• September 18, 2019

    Wednesday! Before we jump into things, a note that our November 13 event at NextWorld Capital in San Francisco is starting to come together and it’s going to be great. Among our featured guests, Alex Stamos, the former chief security officer of Facebook and currently an adjunct professor at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, is joining the program to share his unique perspective on what to expect as we approach this next U.S. presidential election next year — as well how the backlash against tech could play out (and what the implications are for startups).  

    We’re also thrilled that Sheera Frenkel, cybersecurity correspondent for the New York Times, can join us to conduct this particular interview. Frenkel knows her stuff and will get some interesting answers out of Stamos, no doubt. It should be a great conversation. 

    We’ll have more for you soon on the event in the coming weeks. Thanks again to KCPR, the boutique public relations and strategy firm with a growing number of venture capital and startup clients, for its generous support in the evening. If you’re also interested in sponsoring this event or others, please contact Alex at alex@strictlyvc.com

    More soon.:)

    Top News

    AB5, a bill that aims to give full employee status to gig economy workers, was signed into law today by California Governor Gavin Newsom, who had signaled his earlier support for it. More here.

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    Netflix Cofounder Marc Randolph on the Company’s Earliest Days, the Streaming Wars, and Moving On

    Netflix is today a company whose valuation hovers around $130 billion, but it was, of course, once a little startup, and in his new book “That Will Never Work,” Netflix’s cofounder and its first CEO Marc Randolph takes readers on a fun and surprisingly vivid journey through the streaming giant’s earliest days. 

    It’s also instructive, though this is more memoir than business book, and Randolph, who is the great nephew of Edward Bernays — a public relations pioneer — turns out to be a very compelling writer, explaining in sometimes humbling detail how and why the company eventually outgrew him, and the reason he doesn’t regret stepping away when he did. 

    In fact, rather than lament past decisions, Randolph seems to relish his longtime work as a startup advisor, one who often has no financial ties to the companies he helps. As he explains it, there is a “role for someone in a founder’s life who isn’t a board member or an investor or an employee. The role of a founder-CEO is extremely lonely. You can’t always be fully forthcoming with your board or investors or employees. And if you go to your peers and you bring them an issue, they don’t really understand. So it’s very valuable for a founder who doesn’t have an ulterior motive but also understands a problem well enough that they can give really good advice.” 

    We had a chance to catch up with Randolph earlier today to discuss the book and his current relationship with his Netflix cofounder Reed Hastings, who he met when the company that Hastings began running in 1991, Pure Atria, acquired Randolph’s company, Integrity QA Software, (They both found themselves searching out the next big thing when Pure Atria was itself acquired.) 

    Randolph also shared why it took him 16 years to tell his story about what has become one of the most impactful companies in the history of television. 

    We’re still zipping through the book, but there is a lot of great storytelling here, from scenes with you and Reed carpooling to the office together, to other startup ideas you ran past him and he didn’t think much of, including customized baseball bats. Did you write this alone? 

    Of course, I had help; you can’t write about something as important as Netflix by yourself. Over the course of one-and-a-half years, I spent tons of time on the phone and [engaged in] email correspondence and in meetings with everyone I could track down, because I wanted to hear all those stories again. But this isn’t a ghostwritten book and it’s not an as-told-to book. I did write it with the help of a great editor. In fact, the book was originally conceived a more of a self-help book, but my editor came back and said, “You shouldn’t do this as a ‘you’ book. Make it a ‘me’ book. Make the lessons you’ve learn over your career implicit instead of explicit.” But I’ve been writing all my life. I was a direct marketing guy [before founding Netflix]. I had to restrain myself from writing things like, “Frankly, I’m puzzled,” and “But wait! There’s more!” 

    You left Netflix in 2003. Why not write a book sooner? 

    I needed to wait all that time. Even though I needed to tell the story, I didn’t really understand the lessons. It has taken me working with other early-stage companies and mentoring them and investing in them to make these connections. Why did Netflix work? What were my failings? What could I have done better? 

    You’re pretty candid in the book about not being punctual and not having great attention to detail, but these are minor offenses.  

    Yes, and Netflix was my sixth startup so I’d figured out how to address those things by relying on the people I work with. But there’s a part of the book where we’re raising our Series B and the pitches aren’t going well. Reed, at that time, was my largest investor and the chairman of the company [having written the company its first check], and he was coming with me on these pitch meetings and reviewing the financials, but he wasn’t actively involved in the company. Then, one evening, while I’m sitting at my desk, he pops his head in and delivers those words that no one wants to hear. “Marc, we need to talk.” 

    More here.

    Massive Fundings

    Acronis, a 16-year-old, Switzerland-based maker of cybersecurity software, has raised $147 million in funding led by Goldman Sachs. The company isn’t disclosing its precise post-money valuation, but founder and CEO Serguei Beloussov tells TechCrunch that it’s between $1 billion and $2 billion. More here

    GitLab, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based popular DevOps platform, has raised $268 million in Series E funding that brings its post-money valuation to $2.75 billion. Investors include Adage Capital ManagementAlkeon CapitalAltimeter CapitalCapital GroupCoatue ManagementD1 Capital PartnersFranklin TempletonLight Street CapitalTiger Management Corp. and Two Sigma Investments. The company has long stated that it plans to go public on November 18, 2020, which is the 100th birthday of the CEO’s grandfather. More here

    Ironclad, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that aims to make it easier for legal teams to manage their contracts workflow, just raised $50 million in Series C funding.Y Combinator Continuity led the round, with participation from Emergence Capital and earlier investors, including Accel and Sequoia Capital. This round brings the company’s total funding to $83 million, according to Crunchbase. TechCrunch has more here

    PlayVS, a 1.5-year-old, L.A.-based platform that allows high school students to compete on varsity esports teams through their school, has closed on $50 million in Series C funding led by earlier investor NEA. Other investors in the round, which brings the young company’s funding to $96 million, include Battery Ventures, Dick Costolo and Adam Bain of 01 AdvisorsSapphire SportMichael ZeisserDennis Phelps of IVP and CAA cofounder Michael Ovitz. TechCrunch has more here.

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings

    Dental Intelligence, a seven-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based company that makes workflow automation software for dental practices, has raised $34 million in Series A funding from K1 Investment ManagementMore here

    Linnaeus Therapeutics, a three-year-old, Philadelphia, Pa..-based developer on oncology therapeutics, has raised $12 million in Series B funding led by Kairos Ventures, with participation from the Penn Medicine Co-Investment FundMore here

    Simple Feast, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of plant-based fast food, has raised $33 million in Series B funding led by 14W,  with participation from numerous early backers, including Balderton Capital. TechCrunch has more here

    Themis Bioscience, a 10-year-old, Vienna, Austria-based developer of immunomodulation therapies, has raised €40 million in Series D funding co-led by Farallon Capital and Hadean Ventures. Other investors in the round include MSDAdjuvant Capital and earlier investors Global Health Investment Fundaws GruenderfondsOmnes CapitalVentech, and Wellington Partners. FierceBiotech has more here

    Wanderjaunt, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based vacation property management company, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Founders Fund, with participation from Tribe Capital among others. More here.

