October 16, 2019


Top News 

Huh. Shares of Netflix soared more than 10 percent in extended trading today after the company reported mixed results, with earnings that beat expectations, a miss on domestic subscriber adds, and revenue that slightly missed analysts’ expectations. CNBC has more here

OGs, take note: Yahoo announced today that it will stop allowing users to post new content to any Yahoo Group this coming Monday and that it’s deleting all Yahoo Groups content in December.

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Fun fact: Amazon went public in 1997 with $16 million in revenue and a market cap of $438 million. #ThoseWereTheDays. Unless you can write a $1 million check, it’s almost impossible to get exposure to early stage tech. Enter EquityZen. EquityZen allows accredited investors to access proven pre-IPO tech firms like Impossible Foods, SpaceX, Stripe, Rivian Automotive and Epic Games through its pooled funds. Explore EquityZen’s secondary market today.

Shoe Companies Rothy’s and Steve Madden Are At Each Other’s Throats 

In August, after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from the venture-backed shoe startup Rothy’s, shoe giant Steven Madden filed a pre-emptive lawsuit asking a federal court to rule that its Rosy Flat shoes don’t copy design elements of the Point ballet flat that Rothy’s began selling soon after its 2015 launch. 

More, it asked that seven related patents that Rothy’s has been issued — and that Rothy’s has accused Madden of infringing — be declared invalid. 

Now, Rothy’s is batting back again, today filing counterclaims of design patent and trade dress infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition, while also managing to get in a sick burn, writing in its filing that instead of “pursuing independent product development, Madden has chosen to slavishly copy Rothy’s product design in violation of Rothy’s valuable intellectual property rights.” 

It’s hard to argue they aren’t copycats once you see both shoes. Nearly as galling to Rothy’s, Steve Madden’s shoes retail for half the price.  

Steve Madden — now a 29-year-old company that’s publicly traded, valued by investors at $3 billion and largely still run by Steve Madden himself (he’s its creative and design chief) — is known for finding inspiration in the work of other brands that wish it would not. Among a handful of companies to tangle legally with the shoe titan in recent years is venture-backed Allbirds,  which accused Steve Madden of copying its wool trainer in 2017. 

More here.

Massive Fundings  

Healx, a five-year-old, Cambridge, England-based drug discovery platform for rare diseases, has raised $56 million in Series B funding led by Atomico, with participation from Intel CapitalGlobal BrainBtov Partners and earlier backers Balderton CapitalAmadeus Capital Partners, and entrepreneur-investor  Jonathan Milner. FierceBiotech has more here

MyGate, a three-year-old, Bangalore, India-based startup that offers security management and convenience service for guard-gated premises, has raised $56 million in Series B funding from internet giant TencentTiger Global ManagementJS Capital, and earlier investor Prime Venture Partners. MyGate has now raised $67.5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

Pensando Systems, a year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based end-to-end edge software-defined services platform created by by top former Cisco execs Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain, Luca Cafiero, and Soni Jiandani, emerged from stealth mode today with $145 million in Series C funding led by Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The company, which had quietly raised $71 million in Series A funding and $62 million in Series B funding, has already amassed $278 million altogether. VentureBeat has more here.

Provivi, a six-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based startup that produces pesticide alternatives for farmers based on insect pheromones, has raised $85 million in Series C funding. Pontifax and an undisclosed fund co-led the round, joined by Tybourne Capital Management and earlier investors Kairos VenturesSpruce CapitalLanx Capital, and BASF. AgFunder News has more here

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

Building Engines, a 19-year-old, Boston-based SaaS-driven operations platform for commercial real estate, just raised $12.7 million led by Wavecrest Growth Partners, with participation from River Cities Capital FundsMassMutual Ventures, and Camber Creek VenturesMore here

Lively, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based company that provides what it’s pitching as better Health Savings Accounts, has raised $27 million in Series B funding. Costanoa Ventures led the round, joined by Ally VenturesLiquid 2 VenturesPJCTeamworthy VenturesStreamlined Ventures, and Y CombinatorMore here

McMakler, a four-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based real estate platform, has raised $20 million in funding from Balderton Capital and GR CapitalMore here

Smaller Fundings  

Autify, a three-year-old, Tokyo-based platform that makes testing web application as easy as clicking a few buttons, has raised a $2.5 million seed round from Global BrainSalesforce VenturesArchetype Ventures and several angels. TechCrunch has more here

Mable, a 10-month-old, Boston-based wholesale commerce platform that helps small food and grocery businesses stock their shelves with local and emerging brands (it was founded by Arik Keller, whose last company was acquired by Facebook), has raised $3.1 million in seed funding. Investors in the round include VenrockAccomplice, and Founder CollectiveMore here

SharpCloud Software, a seven-year-old, London-based company that makes business collaboration software, just raised £4.5 million from YFM Equity Partners and British Smaller Companies VCTMore here.

New Funds 

Clean Energy Ventures, a two-year-old, Boston-based venture firm that’s investing in early-stage companies looking to commercialize more advanced energy technologies, says it has closed its debut fund with $110 million in capital commitments. More here

Insignia Ventures Partners, a two-year-old, Singapore-based venture capital group, has closed its second fund with $200 million in capital commitments, The Business Times reports. More here.


Quentin Clark resigned a couple of weeks ago as the CTO of Dropbox at the same time that the storage company announced two other execs — Bharat Mediratta and Tim Young — were joining its leadership team in Clark’s stead. Now we know where Clark was headed — into the world of venture capital and, more specifically, into a role as a managing director with the 19-year-old venture firm General Catalyst. We talked with him to learn a bit more

The Boston Retirement System is the latest pension plan to pull its money from Ken Fisher’s investment firm after the billionaire made off-color comments at a conference last week. He’s down about $1 billion so far, reports CNBC. 

Big news from New York Times writer Mike Isaac. “Billions” creators and show runners will serve as writers and executive producers on a new limited series for Showtime based on Isaac’s book “Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber.” Isaac will serve as co-executive producer on the project. Variety has more here

When Elon Musk smoked weed on YouTube host Joe Rogan’s show, it may have inadvertently cost taxpayers $5 million

On November 6, when Uber‘s lockup period expires, drivers for the company are reportedly planning to demonstrate outside at least three investors’ homes and offices, including Bill Gurley in Silicon Valley and Uber co-founder Garrett Camp in L.A.

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Samsung NEXT Ventures is hiring a principal. The job is based in Mountain View, Ca.

Essential Reads 

Inside Facebook’s botched attempt to start a new cryptocurrency. 

Current machine learning models aren’t yet up to the task of distinguishing false news reports,  new MIT research shows. 

Instagram will give you more power over your third party apps . . . in about six months

Those bailout proposals for WeWork are almost definitely coming


A look at the best in this year’s nature photography

Understanding the low-key jewelry on “Succession.” 

That is some terrible fan.

Retail Therapy 

The Vatican is hoping to attract tech-savvy youngsters to the Catholic Church with the launch of a “Click to Pray” e-rosary. What’s next: bitcoin in the collection basket? (We worked on that one.)

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