, and they’re nuclear-hardened, and they kind of look like they would be interesting to live in.’ ” 

More here.
New Fundings
Arcadia Power, a four-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based “digital utility” startup focused on clean energy, has raised $25 million in fresh funding led by G2VP, with participation from ValueAct Spring FundMcKnight FoundationEnergy Impact PartnersCendana CapitalWonder Ventures and BoxGroup. TechCrunch has more here.  

Cargomatic, a 5.5-year-old, Long Beach, Ca.-based tech platform that connects shippers and carriers, has raised $35 million in Series B financing led by funds affiliated with Warburg Pincus, with participation from Canaan Partners, Genesee & WyomingXplorer Capital and Muse Family Enterprises. The WSJ has more here.

Clobotics, a three-year-old, Shanghai- and Seattle-based company that provides intelligent computer vision solutions for the wind power and retail industries, has added $11 million to its Series A funding, pushing the round to $21 million. New investors include Nantian Infotech VC and Wangsu Company. VentureBeat has more here

Deposit Solutions, a seven-year-old, Hamburg, Germany-based startup that lets people access the best interest rates from multiple banks without having to open up new accounts, has raised $100 million in new funding at a $500 million post-money valuation led by Vitruvian Partners, with participation from Kinnevik and earlier backers, including Business insider has more here

Freeletics, a five-year-old, Munich, Germany-based startup whose workout and nutrition apps are used by 30 million users globally, has raised undisclosed but “significant” amount of funding from Courtside VenturesElysian Park VenturesCauseway Media PartnersJAZZ Venture Partners, and ward.venturesMore here

Lucidity, a 15-month-old, L.A.-based digital advertising blockchain, has raised $5 million in funding from 3RodeoCoinUsCypher GroupYouBi Capital, and Pithia. (We’ve heard of none of these outfits, fwiw.). More here

myLAB Box, a five-year-old, L.A.-based at-home STD testing service, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding led by K5 Ventures and Texas HALO Fund, with participation from Morgan StanleyPasadena AngelsPipeline Angels, and Sand Hill Angels. The company has now raised $2.1 million altogether. More here

Rhumbix, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of cloud-based mobile workforce management for the construction industry, has raised $8 million in funding led by AutodeskMore here

ROOM, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based startup that’s focused on reducing noise in open office spaces (its first product is a soundproof phone booth), has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Slow Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

Sendo, a Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam-based online selling platform, has raised $51 million in Series B funding led by SBI Group, with participation from SoftBank Ventures KoreaDaiwa PI Partners and SKS Ventures. Tech in Asia has more here

SFOX, a young, Stanford, Ca.-based cryptocurrency dealer that’s setting out to provide trading services for institutional investors, has raised $22.7 million in funding from Tribe Capital and Social Capital, with additional participation from Airbnb co-founder Nathan BlecharczykY CombinatorDanhua Venture CapitalDigital Currency Group and more. CoinDesk has more here

Sila Nano, a seven-year-old, Alameda, Ca.-based developer of new materials for batteries, has raised $70 million in Series D funding led by Sutter Hill Ventures, with participation from Next47Amperex Technology and earlier backers like Bessemer Venture Partners. MIT Review has more here

Thunder Stone Technology, a seven-year-old, Singapore-based maker of karaoke systems, has raised $29 million in Series B funding led by China Minsheng Investment Group, with participation from Morningside Venture CapitalMore here.
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New Funds
Bumble, the dating app that requires women to send the first message, has launched a venture capital fund that emphasizes its female-focused mission. Bumble Fund invests primarily in businesses founded and led by women of color and those from other underrepresented groups. Sarah Jones Simmer, Bumble’s COO, will run the fund’s investment strategy. Pitchbook has more here

Pantera Capital, the San Francisco investment firm that has made its mark in recent years by investing early and often in a wide variety of digital assets, is looking to raise up to $175 million for its third venture fund — an enormous jump from the $25 million it deployed for its second venture fund and its $13 million debut venture fund, which it closed in 2013. Partner Paul Veradittakit says the target amount is a “function of how fast the space is moving, the talent coming in, the opportunities, and the sizing of rounds. With more interesting later-stage investments [on our radar], too, we want to be flexible and able to move with the market.” Much more here.
Scout Ventures, the roughly 10-year-old, seed-stage investment firm, is hiring anassociate. The job is in gleaming New York City. 
Essential Reads
Private investors have put a lot of faith in Wish becoming the online version of dollar stores, assigning it a valuation of about $8.5 billion. One possible hitch in those plans is that Wish’s new customers stop shopping at the site in fewer and fewer numbers within a few months of their first visits, according to credit card transaction data obtained by The Information. It shows just 8 percent of people in the U.S. who bought something from Wish for the first time between August 2016 and August 2017 were still shopping on the site a year later. More here

In today’s Amazon news, the juggernaut is reportedly in the running to acquire Landmark Theaters, a move that would “vault the e-commerce giant into the brick-and-mortar cinema industry,” notes Bloomberg (though we’re also wondering about its other motives). More here.
Confirmed: the pockets on women’s pants are indeed bullshite

Outdoor urinals are causing an uproar in Paris.  

Pick a cat name your cat will respond to. 
Retail Therapy
A graphene jacket that acts as a radiator. (Sign us up?)

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