    Smaller Fundings

    Celona, a months-old, Cupertino, Ca.-based 5G enterprise company that says it’s focused on enabling the next generation of AI-powered business critical apps in the enterprise, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Investors include Norwest Venture PartnersLightspeed Venture Partners, and Cervin VenturesMore here

    Cortilia, an eight-year-old, Milan, Italy-based e-commerce business delivering fresh food products, has raised €8.5 million ($9.4 million) from investors, including Five Seasons Ventures and Indaco Venture PartnersMore here

    Idelic, a three-year-old, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based data analytics startup focused on improving safety in the commercial and industrial transportation market, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Origin Ventures, with participation from TDF VenturesBirchmere VenturesBain Capital Ventures, and SaaS VC. The Pittsburgh-Post Gazette has more here

    Indus.ai, a nearly three-year-old, San Francisco-based construction software company using computer vision to analyze construction project performance in real time, has raised $8 million in Series A funding. Millennium New Horizons led the round, with participation from FoundamentalGroundbreak VenturesSpero VenturesUP2398, and Bootstrap Labs. VentureBeat has more here

    Julo, a two-year-old, Jakarta, Indonesia-based startup that says it offers affordable unsecured personal loans, has raised $10 million in funding led by Quona Capital, with participation from SkystarEast VenturesProvidentGobi Partners and Convergence. TechCrunch has more here

    Kaia Health, a 3.5-year-old, Munich, Germany-based digital therapeutics company for patients with chronic diseases, has raised $8 million in funding led by Optum Ventures. The company had separately closed on $10 million in funding in January of this year. VentureBeat has more here

    Lunchclub, a year-old, San Francisco-based startup that’s looking to help users navigate finding new connections inside specific industries, has raised $4 million in seed funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from individual investors, including Robinhood’s cofounders and Flexport’s cofounders. TechCrunch has more here

    Normative, a 4.5-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based startup that helps companies automate their carbon use reporting, just raised $2.1 million in seed funding from ByFoundersLuminar Ventures, and Wave Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    Picterra, a three-year-old, Switzerland-based company that’s trying to bring together satellite, drone, and aerial data to produce optimized geo-information for industry users and public sectors, has raised $3.3 million in funding. Investors include Space CapitalOmidyar Network, and Atlantic LabsMore here.

    Plum, a nearly eight-year-old, Waterloo, Canada-based talent data platform, has raised $4.2 million in seed funding led by Real Ventures, with participation from SAP.io and BDC CapitalMore here

    Strider, a five-month-old, Washington, D.C.-based risk intelligence platform, has raised $2 million in funding led by DataTribeMore here

    XY Gaming, a four-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based esports tournament platform where users compete for cash prizes, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding co-led by KB Partners and Varga CapitalMore here.

    New Funds 

    Afore Capital, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based venture fund focused exclusively on pre-seed stage startups, has secured $77 in capital commitments for its second fund. TechCrunch has more here

    Data Collective, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based venture capital firm also known as DCVC, has raised $725 million for its fifth fund. More here

    Revolution Ventures, the now 12-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based venture firm led by AOL cofounder Steve Case, has raised $215 million for its third fund. TechCrunch has more here

    Triventures, a healthcare-focused venture capital fund, has launched Triventures ARC, a new seed-stage fund that will focus on digital health and medtech startups and be operated in partnership with the Chaim Sheba Medical Center in the greater Tel Aviv, Israel area. Calcalist has more here.


    IGM Biosciences, a Mountain View, Ca.-based cancer drug developer, raised $175 million in its IPO before its shares began trading today on the Nasdaq, and investors apparently liked what they saw; its stock price closing up 51 percent for the day. IGM had raised $120 million in venture funding, including from Haldor Topsøe HoldingBaker BrothersRedmile GroupJanus Henderson Investors, and Vivo CapitalMore here.


    Microsoft’s GitHub has acquired Semmle, a code analysis tool that helps developers and security researchers discover potential vulnerabilities in their code. Terms aren’t being disclosed, but Semmle, spun out of research done at Oxford University and incorporated last year, was backed by $31 million in venture funding, including from Accel. TechCrunch has more here

    Noodle, a nine-year-old, New York-based education software startup that was founded by Princeton Review founder John Katzman, has acquired Clark, a two-year-old tutor management platform that’s also based in New York and had raised around $3 million from investors, including Lightspeed Venture Partners and Human Ventures. Terms aren’t being disclosed, though it’s a stock deal. TechCrunch has more here


    Tracy Britt Cool, one of Warren Buffett’s key lieutenants in recent years, is leaving Berkshire Hathaway to create a mini Berkshire of her own. Britt Cool tell the WSJ: “I want to build a long-term platform and a long-term vehicle to acquire and build businesses . . .There are companies that I think there’s a lot of value in helping them get to the next level, but they’re too small for Berkshire.” 

    Steve Dowling, Apple’s top executive in charge of communications, is leaving the company after five years in that role and 16 years at the company. More here

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly visiting Washington this week to discuss the “future of Internet regulation” with members of Congress. It’s his first known visit to the nation’s capital in 10 months and Facebook isn’t offering further details. More here.

    Sponsored By …

    Hi, we’re Wizeline. We’re a development and design services company with nearshore operations in Mexico (and in 6 countries and 10 cities around the globe). We work with sophisticated tech companies to build rapid prototypes, accelerate their roadmap, and scale engineering operations. We’d like to share a story. It’s about a non-technical team that needed to build an app with several integrations and features. However, the team didn’t have the bandwidth or budget to get it done in-house. Sound familiar? Read on to see how we enabled Fitz Frames to revolutionize the kids’ eyewear market.


    The global firm e.ventures is looking to bring aboard a full-time business development representative. The job is in San Francisco.

    Essential Reads 

    How Adam Neumann’s over-the-top style built WeWork.  

    Facebook jumps into streaming

    Speaking of streaming, and Netflix: Facing wealthy rivals and rising debt, the company is beginning to look vulnerable, observes the Financial Times. Though the streaming giant is predicting 7 million new subscribers in the third quarter, its “dramatic fall in the second quarter — even before the arrival of greater competition from Apple and others later this year — has cast doubt over whether the company that successfully took on the Hollywood hierarchy is as invincible as it previously seemed.”


    “This is clearly coming from outside the solar system.” 

    A Brooklyn, N.Y. restaurant opens with no chef, and no trash

    Flocking patterns.

    Retail Therapy

    The Mercedes-Benz-branded electric scooter, coming next year.  (But will Jon Hamm do the voiceover is what we want to know.)
  • September 17, 2019

    Tuesday! Holy smokes, it’s late!

    Top News

    Donald Trump was in the Bay Area today for the first time since his election, and despite the covert fundraiser that his host, former Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy, tried organizing because of past protests around Trumps visits, things didn’t go quite as planned. To wit, a neighbor who spied tents erected outside of McNealy’s Portola Valley home, tipped off the WSJ. According to CNBC, protesters then appeared “in droves” outside McNealy’s home, and crucially, they brought the “giant baby Trump” balloon with them.​
    No doubt there was plenty to discuss. For starters, the Trump administration is expected tomorrow to “formally revoke California’s authority to set auto emissions rules that are stricter than federal standards, taking a major step forward in its wide-ranging attack on government efforts to fight climate change,” reports the New York Times. More here

    Photo courtesy of Marissa Louie.

