September 11, 2019

Wednesday! Hello!

Top News

The Trump administration said today that it will ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes. Alex Azar, the health and human services secretary, said that the Food and Drug Administration will outline a plan within  weeks for removing flavored e-cigarettes and nicotine pods from the market, excluding tobacco flavors. We talked with Juul founders Adam Bowen and James Monsees at a StrictlyVC event last year about why, facing growing scrutiny from the FDA, schools, and other corners, the company wouldn’t simply stop selling flavored cigarettes. They argued, and continue to argue, that the flavors help adult consumers stay away from smoking.  

California lawmakers approved a statewide rent cap today covering millions of tenants, the biggest step yet to address an affordable-housing crunch.

Sponsored By …

Whether you’re an employee of a startup looking to diversify your portfolio or an angel investor seeking liquidity from an early investment, EquityZen can help you get the liquidity you deserve. EquityZen helps you sell your employee equity to fund life’s biggest expenses: a new home, student loans, an engagement ring or even your dream car. List your shares and discover your true net worth today.

Mark Hurd, the Co-CEO of Oracle, is Taking a Leave of Absence

Mark Hurd, one two CEOs leading the database software giant Oracle, is taking a leave of absence owing to health reasons, he told employees in a letter today. Oracle has not specified what Hurd’s health issue is or how long he is expected to be away. 

Hurd joined Oracle nine years ago, after spending five years with Hewlett-Packard where he was CEO, president, and, ultimately, board chairman, all roles from which he was pressured to resign in 2010 after submitting inaccurate expense reports designed to conceal what H-P described at the time as his “close personal relationship” with a female contractor who helped with H-P’s marketing. 

The news shocked many outsiders given Hurd’s performance, which saw the shares of H-P double on his watch, though the board suggested that it had little choice after the contractor’s lawyer, celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, contacted the company, charging sexual harassment. (“This was a necessary decision,” said then-director Marc Andreessen at the time.) 

Hurd left with $12,224,693 in severance. The very next month, Larry Ellison, a friend of Hurd, named him the co-president of Oracle, the company Ellison had himself founded in the summer of 1977. Said then-CEO Ellison in a statement relating to the move, “Mark did a brilliant job at H-P, and I expect he’ll do even better at Oracle. There is no executive in the I.T. world with more relevant experience than Mark.” 

Indeed, when Ellison stepped down as the CEO of Oracle in 2014 to become the company’s chief technology officer instead, he promoted to Hurd to the role of CEO, a role he has since shared with Oracle’s former CFO, Safra Catz. 

More here.

Massive Fundings 

JobTeaser, an 11-year-old, Paris-based graduate recruitment platform, has raised $55 million in Series C funding led by Highland Europe, with participation from earlier backers AlvenIdinvest PartnersSeventure Partners, and Korelya Capital. TechCrunch has more here

Rivian, a 10-year-old, Plymouth, Mi.-based electric vehicle company that’s building a pick-up and SUV that it plans to launch in the U.S. next year, just raised $350 million from Cox Automotive. The funding follows two other big rounds for the company — $500 million from Ford and a $700 million round led by Amazon — earlier this year. TechCrunch has more here

Samsara, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based company that sells hardware and a monthly cloud-based software subscription that helps industrial companies collect and analyze data, has raised $300 million in Series F funding that values the company at a whopping $6.3 billion. Tiger Global Management and Dragoneer join Andreessen Horowitz and General Catalyst in the late-stage round, bringing the San Francisco-based company’s total funding to $530 million. Forbes has the story here

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings

Atlas Obscura, a 10-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based travel and exploration website, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Airbnb, with participation from A+E Networks and New Atlantic Ventures. The WSJ reports that as part of the deal, Airbnb will offer users the ability to book Atlas Obscura trips and events through Airbnb’s site and mobile app, for which Airbnb will take a cut. More here

Cimcon, a seven-year-old, Burlington, Ma.-based maker of wireless outdoor lighting management software, has raised $33 million in Series C funding and a $10 million revenue-sharing facility. Digital Alpha led the equity piece of the round; it was joined by earlier investor Energy Impact Partners. American Inno has more here

ComplianceQuest, a six-year-old, Tampa, Fla.-based maker of software for quality management teams, has raised $36 million in Series A funding led by Insight PartnersMore here

Earnest Research, a seven-year-old, New York-based data analytics company that helps companies understand consumer and business behavior, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Pivot Investment Partners, with participation from earlier backers GreycroftOsage, and Bonfire VenturesMore here

Explorium, a two-year-old, Israel-based data discovery platform for machine learning models, has quietly raised two rounds of funding totaling $19.1 million from investors that include EmergeF2 Capital, and Zeev Ventures, among others. TechCrunch has more here, a 1.5-year-old, Miami, Fla.-based platform that offers live and interactive mediation and movement classes for workplaces, has closed on $3 million in funding from SoftBank Capital NYMore here

Neighborhood Goods, a two-year-old, Dallas, Tex.-based department store where new and old brands can carve out dedicated shelf space to sell merchandise (some of its tenants include Rothy’s, Dollar Shave Club and Stadium Goods) has raised $11 million in new funding. Global Founders Capital led the round, joined by earlier backers Forerunner VenturesSerena VenturesNextGen Venture PartnersAllen ExplorationCapital Factory and others. The company has now raised $25.5 million to date. TechCrunch has more here

