September 4, 2019

Wednesday! Hello! Note that we’ll be offline for much of tomorrow (we’ll be at TC’s enterprise event), so StrictlyVC may be short and sweet, but we’ll be back in full form Friday. 🙂

Top News

Shares of Slack dropped nearly 14 percent today after posting stronger revenue in its first earnings report since its public market debut but also warning that growth is slowing.  

The file storage and sharing company Box saw its shares rise 12.3 percent today, one day after activist hedge fund Starboard Value revealed that it has purchased a 7.5 percent stake in its business. Box CEO Aaron Levie is speaking publicly tomorrow at the same event where we’re helping out; we’re eager to hear what he has to say about all this.

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Massive Fundings  

Achilles Therapeutics, a three-year-old, British developer of personalized cancer immunotherapies, has raised £100 million ($122.4 million) in Series B funding. RA Capital Management led the round, with participation ForbionInvus CapitalPerceptive AdvisorsRedmile Group and Syncona Investment Management. FierceBiotech has more here

Clio, an 11-year-old, Vancouver-based legal tech company that offers sole practitioners and law firms a suite of cloud-based software that includes legal practice management and client intake and customer relationship management, has raised $250 million in Series D funding led by TCV and JMI Equity. Crunchbase News has more here

M2i Life Sciences, a seven-year-old, Aquitaine, France-based producer of pheromones designed to replace chemical pesticides in farming, has raised $65.6 million in funding led by ADM Capital Europe and Eurazeo Growth. Unquote has more here

VillageMD, a six-year-old, Chicago, Il.-based primary care company, has raised $100 million in Series B funding led by Kinnevik AB, with participation from Oak HC/FTTown Hall Ventures and Adams Street Partners. The company has now raised roughly $216 million altogether. Built in Chicago has more here

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

75F, a seven-year-old, Burnsville, Mn.-based machine-learning powered control system that controls HVAC systems to make them more efficient, has raised $18 million in Series A funding. Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Climate Initiative co-led the round, joined by Building Ventures, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, and Clean Energy Trust. Fast Company has more here

Bellwether Coffee, a six-year-old, Berkeley, Ca.-based maker of a commercial coffee roaster that says it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90 percent compared with traditional gas-powered alternatives, just raised $40 million in Series B funding. DBL Partners and Lyndon and Peter Rive co-led the round. Other participants in the round include FusionXCongruent VenturesCoffee BellTandem CapitalSpindrift EquitiesXN VenturesBalius Partners and Hardware Club. VentureBeat has more here

Even Financial, a four-year-old New York-based provider of APIs for financial services search, acquisition, and monetization, has raised $25 million in funding co-led by Citi Ventures and MassMutual Ventures. Other backers in the round include Lending Club and earlier investors American Express VenturesCanaan PartnersF-Prime CapitalGreatPoint Ventures, and Goldman Sachs. The company has now raised $50 million altogether. VentureBeat has more here

Ginger, a nine-year-old, San Francisco-based behavioral health analytics platform, has raised $35 million in Series C funding led by WP Global Partners, with participation from City Light CapitalNimble Ventures, LinkedIn CEO Jeff WeinerKhosla VenturesKaiser Permanente Ventures, and Kapor Capital. TechCrunch has more here

Neura, a six-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based startup that helps developers see how users interact with their apps, has raised $16 million in Series B funding led by returning investors Pitango Venture Capital and Liberty Technology Venture Capital. Other participants include Moneta CapitalAmdocs and AXA Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

PerimeterX, a five-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based maker of application security software, just raised $14 million as an extension of its previous Series C funding round. Investors include Deutsche Telekom Capital PartnersSalesforce VenturesScale Venture PartnersAdam Street Partners, Canaan PartnersVertex Ventures and DCVC. FierceTelecom has more here

Railsbank, a four-year-old, London-based open banking and compliance platform, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. Moneta Capital led the round,  joined by CreditEaseClocktower Technology VenturesSingapore Life, earlier backer Firestartr and others. TechCrunch has more here.  