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    This Young Litigation Finance Startup Just Raised $100 Million to Chase Cases It Thinks Will Win

    If you haven’t heard much about litigation finance, that may change soon. The practice dates back decades, though it’s been picking up momentum since 2006, when Credit Suisse Securities founded a litigation risk strategies unit that it later spun off.

    What is litigation finance? In a nutshell, the idea is to fund plaintiffs and law firms in cases where it looks like there will be a winning ruling. When everything goes the right way, the capital that helps fund the lawsuits is returned — and then some — in return for the risk taken. Litigation finance firms — and there’s a growing number of them — basically want to estimate as accurately as possible the risk involved so they can bet on the right horses.

    Interestingly, one of the newest entrants onto the scene wasn’t founded by career attorneys or spun out of a hedge fund or private equity group. Instead it’s a young, 11-person company called Legalist that’s run by a 23-year-old Harvard dropout named Eva Shang, who cofounded the company with her college classmate Christian Haigh (who graduated).

    The pair, who say they honed the idea as part of a Y Combinator batch in 2016, just secured $100 million to put to work. That’s roughly ten times the $10.2 million they raised for a first fund that tested out their ability to find and finance civil lawsuits that pay.

    We talked with Shang late last week to learn more about new fund, which was raised from non-profit endowments, family offices, and institutional investors (including an insurance company) and that’s styled like a private-equity fund with a traditional management fee and carry structure.

    First, how do you find these plaintiffs that you’re backing? Do you reach out to them? 

    We don’t reach out to them. Attorneys bring us cases. They’re the repeat players in litigation funding industry; they’re seeing a lot of cases. 

    And who are they telling you about? Who fits your criteria? 

    The plaintiffs who we work with are involved in smaller cases, meaning they require less than a million dollars in funding. It’s a lot of money to pay a lawyer, but in the world of litigation, it’s akin to seed-stage investing. Once [we’ve found candidates], then the algorithms [do the] diligence. 

    What kind of information or patterns are they seeking out? 

    We scrape state and federal court records and look for indicators, like whether a court is favorable to plaintiffs, if particular case types tend to win, who the judge is. We also check for points at which the case could be dismissed. We’re focused exclusively on commercial cases, so often breach-of-contract [disputes] where it’s a David and Goliath situation and the smaller company is typically underfunded. When there’s litigation, we help pay for attorneys’ fees and if it’s successful, we recover and if not, we don’t. 

    How many cases have you backed so far, and how many have you won? 

    We’ve funded 38 cases, half of them have been resolved, and of those, we’ve had above an 80 percent success rate. 

    And that has translated into what kind of return for your investors? 

    More here.

    Massive Fundings

    CMR Surgical Limited, a five-year-old, U.K.-based maker of medical devices for minimally invasive surgeries, just raised $240 million in funding, including from LGTEscala Capital InvestmentsCambridge Innovation CapitalWatrium, and Zhejiang Silk Road FundMore here

    DataRobot, a seven-year-old, Boston-based developer of machine learning automation software for enterprises, has raised $206 million in Series E funding. Sapphire Ventures led the round; other participants include Tiger Global ManagementWorld Innovation Lab, Alliance Bernstein PCIEDBIDFJ GrowthGeodesic CapitalIntel CapitalSands CapitalNEA and Meritech. TechCrunch has more here

    Greenlight Financial, a five-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based company behind a debit card for kids that parents manage via its app, has raised $54 million in Series B funding. Drive Capital led the round, joined by JPMorgan ChaseWells FargoTTV CapitalLive Oak Bank and Relay Ventures. VentureBeat has more here

    MadeiraMadeira, a 10-year-old, Brazil-based online home goods platform, has raised $110 million in fresh funding led by SoftBank Group, which made the investment through the $5 billion Latin America fund that it announced by in March. Other participants include Light Street Capital and earlier investor Flybridge Capital. Reuters has more here

    Trulioo, an eight-year-old, Vancouver, Canada-based company that helps websites and mobile applications verify and validate that people are who they say, has raised $52.8 million in funding led by Goldman Sachs, with participation from Citi VenturesAmerican Express and Santander InnoVentures. GeekWire has more here

    TuSimple, a four-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based self-driving truck company, just raised $120 million in Series D funding. Investors include UPSCDH Investments and Mando Corporation. The company has now raised $215 million altogether. More here.

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings

    Cake, a three-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based electric motorcycle startup, has raised $14 million in funding led by Creandum, with participation from e.ventures and numerous individual investors. More here

    FarmWise, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based company building weed-pulling robots for the farming industry, has raised $14.5 million led by Calibrate Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    Holidu, a five-year-old, Munich, Germany-based search engine for vacation rentals, just raised €40 million ($44 million) in Series C funding led by Prime Ventures, with participation from coparionMairDuMont VenturesEQT VenturesVenture Stars, and Senovo. TechCrunch has more here

    Navigating Cancer, an 11-year-old, Seattle, Wa.-based maker of oncology-focused patient relationship management software, has raised $26 million in Series D funding led by the Merck Global Health Innovation Fund and TT Capital Partners. Other investors in the round include BrightEdge, the American Cancer Society’s newly formed philanthropic venture fund; LabCorpORIX Growth Capital; and Rustic Canyon PartnersMore here

    Takeoff Technologies, a three-year-old, Boston-based company that aims to replace big supermarkets with mini-warehouses where customers can pick up orders they’ve placed online, has raised $25 million in Series C funding led by Forrestal Capital at a $500 million valuation. American Inno has more here

    Vouch Insurance, a year-old, San Francisco-based startup providing business insurance to startups, has raised $24.5 million in Series A funding led by Ribbit Capital and SVB Financial GroupMore here.

    Smaller Fundings

    Biproxi, a 1.5-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based commercial real estate transaction platform that says it verifies listings, buyers, sellers and tenants, has raised $10 million in seed funding led by Greycroft. Other participants include Newmark Knight FrankRPM Ventures, and the National Association of Realtors. The Chicago Tribune has more here

    Broker Buddha, a two-year-old, New York-based platform that’s trying to make it easier for  commercial brokers to sell insurance, has raised $4.5 million in funding led by Vertex VenturesMore here

    Cerebelly, a 10-month-old, Santa Cruz, Ca.-based children’s food brand founded by serial entrepreneur Jennifer Zeszut, has raised $6.7 million in funding. Investors include Imaginary VenturesMore here

    Embr Labs, a five-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based thermal technology company behind a bracelet that ostensibly helps users feel colder or warmer, has raised $6 million in Series B funding led by DigiTx Partners. Other backers in the round include Safar PartnersJoyance PartnersBose Ventures, and PBJ CapitalMore here

    Front Range Biosciences, a four-year-old, Lafayette, Co.-based biotech startup focused on the breeding and production of new plant varieties and seeds in hemp, coffee and the cannabis industry, has raised $8.5 million in funding. Investors include Militello CapitalWelcan CapitalAFI CapitalPhyto PartnersHarvard Business School Alumni Angels of New YorkNew York AngelsSand Hill AngelsArcadian Capital ManagementHalley Venture Partners and Salveo CapitalMore here

    Luca + Danni, a five-year-old, Cranston, R.I.-based jewelry brand, has raised $6.2 million in funding from Ross-SimonsMore here

    Unearth Technologies, a three-year-old, Seattle-based maker of map-based operations management software for the construction sector, just raised $7 million in Series A funding. Vulcan Capital led the round, joined by Madrona Venture Group. GeekWire has more here.

