October 15, 2019

Tuesday! Happy birthday to our beloved first subscriber! Also, thanks to those of you who let us know that Russell Wilson is very much the current, not former, Seattle Seahawks quarterback. We really *fumbled* that one. (You collectively know about a million times more about the NFL than we do, and we appreciate the help.)  

Also! Carta, the seven-year-old ownership and equity management platform company that helps investors, startups, and startup employees manage their shares, has joined us as a sponsor in our November 13th event. Partnerships make it possible for us to pull these evenings together, so giant thanks, Carta. 

More tomorrow.

Top News 

Google held its annual “Made By Google” hardware event this morning in New York, where it launched all sorts of new gear. Here’s everything you might have missed

Holy moly, WeWork’s cash position is depleting so quickly that the company could be out of money within a month, say CNBC sources. It reports that SoftBank and J.P. Morgan Chase are still discussing a plan to provide a combination of equity and debt to keep the beleaguered company afloat.

Sponsored By …

Reality check … you’re not a VC! You can’t get access to the same private companies as Marc Andreessen and Peter Thiel. Enter EquityZen. EquityZen gives accredited investors access to pre-IPO tech companies through its pooled funds. Explore companies like Stripe, Rivian Automotive and SpaceX today. Learn more.

David Sacks’s Craft Ventures Just Closed Its Second Fund with $500 Million 

Craft Ventures, the venture firm launched in 2017 by serial entrepreneur David Sacks, has closed its second fund with $500 million in capital commitments, an amount the firm was said to begin targeting roughly a year ago. 

Craft’s debut fund had closed with $350 million. 

The outfit — which Sacks runs with other serial entrepreneurs Bill Lee (Remarq, Social Concepts), Jeff Fluhr (StubHub, Spreecast), and Sky Dayton (who has founded and cofounded a lot of companies) — invests in series seed, A, and B rounds, in a wide range of companies that neatly fit into each investor’s wheelhouse. 

For his part, Sacks, who was the COO of PayPal before founding the genealogy website Geni.com, then Yammer, is focused on both consumer and enterprise startups as long as they can go viral. 

His signature bet at Craft is Bird, the e-scooter company whose Series A round Craft had led. (Bird more recently closed its Series D round.) 

Fluhr focuses on marketplaces and e-commerce startups and the firm cites as one of his more prominent deals the Series A round of the nursing marketplace Trusted Health. Lee is focused on breakthrough technologies and counts among his investments the esports company Cloud9, a company that went on to raise $50 million in Series B funding last year (and is probably due to announce yet another round soon). 

Meanwhile, Dayton — who is very notably a cofounder with Travis Kalanick in CloudKitchens, the dark kitchen company that’s literally trying to take over the world —  focuses on so-called hard tech, drawing on his experience in launching the dial-up pioneer EarthLink, along with the WiFi service provider Boingo Wireless. 

All four have impressive portfolios as angel investors, including bets on Affirm, Airbnb, Facebook, Houzz, and Slack, though naturally, they’ve also backed startups that haven’t proved winners. An investment in the HR payroll startup Zenefits proved particularly trying for Sacks, who acquired a sizable stake in the company and — when its founding CEO, Parker Conrad, was ousted amid a regulatory scandal — stepped in to try and fix its errant ways. (He left after less than a year at the helm.) 

It’s too soon to know if they’ll have as much success as a team. 

More here.

Massive Fundings  

Algolia, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based company that’s one in a group of startups that provides search as a service for websites and apps as an alternative to Google and other search engines, has raised $110 million in Series C funding. Accel led the round, joined by Salesforce Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

Level Home, a three-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based startup that was founded by Apple veterans and that promises to transform any deadbolt into a connected lock, has raised $71 million from WalmartHut 8 Ventures, and Lennar. VentureBeat has more here

Revolut, the four-year-old, U.K.-based challenger bank, is reportedly looking to raise $1.5 billion with the help of JPMorgan. The funding could take the form of $500 million in equity and a $1 billion convertible loan and would give the startup a valuation of between $5 to $10 billion, says Business Insider. Neither Revolut nor JPMorgan is commenting, More here

Wheels, a year-old, San Francisco-based dockless e-bike rental company startup founded by Wag founders Jonathan and Joshua Viner, has raised $50 million led by DBL Partners. The company has now raised $87 million altogether. More here.  

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

Abalos Therapeutics, a new Essen, Germany-based developer of oncologic immuno-virotherapies, has raised €12 million in Series A financing co-led by BIVF and Gruenderfonds RuhrMore here

Azitra, a five-year-old, Farmington, Ct.-based medical dermatology startup, has raised $14 million in Series A funding co-led by KdT Ventures and Bios Partners, with participation from Connecticut Innovations and Godfrey CapitalMore here

CleverTap, a six-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based user retention platform, has raised $35 million in Series C funding co-led by Tiger Global Management and Sequoia India in a deal that values the firm at $385 million. VentureBeat has more here

Cyteir Therapeutics, a nearly two-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based cancer therapy startup, just raised $40.2 million in new Series B funding, bringing the total round to $75.2 million. Novo Holdings led the round, joined by VenrockDROIA Oncology VenturesOsage University PartnersLightstone Ventures and CelgeneMore here

Flowhub, a four-year-old, Denver-based cannabis retail management software vendor, has raised $23 million from a consortium of investors including e.venturesEvolv Ventures (the Kraft Heinz-backed venture capital fund) and Poseidon Asset Management. TechCrunch has more here.  