Sprout Pharmaceuticals, an eight-year-old, Raleigh, N.C.-based company behind female libido drug Addyi, has raised $20 million in venture funding from at least 110 individual investors, reports Fortune. More here

Smaller Fundings  

Litmus Automation, a six-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based industrial edge computing platform company, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Mitsubishi Corporation. The investment brings Litmus Automation’s total funding since launching to $12.6 million. More here

Light, a five-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company designing a minimalistic phone, has raised $8.4 million in seed funding, including from FoxconnHinge CapitalBullishWhite Bay GroupAble PartnersProduct Co-Op, and SOSC. TechCrunch has more here

RocketBody, a  three-year-old, Newark, Del.-based maker of an ECG-based personal trainer app for the Apple Watch, has raised $1 million in funding from Gagarin CapitalMore here.

New Funds 

The National Basketball Association is reportedly mulling the creation of an investment vehicle that would enable backers to buy minority shares of individual teams. In a memo sent to owners seen by Bloomberg,  the league says it’s exploring the potential formation of “a new capital vehicle that could purchase passive, minority ownership interests across multiple NBA teams.” 

Reefknot Investments, a joint venture between Temasek, Singapore’s sovereign fund, and global logistics company Kuehne + Nagel, has announced the launch of a $50 million fund for logistics and supply chain startups. The firm is based in Singapore but will look for startups around the world that are raising their Series A or B rounds. TechCrunch has more here.


The publicly traded ed tech company Chegg has acquired the nearly seven-year-old, New York-based online coding school Thinkful for $80 million in cash. Thinkful had raised around $15 million from Owl Ventures, Tribeca Venture Partners, Peter Thiel and RRE Ventures. Crunchbase News has more here

Commvault, a publicly traded maker of software for the management of data across cloud and on-premises environments, say it’s acquiring the seven-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based software-defined storage startup, Hedvig, for $225 million, including the purchase price and ongoing employee retention. According to Crunchbase, Hedvig had raised $52 million over the years, including from True Ventures. More here

Microsoft has acquired Movere, an 11-year-old Seattle-area cloud migration startup. Microsoft will use the deal to help customers move their existing applications and infrastructure to Azure, says GeekWire. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed; it isn’t immediately clear whether or how much Movere had raised from outside investors. More here

Palo Alto Networks is adding a new acquisition to its growing collection, announcing today its plans to buy IoT security startup Zingbox for $75 million. The nearly five-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based startup had raised $23.5 million, according to Crunchbase data. Its three co-founders — Xu Zou, May Wang and Jianlin Zeng — will be joining Palo Alto after the sale is official. TechCrunch has more here.


WeWork is bringing aboard Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei as its first female board member as it prepares to go public. Frei was previously hired by Uber to help address its troubled culture, leaving the ride-hail company early last year. Reuters has more here

Adam Marchick has joined Emory University in Atlanta as an investor tasked with helping put to work its $7 billion endowment. Marchick spent several years with Bain Capital Ventures before founding two startups and, more recently, spending three months as an entrepreneur-in-residence with The Chernin Group. 

MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte said today he would take Jeffrey Epstein’s money again today, to the horror of those gathered at the internal meeting where Negroponte was speaking. According to Technology Review, one woman in the front row began crying as he spoke. It wasn’t until another woman yelled “Shut up!” twice that Negroponte mumbled “Good grief” and sat down. 

WeWork CEO Adam Neumann has returned that $5.9 million worth of stock in the company that was originally paid to him to acquire the trademark “We.” In an amended S-1 filing on Wednesday, WeWork’s parent company, the We Company, noted that it was unwinding the agreement “at Adam’s direction.” 

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Essential Reads 

In the latest security lapse involving Facebookhundreds of millions of phone numbers linked to Facebook accounts have been found online on an exposed server whose owner isn’t known, reports TechCrunch. It adds that questions remain as to exactly who scraped the data, when it was scraped from Facebook, and why. 

Google agreed today to pay a record $170 million fine and make changes to protect children’s privacy on YouTube, after regulators said the site had knowingly harvested personal information from children and used it for ad targeting. The paltry fine has many scratching their heads, though the settlement doesn’t end there. YouTube also agreed to create a system that asks video channel owners to identify the children’s content they post so that targeted ads aren’t placed in such videos. And YouTube agreed to obtain consent from parents before collecting or sharing their kids’ personal details. 

Twitter says it has (just temporarily!) turned off the ability to tweet via text message days after the feature was misused by hackers to tweet a racial slur and other nasty messages from the account of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.


No matter how fast or slowly languages are spoken, they tend to transmit information at twice the speed of Morse code

The new Porsche Taycan versus the Tesla Model S: spec for spec, price for price

Tribute bands for conspiracy theorists.

Retail Therapy 

An Apple Macintosh iPhone.

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