    New Funds

    Colorcon, a 58-year-old company that develops, supplies and supports specialty products for the pharmaceutical industry — think food colorants, nutritional coatings, the film on time-release medications — is getting into the business of funding startups. It isn’t bringing aboard any traditional venture investors or taping off a corner of its Harleysville, Pa., offices so a team of staffers can meet with startups. Colorcon knows what it doesn’t know, suggests its CEO, Martti Hedman. “We’re a team of 750 people, so we didn’t want to invest in our own VC team. We’re sort of too small for that, too inexperienced.” Instead, Colorcon, which wants to plug $50 million into startups, has elected to outsource its venture operations to a low-flying but growing outfit in San Francisco called Touchdown Ventures. We reported on the arrangement here.


    Cameron Borumand has been promoted to principal at the Seattle-based, early-stage venture firm Ignition Partners. He joined as an associate in 2017 after spending several years in technology investment banking. 

    In addition to promoting Niki Pezeshki to investment partner at the venture firm Felicis (a move we wrote about here), the early-stage outfit has promoted to Grace Chou to vice president and Kristin Beach to chief operating officer. 

    Pax Labs CEO Bharat Vasan has apparently been pushed out of the company, roughly 1.5 years after taking the job. The popular maker of cannabis vaporizers isn’t saying what happened and neither is Vasan, though the development should make our upcoming interview with the company pretty interesting(!).

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    Essential Reads

    Per MIT’s Technology ReviewUber has a new feature called “RideCheck” that uses the GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, and other sensors on a driver’s smartphone to monitor for irregular activity, like an overly long stop. If it senses something out of the ordinary, a notification pops up on both the driver’s and rider’s app to see if everything is okay.  

    Chinese retailers have abruptly stopped selling Juul e-cigarettes, just days after their debut. Juul wasn’t given an explanation, says Bloomberg, but given that its prospects in the U.S. are worsening, international growth is more important than ever for the company. More here.


    Giannis, a Warrior

    The school dance that broke the internet

    Fine, we also cried!

    Retail Therapy

    Fifty neighborhoods to visit around the world.
  • September 16, 2019


    Top News

    WeWork is very likely postponing its IPO, says the WSJ, which suggests the shared-workspace company might instead launch its roadshow in October or . . . not. 

    In related news: the two anchor investors in SoftBank’s Vision Fund are reconsidering how much to commit to a second Vision Fund as its $10 billion investment in WeWork “sours,” reports Bloomberg. It says Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which contributed $45 billion to the first Vision fund, is now only planning to reinvest profits from that vehicle into its successor, and that Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co., which invested $15 billion, is thinking about committing less than $10 billion. 

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    Attention startup employees: did you know you can sell your employee equity while your company is still private? EquityZen helps you sell your stock without any lawyers or mountains of paperwork. List your shares and get liquid today.

    Aspect Ventures is Splitting Up

    Aspect Ventures, an early-stage, five-year-old, San Francisco-based venture firm founded five years ago very notably by two veteran VCs who happen to be women, is splitting up. Cofounders Jennifer Fonstad, formerly of DFJ, and Theresia Gouw, formerly of Accel, are launching separate firms, a source confirms.

    The WSJ reported the news earlier today. 

    Fonstad tells the outlet that the split owes to “different leadership styles and different ways of operating at the portfolio level.”  

    Going forward, she plans to operate under the brand Owl Capital and to invest in growth deals, including in enterprise software, which has been a major focus area for Aspect, with occasional exceptions, including the newly public consignment business TheRealReal and a direct-to-consumer jewelry brand called Baublebar. 

    Gouw, who we’re interviewing in early October at TechCrunch Disrupt, declined to comment. But some members of Aspect’s team are joining her at new firm, aCrew, including Lauen Kolodny, who joined Aspect five years ago and was promoted from principal to partner in 2017; and Vishal Lugani, who joined Aspect as a principal in 2016 after spending 3.5 years as a senior associate with Greycroft and whose LinkedIn bio now identifies him as a founding partner with aCrew. 

    Team members who are meanwhile joining Fonstad include Chad Herrin, a former SuccessFactors VP who has been a venture partner with Aspect since last year; and Rebecca Hu, who spent a year with Earlybird Venture Capital before joining Aspect roughly one year ago as an investor. 

    More here.

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings

    Beekeeper, a seven-year-old, Zurich, Switzerland-based startup that sells a mobile-first communications platform for employers that need to communicate with deskless and service-oriented workers, has raised $45 million in Series B funding. The round was co-led by Thayer Ventures, a travel-focused venture capital firm, and Swisscanto, an asset manager via its growth equity fund. The company has now raised $71 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

    Crisp, a three-year-old, New York-based startup that analyzes data from myriad sources to helping food brands forecast their food production requirements, has raised $14.2 million in funding led by FirstMark Capital. VentureBeat has more here

    Fieldwire, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of task management software for construction teams on big commercial projects, has raised $33.5 million in Series C funding led by Menlo Ventures, with participation from Brick & Mortar VenturesHilti Group, and Formation 8. We wrote up more on the company here

    Trigo, two-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based computer vision startup that’s building check-out-free grocery purchasing systems targeted at large supermarkets, has raised $22 million in Series A funding. Red Dot Capital led the round; it was joined by previous backers Vertex Ventures Israel and Hetz Ventures. The company has now raised $29 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

    Smaller Fundings

    FOSSA, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that helps enterprises manage open-source licenses, just raised $8.5 million in Series A funding. Bain Capital Ventures and Costanoa Ventures co-led the round, joined by Norwest Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here

    Kambr, an eight-month-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based startup that wants to sell airlines revenue management software so they can better compete with online travel giants like Expedia, has raised $4 million in seed funding. Its backers include Founder CollectiveGlobal Founders CapitalStudio VCSilicon BadiaC2 Ventures Capital Partners, and TXV Partners. Business Insider has more here

    Lenses.io, a three-year-old, London-based maker of data-ops tools, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding led by 83North, and participation from Marathon VCMore here

    Mitto, a two-month-old, Barcelona, Spain-based debit card and app for teens, has raised €2 million in seed funding led by the venture of Banco Sabadell, with participation from Athos Capital and as least two Spanish social media influencers. TechCrunch has more here

    Rafay Systems, a two-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca-based SaaS startup for operations and lifecycle management of containerized applications, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Ridge Ventures, with participation from NTT DOCOMOCostanoa Ventures, and Moment Ventures. FierceTelecom has more here

    Tiny Organics, a year-old, New York-based baby wellness company, has raised $2.5 million in venture funding led by Elizabeth Street Ventures, with participation from Rocana VenturesHuman VenturesChingona VenturesBonin Ventures, investor-entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and fashion designer Liz LangeMore here

    Wallit, a four-year-old, Portland, Me.-based rewards-based savings app for families, has raised $2.6 million in seed round funding, including from BlueIOMendoza VenturesBoxOne Ventures, and the Maine Technology InstituteMore here.

