September 6, 2019

Friday! [Knocks one back.] Hope you have a wonderful weekend; see you in a few days.:) 

Psst. We’re starting to plan our last event of the year, November 13th, in San Francisco. More on this soon, but you can nab a seat here.

Top News

Top state law-enforcement officials from across the country are formally launching antitrust probes into Facebook and Alphabet’s Google starting next week, adding considerable heft to the investigative efforts under way in Washington. Details of the Google probe will be announced on Monday

Alphabet has separately received a mandatory request for information from the Justice Department concerning its previous antitrust investigations, the tech giant said today. The compulsory request was received last week, the company said in a notice to investors. 

Medical experts and federal health officials today warned the public about the dangers of vaping and discouraged using the devices as the number of people with a severe lung illness linked to vaping more than doubled to 450 possible cases in 33 states and the number of deaths rose to five. The CDC is still investigating the cause.

Sponsored By …

Tired of supporting institutions and companies that haven’t supported you? Unlike most financial services companies, the Ellevest team is majority women. That means we do business differently — including ways to support women while seeking competitive investment returns. (And we’ll never, ever ask to talk to your husband.) Find your team at Ellevest Private Wealth.

Top VCs Say the Landscape for Enterprise Startups is Changing 

Yesterday at TechCrunch’s Enterprise event in San Francisco, we sat down with three venture capitalists who spend a lot of their time thinking about enterprise startups. We wanted to ask what trends they are seeing, what concerns they might have about the state of the market and, of course, how startups might persuade them to write out a check. 

We covered a lot of ground with the investors — Jason Green  of Emergence Capital, Rebecca Lynn of Canvas Ventures and Maha Ibrahim of Canaan Partners — who told us, among other things, that startups shouldn’t expect a big M&A event right now, that there’s no first-mover advantage in the enterprise realm and why grit may be the quality that ends up keeping a startup afloat. 

On the growth of enterprise startups:
Jason Green: When we started Emergence 15 years ago, we saw maybe a few hundred startups a year, and we funded about five or six. Today, we see over 1,000 a year; we probably do deep diligence on 25. 

On what VCs are looking for in a team exactly, whether it be certifications or industry expertise:
Rebecca Lynn:  It’s [like asking], what do you look for in a husband, right? 

More here.

Massive Fundings  

Happy Money, a 10-year-old, Costa Mesa, Ca.-based fintech that operates a marketplace that hooks borrowers up with credit union lenders, has raised $70 million in Series D funding. CMFG Ventures led the round. Forbes has more here

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

Cogito, a 12-year-old, Boston-based AI software company that helps companies assess customer satisfaction, has raised $20 million in funding, including from New York Life VenturesSalesforce Ventures and Goldman Sachs Growth Equity. VentureBeat has more here

Fieldin, a seven-year-old, Fresno, Ca.- and Israel-based farm management platform, has raised $12 million in funding led by Zeev Ventures. Other participants in the round include Cavallo Ventures; the venture capital arm of Wilbur-EllisAgFunder; and earlier investors Germin8 VenturesGal Ventures; and Terra Venture PartnersMore here Group, a 13-year-old, Malta-based performance marketing company in the online gambling industry, has raised $15.5 million in funding from Edison PartnersMore here

Hotel Engine, a four-year-old, Denver-based tech travel company that offers hotel reservation and management solutions for the booking of more than 200,000 hotels, has raised $16 million in Series A funding. Telescope Partners led the round, reportedly at a $150 million post-money valuation. Skift has more here

Ori, a four-year-old, Boston-based maker of robotic furniture for small spaces (think closets that move out of walls, beds that rise from the ground into the ceiling), just raised $20 million in Series B funding, including from Sidewalk LabsIngka GroupGeolo Capital and Khosla Ventures. VentureBeat has more here

Specific Diagnostics, an eight-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based in vitro diagnostic company, has raised $12.5 million in funding from venture capital firm Telegraph Hill PartnersMore here

Smaller Fundings  

Aural Analytics, a four-year-old, Scottsdale, Az.-based digital health company focused on building an advanced speech analytics platform, has raised $4.3 million in funding co-led by Morningside Ventures and Tamarisc VenturesMore here

Dapix, a 1.5-year-old, Denver-based company behind the development of the FIO Protocol, has raised $5.7 million in Series A funding led by Binance Labs. Coindesk has more here

Exeger, a 10-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based solar cell manufacturer, has raised $10 million from earlier backer SoftBankMore here

Health Recovery Solutions, a seven-year-old, Hoboken, N.J.-based maker of remote patient monitoring software, has raised $10 million led by Edison PartnersMore here

My Intelligent Machines (MIMS), a three-year-old, Montreal-based startup that generates predictive models for processing data at companies in the biopharmaceutical and agtech sectors, has raised $2.6 million in seed funding. Investors include Anges QuébecAnges Québec CapitalConsortium MedTeqDesjardins CapitalReal Ventures, and StandUp Ventures. BetaKit has more here

Sigrid Therapeutics, a 5.5-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based developer of a device to lower blood sugar levels, raised $1.6 million in funding. Joyance Partners and Pär Gellerfors, a founder of the biotechnology company BioArctic, co-led the round. Nordic Life Science News has more here