Numerated, a two-year-old, Boston-based real-time sales platform for banks looking to quickly prequalify customers for products, has raised $15 million in Series B funding. Patriot Financial Partners led the round, joined by VenrockFinTop Capital, and Hyperplane. Finextra has more here

Sourced Group, a nine-year-old, Toronto, Canada-based IT consulting firm that’s focused on cloud computing, has raised C$20 million ($15.2 million) led by Round 13 Capital, with participation from Comerica Bank and HSBCMore here

ScyllaDB, a four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based real-time big data database company, has raised $25 million in funding led by Eight Roads Ventures. Earlier investors Bessemer Venture PartnersMagma Venture PartnersQualcomm Ventures and TLV Partners also joined  the round. The company has now raised $60 million altogether. More here.

WaveOptics, a seven-year-old, London-based company that develops core optical components for augmented reality displays, just raised $13 million in Series C funding that brings the total round to $39 million. The fresh capital comes from a partner to the company: the Chinese electronics outfit Goertek. VentureBeat has more here

Smaller Fundings

Caper, a nearly four-year-old, New York-based startup trying to develop a shopping cart that uses computer vision and other sensors to let shoppers quickly scan items as they drop them into their carts, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. Lux Capital led the round, joined by Red Apple Group and earlier investors Y CombinatorFirst Round CapitalHardware ClubSidekick Fund, and FundersClub. TechCrunch has more here.

Cyware Labs, a three-year-old, New York-based threat intelligence sharing startup, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Emerald Development Managers.More here

Flatfile, a year-old, Denver, Co.-based customer data organization startup, has raised $2 million in pre-seed funding led by Afore CapitalMore here

Hawthorne, a four-year-old, New York-based maker of men’s health and beauty products, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Imaginary Ventures, joined by Comcast VenturesFounder Collective, and Shana Fisher. Built in NYC has more here

Kuda, a 1.5-year-old, Lagos, Nigeria-based digital-only retail bank with a presence in London, has raised $1.6 million in pre-seed funding from numerous angel investors. TechCrunch has more here

Moodify, a 2.5-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based company that is developing scents with the aim of improving performance and well-being, has raised $1.6 million in funding led by Next Gear Ventures, with participation from earlier backer Toyota AI VenturesMore here

New Culture, a young, San Francisco-based company making cheese through genetically engineered microbes, has closed a $3.5 million seed round of funding led by Evolv Ventures, the venture fund of Kraft-Heinz. Bee PartnersMayfieldCPT CapitalBoost VC, and SOSV also participated in the round. The Spoon has more here

Realized, a four-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based startup that helps investors diversify wealth from legacy properties into passive real estate portfolios, has raised $6 million in Series A funding. Calibrate Ventures led the round, joined by Rice Park Capital. The Austin American Statesman has more here

Not-Saying-How-Much Fundings  

Anduril Industries, a two-year-old, Orange County, Ca.-based company that was founded by Oculus founder Palmer Lucky and whose border control technology includes towers with cameras and infrared sensors that use artificial intelligence to track movement, is raising an undisclosed amount of funding, at a reported $1 billion valuation, says CNBC. It says that according to its sources, the round includes Andreessen Horowitz, which was also an investor in Oculus. More here

New Funds

Franklin Templeton, the global investment firm, has raised $84.8 million in capital commitments from 17 investors for a venture fund, shows a new SEC filing. The fund is called Franklin Blackhorse; it’s based in San Mateo, Ca.


CloudFlare, the San Francisco-based web performance and security company, has revealed plans to plans to raise $455 million in its IPO by selling 35 million shares priced between $13 to $14, up from a previous $10 to $12. Absent an unforeseen disaster, the firm’s shares will begin trading publicly on Friday.  

Prosus, a spinoff of the publicly traded South African consumer internet group Naspers, listed on the Amsterdam Euronext exchange today. The holding company is an effort by Naspers to separate its own valuation from its very valuable stake in Tencent Holdings, though it contains positions in roughly 20 companies altogether


Alex Arfaei has joined life sciences-focused venture firm Pappas Capital as a partner. He was previously a managing director with BMO Capital Markets.  

Jennifer Skyler, chief communications officer for WeWork, has left the company, just two months after WeWork’s vice president of corporate communications, Dominic McMullen, announced that he was leaving to spend more time in Brooklyn with his family. 

Sponsored By …

Don’t miss Silicon Valley’s premiere crisis communications conference. Enter “STRICTLYVC” at checkout for an insider discount, which ends 9/16. Tickets are selling fast, register today!

Essential Reads 

Uber suggested today that it plans to fight a landmark bill that reclassifies gig economy workers as employees instead of contractors, using the argument ath drivers aren’t part of Uber’s “usual course” of business. To which we say, good luck? If Uber and Lyft can’t carve out exemptions for themselves, their costs could rise an estimated 25 percent to 35 percent, says CNBC. 


A teenage girl wakes up every morning thinking it is June 11th. People recognize objects by visualizing their “skeletons.” Why humans are lazy. (Not you, other humans.)

Retail Therapy 

More $50 million ranches for sale. Must love animal carcasses.

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