    Not-Saying-How-Much Fundings

    LINQ, a 20-month-old, Oakland, Ca.-based construction data and document search tool, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding from Stanley Black & Decker. The Fortune 500 manufacturer runs an incubator program where LINQ, founded by a former employee (and now LINQ’s CEO) Jake Olsen, first got off the ground. More here.

    New Funds 

    March Capital Partners, the five-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based venture firm founded by renowned former banker Jamie Montgomery, is looking to raise up to $410 million for a third fund, shows an SEC filing. The outfit announced the closing of its second fund just this year (in January), after it locked down $300 million in capital commitments. More here.


    An aide to Elon Musk hired a private investigator to research Vernon Unsworth, a British diver who sued Musk after the Tesla CEO called him a “pedo guy” on Twitter last summer after Unsworth said a miniature submarine that Musk sent to Thailand to help rescue a youth soccer team wouldn’t work. 

    Apparently, some people with insight into the venture-backed lingerie company ThirdLove didn’t think much of a recent Fortune story about it being a “rare tech company where women dominate.” Ten current and former employees say the company pays below-industry wages and is largely run by its male co-CEO, David Spector, who they characterize as a bully

    Computer scientist and open software advocate Richard Stallman has resigned from his position as a visiting scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) after describing a victim of sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein as “entirely willing” in emails sent to a department list. Stallman has also stepped down from his roles as president and board director at the Free Software Foundation, the nonprofit he founded in 1985.

    Sponsored By …

    Wizeline is a development and design services company headquartered in San Francisco with nearshore operations in Mexico (and around the world). We’re not your average nearshore firm. Wizeline started as a product company that set out to help other companies build better products faster. We offer the reliability of traditional consulting firms, without the bureaucracy, along with the cultural compatibility that you won’t find with an offshore tech shop. Learn how Wizeline can be your strategic but agile ally.

    Essential Reads

    Amazon late last year adjusted its product-search system to more prominently feature listings that are more profitable for the company, according to the WSJ, a move that could favor Amazon’s own brands — and that was contested internally, says the outlet. Executives’ fear at the time is that the move doesn’t put Amazon customers first. Their fear now: that the move will be used against the company by anti-trust regulators. Amazon says the report is wrong

    A major new deal could help Netflix stem an ongoing loss of subscribers. It announced today that it has acquired the global streaming rights to the popular sitcom “Seinfeld,” which will bring all 180 episodes of the Emmy winner to Netflix subscribers starting in 2021 — roughly 23 years after the show ended its run

    Wow. Shopify just overtook eBay as the second-biggest shopping site after Amazon.


    Cabbage is having a moment

    “Boomerang kids,” but they aren’t young adult humans

    No one asked for it, but a developer with an apparent sense of humor says he has nevertheless brought back Clippy—the animated paperclip mascot of Microsoft Office.

    Retail Therapy

    Rolling ruler, because tape measures are the worst.
  • September 13, 2019

    Friday! [Turns up the Beastie Boys.] Hope you have a most wonderful weekend, everyone. 

    Also, because some of you have asked, you can nab seats here for our next event, happening November 13. (We’ll be posting it this weekend on StrictlyVC’s site, too, so you don’t have to hunt for it.) We’ll have more about this third and last event of the year in the coming weeks; in the meantime, we’re happy to say that CNBC reporter Lora Kolodny is newly joining us as an interviewer.:) 

    Huge thanks again to NextWorld Capital, which is hosting the evening at its beautiful offices and gallery in San Francisco’s Jackson Square neighborhood and has generously played host twice before; thanks, too, to KCPR, the boutique public relations and strategy firm that works with both startups and venture firms and is also a returning sponsor. If you’re also interested in partnering with us, we’d love to talk with you. 

    More Monday!

    Top News

    WeWork tried to assuage nervous investors through numerous corporate governance changes it unveiled today in a new SEC filing that says, among other things, that CEO Adam Neuman will now agree to super voting stock with 10 votes per share (down from 20), and that he won’t sell more than 10 percent of his shares in the company in the second and third years after its public offering. WeWork has also scrapped a provision that would have seen Neumann’s cofounder and wife, Rebekeh, play a key role in choosing a successor as CEO if Neumann should die or become incapacitated in the next 10 years.  

    Still, to be on the safe side, evidently, Softbank Group Corp. reportedly now plans to buy at least $750 million of the shares in its impending IPO, or roughly 25 percent of the shares being offered, a “move that could allow the office-sharing company to shore up an offering that has been plagued by tepid investor demand,”  says the WSJ. SoftBank is, of course, already WeWork’s biggest investor. Other notable tidbits: WeWork has chosen the Nasdaq for its offering, and no one seems to have a solid idea yet of where its shares will price, with Reuters reporting this morning that the company could be valued at $10 billion its IPO and the WSJ saying the public shares are expected to value the company at $15 billion to $20 billion. 

    In the meantime, $6 billion of senior secured credit facilities for WeWork that are contingent on the company pushing through an IPO have reportedly been changed to reduce lenders’ risk. Reuters has more here.

    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.

    Cloudflare Cofounder Michelle Zatlyn on Taking the Company Public Today

    Shares of Cloudflare rose 20 percent today in its first day of trading on the public market, opening trading at $18 after it priced its IPO at $15 a share yesterday and holding steady through the day. 

    Put another way,  the performance of the nine-year-old company — which provides cloud-based network services to enterprises —  was relatively undramatic as these things go. That’s a good thing given that first-day “pops” often signal that a company has left money on the table. Indeed, Cloudflare had initially indicated that its shares would be priced between $10 and $12, before adjusting the price upward, which suggests its underwriters, led by Goldman Sachs, accurately gauged demand for the offering. 

    Of course, it was still a very big day for Cloudflare’s 1,069 employees and especially for Cloudflare’s founders Matthew Prince, its CEO, and Michelle Zatlyn, its COO. We talked with Zatlyn today in the hours after the duo rang the opening bell to ask about the experience, and how the IPO impacts the company going forward. Our chat has been edited lightly for length and clarity. 

    Did you get any sleep last night? I was so exhausted that I got a great night’s sleep, This whole process has been so incredible, so special. I didn’t know what to expect, and it’s been way better than I could have imagined. There are 150 of our teammates, early employees, family members, board members, champions and other friends here with us [in New York at the NYSE]. We also live-streamed [our debut] to our offices around the world so they could share this moment with us. 

    How are you feeling about today? The stock is up 20 percent. There’s always banter afterward about whether a listing was priced right, whether any money was left on the table. At this point, we’ve raised almost a billion dollars between today and all of the money we’ve raised from venture investors. We have a great team. We’re really happy. The markets are going to react how they react, but it’s part of our DNA to provide more value than we capture. We think that’s the way to build an enduring company. 

    You have a liquid currency now. Do you imagine Cloudflare might become more acquisitive as a public company? We’ve done some acquisitions on the smaller side and of course, we have a team that’s always looking at different opportunities. But we’re really engineering driven, and we think we have many products and service left to build, so we’ll continue to invest in our products and in R&D development, as well as in our customer relationships. 