Spirable, a five-year-old, London based self-serve ad platform, has raised £6 million in Series A funding led by Smedvig Capital, with participation from earlier backers Frontline VenturesDowning Ventures and 24 Haymarket. TechCrunch has more here

Zippity, a two-year-old, Boston-based car maintenance company that partners with businesses to provide their employees with comprehensive repair, diagnostic, and detailing services at the workplace, raised $3 million in seed funding. Schooner Capital led, joined by BP Ventures and LaunchPad VenturesMore here

Not-Saying-How-Much Fundings  

Rimac Automobili, a 10-year-old, Zagreb, Croatia-based electric vehicle components and hypercar company, has taken on an undisclosed amount of funding from Porsche in exchange for 15.5 percent of the company. Porsche already owned 10 percent of the startup. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds 

Valor Capital Group, an eight-year-old an investment firm focused on Brazil and U.S.-Brazil cross-border opportunities, is looking to raise up to $150 million for its third fund and a separate $150 million for an opportunities fund to invest in its breakout portfolio companies, according to two SEC filings. More here

Vista Equity Partners, the 19-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based gobbler of enterprise software companies, has closed its seventh flagship tech buyout fund with $16 billion in capital commitments, says the WSJ, which reports that the firm plans to chip in money of its own on top of that, enough to account for between 4% and 6% of the fund’s total size, according to its sources. The fund is apparently the largest tech-focused fund ever raised by an independent private equity firm, which may have Silver Lake and Thoma Bravo, whose most recent funds closed with $15 billion and $12.6 billion, respectively, gnashing their teeth.


Prudential Financial is buying a three-year-old, Seattle-based online insurance startup, Assurance IQ, for $2.35 billion. It’s the latest in a series of moves by traditional insurers to up investment in technology and data crunching by buying Silicon Valley startups, notes Reuters. Assurance sells life, health, Medigap and auto policies online, and it has agents available by phone to help consumers with buying decisions if they want a human to answer questions, adds the WSJ. Amazingly, unlike numerous insure-tech startups to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from investors, Assurance was bootstrapped, says GeekWire.  

uBiome, the San Francisco-based lab-testing startup that’s under federal investigation for its billing practices, filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday and put its assets up for sale after suspending testing of its clinical products. In filing for chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del.,  it has lined up an $8 million bankruptcy loan to keep its business open while it looks for a buyer. The WSJ has more here.


Dermavant Sciences, a Phase 3 biotech developing in-licensed therapies for dermatological diseases, officially withdrew its plans for an initial public offering today. It had originally filed in June 2019 to raise $100 million by offering 7.7 million shares at a price range of $12 to $14, but it postponed later that month on the day it was set to price. 

Dermavant is a subsidiary of Roivant Sciences, which has become one of the most highly valued private firms in the history of the biotech industry, with a $7 billion valuation, thanks in part to a $200 million round that closed late last year and included SoftBank’s Vision Fund, which had also given the company $1.1 billion in 2017. Roivant has before and since taken several companies public, including Axovant, Myovant Sciences, and Urovant Sciences.  

Roivant also just sold its ownership stake in five “Vant” biopharma companies to Japanese pharma Sumitomo Dainippon for $3 billion.  As STAT reports, the deal further grants Sumitomo an option to acquire six additional Roivant spinout companies, access to Roivant’s technology platforms, and a 10 percent ownership stake in Roivant. Worth noting: STAT thinks the deal with Sumitomo is a lot better deal for Roivant founder and CEO Vivek Ramaswamy than for public company shareholders. Ramaswamy, who has long been a controversial figure in the biotech world, spoke at one of our StrictlyVC events two years ago.


Linus Liang was promoted to partner at Signia Venture Partners. Liang joined the firm as a principal in 2015 after cofounding a company focused around lower-cost incubators for newborn infants. 

At Goldman Sachs, older partners are getting tapped on the shoulder in order to clear the way for younger staff who want to step up, says the Financial Times. It further reports that, according to its sources, chief executive David Solomon is trying to shrink the pool of partners at the firm in order to fashion a more exclusive club at the top of the organization.

Sponsored By …

Crises surround us: Boeing. Theranos. Capital One. Papa Johns. Equifax… is your company next? From the hottest companies in Silicon Valley to the White House voices shaping our nation, learn from the experts how to predict, manage, and recover from a crisis and take a light-hearted look at navigating some of the biggest crises to hit the front page. The 2nd annual CrisisCon is October 10 @ Fort Mason’s Cowell Theater. Register today using promo code “StrictlyVC” for discounted tix to this exclusive event and attendee-only networking happy hour.

Essential Reads 

It looks like Uber is getting into the small loan business for its drivers. Stripe, the world’s most valuable private fintech company, is also getting into lending, to online companies looking to grow their businesses. Facebook said earlier this week that it’s changing its face recognition settings, but the Electric Frontier Foundation notes the announcement is deliberately vague.


Horrifying engagement photos. 

How to do custom sneakers the right way

Investors were disappointed recently when Boeing announced delays in delivering its first 777X model into next year. Now, they’re like, hey, take your time!

Retail Therapy 

superyacht that’s “like the St. Regis on water.”

Filed Under:

Don’t Miss Out!

Sign up today to receive a free daily email with everything you need to start your day. Plus, keep track of the companies and personalities that will shape the industry in the months and years to come. Let StrictlyVC be your very own venture capital concierge.

StrictlyVC on Twitter