Havenly, a five-year-old, Denver-based home interior decorating design and e-commerce company, has raised $32 million in Series C funding from Foundry GroupLerer HippeauKickstart Ventures, and Gingerbread Capital. TechCrunch has more here

Herow, a 12-year-old, Paris- and New York-based contextual marketing platform focused on mobile applications, has raised $18.6 million in Series B funding, including from Xerys FundSiparex, and Calao FinanceMore here

Mathpresso, a four-year-old, Seoul, South Korea-based math homework app, has raised $14.5 million in Series B funding from Legend CapitalInterVestNP Investments, and Mirae Asset Venture Investment. TechCrunch has more here.

Thimble, a year-old, Chicago-based company that sells short-term insurance to small businesses and freelancers, has raised $22 million in Series A funding. IAC led the round, joined by earlier investors Slow VenturesAXA Venture Partners, and Open Ocean. Note that until today, the company was known as Verifly. TechCrunch has more here

True Balance, a five-year-old, Seoul, South Korea-based payments app for small cities and towns in India, has raised $23 million in Series C funding from NH Investment & SecuritiesIBK CapitalD3 Jubilee PartnersSB PartnersShinhan Capital, and earlier investors IMM Investment and HB Investment. TechCrunch has more here

Smaller Fundings  

Cashforce, a six-year-old, Belgium-based cash forecasting and working capital management startup, has raised €5 million in Series A funding co-led by INKEF Capital and Citi Ventures, with participation from Pamica and Volta Ventures. Tech.eu has more here

Relative Insight, a seven-year-old, London-based market research tool that began by helping law enforcement monitor social platforms, has raised $5 million from Maven Capital PartnersMore here

Rho Business, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based digital banking platform for high-growth startups that’s hoping to compete with the very well-funded startup Brex, has raised $4.9 million in seed funding led by Inspired Capital. Crunchbase News has more here

Sofant Technologies, a seven-year-old, Edinburgh, Scotland-based company that’s making radio-frequency microelectromechanical systems, has raised roughly $2.3 million in funding led by Kelvin Capital, with participation from EMV Capital among others. More here

Strapi, a three-year-old, Paris, France-based “headless” content management system, has raised $4 million in seed funding co- led by Accel and Stride.vc. TechCrunch does a nice job of explaining better what the company does here

ZitSticka, a two-year-old, New York-based skincare brand, raised $5 million in Series A funding led by BFG VenturesMore here.

New Funds 

M13, a three-year-old, L.A.-based venture firm that’s focused on consumer tech and participated in early rounds in Pinterest, Lyft, Ring, and Bird, says it has closed its new fund with $175 million in capital commitments. Crunchbase News has more here.


Intel has agreed to purchase a software business from Toronto-based Pivot Technology Solutions for $27 million, the U.S. chipmaker said today. Intel said it would buy Smart Edge, a computing platform that helps split up data and store it closer to users to make computing devices respond faster. More here.


Neil Woodford ’s investment empire imploded on Tuesday as the U.K.’s best-known fund manager was fired from his flagship fund and he walked away from his remaining two investment vehicles. The Financial Times has more here

Facebook software engineer told CNBC today that he was fired by the company for speaking out about his colleague’s suicide last month. A Facebook spokesperson has a different story, though, telling the outlet: “This employee was not fired for joining a protest or talking about the recent tragedy on our campus. He was here for a matter of weeks, and showed poor judgement in a string of policy violations. We won’t stand for our employees intimidating one another.” More here.

Sponsored By …

Fintech Harness Wealth has built a process to help clients, on average, identify $100K+ in potential untapped financial value over time. They help you see whether you are missing out on maximizing your wealth and find the best financial advisers, tax professionals and/or trust & estate attorneys to help you capture it. Learn more at Harness Wealth

Essential Reads 

Well, it’s better than a kick in the pants: Twitter said today it will restrict how users can interact with tweets from world leaders who break its rules. Twitter said it won’t allow users to like, reply, share, or retweet the offending tweets but instead let users “quote-tweet” to allow users to express their opinions. 

Epic has wiped the slate clean, rebooting its “Fortnite” game with an all-new Chapter 2, which introduces a brand-new location to explore. The company is clearly hoping it can revive its fortunes. The Verge has more here

Applications to some of America’s elite business schools is falling fast as universities struggle to attract international students amid changes to immigration policies and political tensions between the U.S. and China.


Fifty suggestions that will make you feel good. (H/T: Tim Ferriss)  

Inside Palazzo Colonna

“Fight Club” 20 years later.

Retail Therapy 

A 2,900-square-foot DIY log cabin is available on Amazon. (Additional materials —  like, a lot of them — required.)

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