    Retaining employees is a challenge that some newly public companies worry about. How will you address this in the coming days and months as lock-up periods expire? I’m so proud of where we are today and of our whole team, and we’re just getting started. [Matthew and I will] show up Monday morning and get back to work and so will our employees, because they want to make the company [an even greater business]. 

    The company went public with a dual-class structure that gives not just management but all employees 10 times the voting rights of the shares sold to the public. Why?

    More here.

    Massive Fundings

    Element AI, a three-year-old, Montreal-based company that has built a kind of AI systems integrator to help other companies develop and implement artificial intelligence solutions, has raised roughly $150 million in Series B funding from CDPQGouvernement du Québec and earlier backers Data CollectiveBDCHanwha Asset Management, and Real Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.  

    OKCredit, a two-year-old, Haryana, India-based bookkeeping company that simplifies credit account management for shop owners and their customers, has raised $67 million in Series B funding co-led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Tiger Global. TechCrunch has more here

    Shape Security, a seven-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based bot and online fraud mitigation startup, has raised $51 million in new funding at a pre-money valuation of $1 billion. C5 Capital led the round, joined by earlier investors Kleiner PerkinsHPENorwest Ventures PartnersFocus VenturesJetBlue Technology VenturesTop Tier Capital Partners, and Epic Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings 

    Insilico Medicine, a five-year-old, Rockville, Md.-based AI-powered drug discovery startup, has raised $37 million in Series B funding led by Qiming Venture Partners. Other investors in the round include Eight Roads, F-Prime Capital,Lilly Asia VenturesSinovation VenturesBaidu VenturesPavilion CapitalBOLD Capital Partners, and Juvenscence. FierceBiotech has more here.

    Smaller Fundings 

    AmazingCo, a three-year-old, Melbourne, Australia-based experiences platform that connects visitors with outings like mystery picnics and wine tastings, just raised AU$5.1 million ($3.5 million) in Series A funding from Rampersand VCArtesian and Macdoch Ventures, along with individual investors. StartupDaily has more here

    Middesk, a 10-month-old, San Francisco-based provider of corporate customer background checks, has raised $4 million in first-round funding led by Accel, with participation from Sequoia Capital. TechCrunch has more here

    Prevu, a four-year-old, New York-based home-buying platform that offers rebates on the 3 percent commission typically collected by a buyer’s agent (it says it can do this because it brings so much of the home-buying process online) , has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Corigin Ventures. Business Insider has more here

    Veo, a four-year-old, Copenhagen-based camera company that says it makes it possible to automatically record and video-edit what’s been filmed and which is focused for now on streaming amateur soccer games, has raised $6 million in Series A funding. Investors include Courtside.vcVentech Capital, and VC Seed Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

    New Funds

    Vertex Growth Fund, the sixth and newest member of Vertex Venture Holdings’ global network of venture funds, has raised $290 million in capital commitments for its inaugural fund, says the Straits Times. The new vehicle is anchored by Vertex Venture Holdings, the Singapore-based venture arm of investment firm Temasek Holdings, but it counts other limited partners as well, including an unnamed sovereign wealth fund; institutional investors, including Cathay Life Insurance; and family offices. More here.


    Madewell, J Crew’s fast-growing, 13-year-old denim brand, plans to split from its struggling parent company and hit the public market, reports CNN. The company will be called Madewell Group, though in a new SEC filing, it did not list an IPO price or say when it plans to go public.


    Daily-deals company Groupon is pursuing an acquisition amid discontent among shareholders about the firm’s financial performance and stock price, reports the WSJ. More hereMoviePass’s all-you-can-watch movie theater membership always seemed too good to be true, and it basically was. After multiple price hikes, business model changes, and temporary shutdowns and despite raising a mountain of money less than a year ago, the company is calling it quits. More in TechCrunch.


    Jack Abraham, the 33-year-old founder and managing partner of the venture-capital firm Atomic and a cofounder of the health startup Hims, wrote a response to a Quora question about net worth, saying he’s a self-made entrepreneur who’s on track to become a billionaire “by my mid to late 30s.” The response to the question has since been deleted from Quora. Abraham said in an emailed statement to Business Insider that he initially wrote the post to help explain the trade-offs that come with wealth. 

    Disney CEO Robert Iger has resigned from Apple’s board of directors as the two companies prepare to square off with rival streaming video services. As the New York Times notes, Apple’s growing Hollywood operation would have made it challenging for him to fully engage any longer in the role.

    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

    A congressional antitrust investigation into Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google entered a new phase Friday, after lawmakers called on each of the tech giants to turn over a trove of sensitive documents, including top executives’ private communications. The Washington Post has more here.


    Hillary Clinton reads her emails at an art show in Venice. 

    NBA player Spencer Dinwiddie is reportedly converting his NBA contract into a secured digital investment

    How dogs make us fall for them

    Some of the most astounding astronomy photos taken this year.

    Retail Therapy

    Pretty bike.

  • September 12, 2019

    Thursday! We were watching the third primary debate earlier as we worked so if there are any (many?) glaring mistakes, it’s because we cannot multitask, try as we might. More tomorrow.:)

    Top News

    The Financial Times has some more interesting reporting on that WeWork IPO, writing today that WeWork investors and advisors are exploring ways to make its offering more appealing, including, potentially, curbing the voting power of cofounder and CEO Adam Neumann and possibly removing his wife and cofounder Rebekah from the succession process. (Currently, in what would be an extraordinary arrangement for a publicly traded company, she is empowered to help select Neumann’s successor if he dies unexpectedly.) The FT also says that Neumann continues to meet with WeWork’s biggest financial backer, SoftBank, which has pushed to delay the offering, but it adds that as of right now, its roadshow is still expected to launch this coming Monday.

    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.

    The Youngest New Partner at Felicis Ventures — Niki Pezeshki — on How He Wins Deals

    Felicis Ventures has, in its roughly 13 years of existence, established a reputation in venture circles as a smart early-stage investment firm that’s willing to make bets almost anywhere in the world. Founded by ex-Googler Aydin Senkut, the San Francisco-based firm has also demonstrated a knack for attracting talented investors into the fold, including another former Google executive, Wesley Chan; Sundeep Peechu, who held various product roles at Intel before joining the firm in 2010; and Renata Quintini, an investor who Felicis eventually lost to Lux Capital (which more recently lost her to her own firm, Renegade Partners, which is reportedly raising a $300 million debut fund). 

    We talked this morning with yet another member of Felicis, Niki Pezeshki,  who, following several promotions, has just became the newest partner in the firm’s history. For aspiring VCs out there, we wondered how Pezeshki landed the role — and how he’s managing to win deals. Following is part of that conversation, edited lightly for length. 

    Everyone wants to work in VC. How did you land this gig? Out of undergrad [at the University of Southern California], I went to work for [private equity firm] Vista Equity Partners.They hire, like, four people out of undergrad every year at USC. I was in Austin [where the firm is based] for three years. It was amazing. I didn’t know what I was getting into at the time — Vista has blossomed into this incredible fund — but it grounded me in the fundamentals of business and what is a good software investment. I think it made me more numbers focused than a lot of other venture capitalists. I may get flamed for saying this, but I come to the world of venture with a much more numbers-driven and formulaic approach to understanding business that I think helps me pick good investments. 

    How did you wind up in the Bay Area? My family is from L.A. so I came to California to work for Climate Corp. for a year; I worked in sales strategy and operations. I wanted a bit of operating experience. But I love investing so much; I wanted to go back to it. So I got a job with [PE firm] Summit Partners where you’re doing hardcore outbound sourcing and learning how to reach out to people and get conversations started and figuring out [who you should be learning more about] out of hundreds of founders. While there, Felicis randomly reached out to me through a friend of a friend, who said, ‘You should meet Sundeep,’ and they told Sundeep, ‘Sundeep, you should meet Niki,” and though I hadn’t thought about venture, a lot of what they were doing really resonated with me. In many ways, I’m doing what I was doing at Summit, but with a much wider aperture. 

    You were just promoted to partner from principal, up from senior associate, where you started in 2016.  What does that mean on a practical level? A lot of the role won’t be much different than in the past year. I think from an external-facing perspective, it gives me more credibility with founders and investors. It’s one more thing that I can use to win great deals. 

    What’s one competitive deal that you’ve won already? Modus in Seattle. It’s a [tech-driven] escrow startup that is to the title and brokerage industry what Compass is to real estate. I led the Series A deal for that company and I’m on the board and I got lot of credibility internally for that. I think they were thinking of promoting me next year or the year after, but they were like, ‘Dang, Niki just let a competitive Series A round. Let’s give him ammunition.’ [Laughs.] More here.

    Massive Fundings

    Affirm, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based lending company founded by serial entrepreneur Max Levchin, is raising as much as $1.5 billion in a combination of debt and equity, according to TechCrunch. Thrive Capital is said to be leading the financing, with participation from the San Francisco outfit Spark CapitalMore here

    Healthy.io, a six-year-old, Israel-based startup focused around smartphone-based urinalysis (patients snap a picture that gets beamed to the cloud for diagnostic tests), has raised $60 million in Series C funding. Corner Ventures led the round, joined by Joy CapitalAnsonia Holdings, Aleph, and Samsung NEXT. VentureBeat has more here

    Pomelo, a six-year-old, Bangkok, Thailand-based fashion e-commerce company, has raised $52 million in Series C funding from Central GroupProvident Growth Fund and InterVest Star SEA Growth Fund. Reuters has more here.

    SmartDrive, a 15-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based driver safety and transportation intelligence company that uses video and driver data to monitor behavior in commercial vehicles like trucks, buses and trains, has raised $90 million. TPG Sixth Street Partners led the round, joined by earlier backers Founders FundNewView CapitalOak Investment Partners, and Michelin. TechCrunch has more here.

    Trifacta, a 7.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that specializes in cleaning corporate data so it can be analyzed, has raised $100 million from Telstra VenturesEnergy Impact PartnersNTT DOCOMO VenturesBMW iVentures, and ABN AMRO. Fortune has more here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings

    Akeneo, a six-year-old, Nantes, France-based company that helps merchants and brands deliver a customer experience across all sales channels, has raised $46 million in Series C funding. Summit Partners led the round,  joined by earlier investors AlvenPartechSalesforce Ventures, and Stephan Dietrich. TechCrunch has more here

    Applied Intuition, a two-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based simulation platform for autonomous vehicle development, has raised $40 million in Series B funding led by General Catalyst. Other participants in the round include Kleiner PerkinsM12Sozo VenturesLa Famiglia, and earlier backers Andreessen HorowitzLux Capital, and FloodgateMore here

    Dapper Labs, the 1.5-year-old, Vancouver, Canada-based company best-known for making the viral blockchain game CrypoKitties, has raised $11.2 million in fresh funding, including from Warner Music Group and earlier backers Andreessen HorowitzDigital Currency GroupUnion Square Ventures, and Venrock, among others. Forbes has more here

    Incredible Health, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based job-matching platform for nursing vacancies, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from NFXObvious Ventures, and Precursor Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    Lacework, a four-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based cloud security platform, has raised $42 million in funding, including from Sutter Hill Ventures and Liberty VenturesMore here

    Replica, the Kansas City, Ks.-based data-gathering tool created within Sidewalk Labs that maps the movement of people in cities, is now a company, one that has raised $11 million in a Series A funding. Investors include Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, along with Firebrand Ventures and Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund. TechCrunch has more here

    Simbe Robotics, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of retail inventory robots, just raised $26 million in Series A funding led by Venrock, with participation from Future ShapeValo Ventures, and Activant Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

    Swiftly, a five-year-old, Seattle, Wa.-based startup that wants to help grocery stores and other retailers up their technology offerings to keep up with Amazon and Walmart, has raised $15.6 million in seed funding from Novel Private EquityMendacre and Ron Burkle. GeekWire has more here

    Volta Charging, a nine-year-old, San Francisco-based nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations, has added $20 million in funding to Series C round that had closed earlier, bringing its total capital raised to more than $100 million. Energize Ventures led the newest tranche. Others of its investors include Activate CapitalGE VenturesOrsted VentureNautilus Venture PartnersIdinvestVirgo Investment Group, and Autotech Ventures. VentureBeat has more here

    Voyage, a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based autonomous vehicle startup that spun out of Udacity and operates a ride-hailing service in retirement communities using self-driving cars supported by human safety drivers, has raised $31 million in funding. Franklin Templeton led the round; it was joined by Khosla VenturesJaguar-Land Rover, and Chevron Technology Ventures. The company has now raised $52 million since launching. TechCrunch has more here.

    Smaller Fundings

    CMDTY, a three-month-old, New York-based physical commodities supply chain startup led by AppNexus founder and former CEO Brian O’Kelley, has raised $10 million in Series A funding from Venrock and Rucker Park. O’Kelley writes more about the company here

    Flatfile, a year-old, Denver, Co.-based startup that says its API turns user data into product data, has raised $2 million in funding led by Afore Capital. VentureBeat has more here

    GiGstreem, a three-year-old, Tysons Corner, Va.-based managed network services provider, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by RET Ventures, with participation from LNC PartnersMore here

    Magic Spoon, a six-month-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based direct-to-consumer cereal brand that’s sugary tasting but ostensibly health-focused, has raised $5.5 million in seed funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round, joined by Collaborative FundWild VenturesDGNL Ventures, and numerous individual investors, including serial entrepreneur Kevin Rose. Food Dive has more here.

    Patch Homes, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that proposes to homeowners an equity-share model, just raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Union Square Ventures, with participation by from Tribe Capital and previous investors Techstars VenturesBreega Capital and entrepreneur Greg Schroy. TechCrunch has more here

    Redefine Meat, a 1.5-year-old, Israel-based maker of 3D printers that produce a steak-like alternative out of plant-based food formulations, has raised $6 million in seed funding. CPT Capital led the round, joined by Hanaco Ventures and The PHW Group. The Spoon has more here

    Truman’s, a six-month-old, Lexington, Ky.-based direct-to-consumer startup that makes concentrated hard-surface cleaning products, has raised a $5 million minority investment led by German consumer-products giant Henkel. AdAge has more here

    vHive, a three-year-old, Herzliya, Israel-based software company that develops AI for multi-drone missions, has raised $5.5 million in funding led by Octopus Ventures, with participation from other investors, including StageOne VenturesMore here.


    Biotech start-up 10x Genomics surged as much as 49 percent in its market debut today. The stock opened trading at $54 and rose as high as $58 per share midday before closing at $53. CNBC has more here

    Meanwhile the controversial, venture-backed company SmileDirectClub plunged 28 percent on its first day of trading today, a slide with the dubious distinction of marking the year’s worst stock-market debut for a U.S. company valued at more than $1 billion, according to Dealogic data.


    Spotify has acquired SoundBetter, a Brooklyn-based audio production and collaboration marketplace for artists, producers, and musicians to connect on specific projects and that had raised an undisclosed amount of funding form investors, including 500 StartupsFoundry Group, and entrepreneur Eric Ries. Financial terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch offers more analysis here.


    Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi, the young founders of the venture-backed credit card startup Brex (valued at $2.6 billion), have re-opened a 32-year-old cafe in San Francisco’s South Park two years after it closed. The upstairs floor, dubbed the “Oval Room,” is a members-only coworking space for Brex cardholders. The Twitterverse has thoughts. Business Insider has more here.  

    LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman apologized today for his involvement in bringing convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein into the orbit of Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and Mark Zuckerberg at a dinner in Palo Alto in 2015. In an email to Axios, Hoffman says he invited Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, and Epstein to the dinner at the request of Joi Ito, for the purposes of fundraising for the MIT Media Lab. Wrote Hoffman: “The abuse described by Jeffery Epstein’s survivors is abhorrent, horrific, and disgusting. I am hopeful survivors can attain justice and support, and the communities damaged by these events can begin healing.” 

    French economist Thomas Piketty is back with a 1,200-page guide to abolishing billionaires, though English speakers have to wait until next year for a translation. 

    Amy Saper, a former marketing employee of both Stripe and Twitter before that, has joined the venture firm Accel as a principal focused on early-stage, consumer-facing investments. Business Insider has more here

    David Stewart, a former COO of the car-share marketplace Turo, has joined LiveOak Venture Partners as a venture partner. More here.

    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

    Mithril Capital, the venture capital firm co-founded by Peter Thiel and operated day-to-day by his longtime colleague and Mithril cofounder Ajay Royan, is fielding questions from the FBI following a complaint by a former employee, according to Vox. The FBI is specifically looking into possible financial misconduct. A Mithril Capital spokesman tells Vox there are no allegations of wrongdoing but that rather “this is a foiled plot by a self-serving ex-employee. There are no allegations from any government agency, or any [investor.] Nevertheless, our attorneys are in contact with government authorities in order to protect [investors], employees, and portfolio companies against any extortionate behavior.”  

    Amazon will now allow basically anyone to answer your Alexa questions, adding that it has measures in place to prevent misuse. 

    Toyota is trying to build an electric car that’s entirely independent of charging facilities, though the technology likely wouldn’t see wide use for decades, according to an automotive analyst who walked with Bloomberg. Watch out, Robinhood? 

    Square is reportedly testing out a new feature that would enable users to make free stock trades.


    Why American homes are so big

    What college admissions offices really want

    High school experiences, retold as podcast ads.

    Retail Therapy

    The Filson quilted utility jacket. (It is September.)
  • 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

    Meditation.live, 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.

  • September 10, 2019

    Tuesday! Hope yours went well. 🙂

    Top News

    California legislators just approved a landmark bill that requires companies like Uber and Lyft to treat contract workers as employees. The bill — which passed in a 29 to 11 vote in the State Senate and will apply to app-based companies — is expected to be signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom, who endorsed it earlier this month. As reports the New York Times, it may well reshape the gig economy. Now to see if the widely expected development is already priced into the companies’ public shares. More here.

    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.

    These Brothers Just Raised $18 Million for Their Startup, Dutchie, a Kind of Shopify for Cannabis Dispensaries 

    Ross Lipson comes from an entrepreneurial family, so perhaps it’s no wonder that as a college student, he dropped out of school to jump into the online food space, including co-founding, then selling, one of Canada’s first online food ordering service startups. 

    It’s even less surprising that having gone through that experience, Lipson would use what he learned in the service of another startup: Dutchie, a two-year-old, 36-person, Bend, Ore.-based startup whose software is used by a growing number of cannabis dispensaries that pay the startup a monthly subscription fee to create and maintain their websites, as well as to accept orders and track what needs to be ready for pickup. 

    The decision is looking like a smart one right now. Dutchie  says it’s now being used by 450 dispensaries across 18 states and that it’s seeing $140 million in gross merchandise volume. The company also just locked down $15 million in Series A funding led by Gron Ventures, a new cannabis-focused venture fund with at least $117 million to invest. Other participants in the round include earlier backers Casa Verde Capital, Thirty Five Ventures (founded by NBA star Kevin Durant and sports agent Rich Kleiman), Sinai Ventures and individual investors, including Shutterstock founder and CEO Jon Oringer. 

    Altogether, Dutchie (named after the song), has now raised $18 million. We talked earlier today with Lipson about the company, its challenges and working with his big brother Zach, himself a serial entrepreneur who co-founded Dutchie and today serves as its chief product officer while Ross serves as CEO. 

    It’s so interesting when siblings team up. Did you always get along with your brother? We complement each other strongly. I’m energy, I’m sales and business development. I’m fast-moving by nature and the guy who wants to drive the car as fast as possible. Zach is the one who wants to make sure that we’re doing everything right. He’s the methodical one. We really do understand each other quite well and appreciate each other’s strengths and weaknesses, which enables us to meet in the middle on a lot of things. 

    It’s also interesting that you’ve both been founders beginning around the time you were in college. Were your parents entrepreneurs? Our father is a founder and has run his own business for the last 35 years. Our parents also always pitched us that anything is possible and encouraged us to go for it. He was the dreamer and our mom was the cheerleader, which is a pretty nice combination. 

    You started Dutchie a couple of years ago. Is running this startup more or less challenging than your experience in the food delivery business? It’s our second year in business, and we’ve seen some explosive, unprecedented growth.  More here.

    Massive Fundings  

    Snyk, a four-year-old, London-based developer of cybersecurity analysis tools, has raised $70 million in funding led by Accel, with participation from earlier backers GV and Boldstart Ventures. Globes has more here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    Canndescent, a four-year-old, Santa Barbara, Ca-based cannabis company that grows and sells weed, has raised $27.5 million in Series C funding. Green Acre Capital led the round, joined by Carnegie Arch CapitalSenterraAltitude Investment ManagementJW Asset Management and an unnamed multinational beer company from Asia. More here

    Drivetime, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that makes voice-based trivia quizzes, games and interactive stories that people can play while driving, has raised $11 million in funding led by Makers Fund, with participation from Amazon‘s Alexa Fund and Google. TechCrunch has more here

    Glance, a year-old, India-based subsidiary of Indian mobile ad business firm InMobi, just raised $45 million from Mithril Capital, the growth-stage investment firm co-founded by investors Peter Thiel and Ajay Royan. Glance operates a service that shows media content in local languages on the lock screen of Android-powered smartphones. TechCrunch has more here.

    IceKredit, a four-year-old, Shanghai, China-based credit risk and credit management platform with offices in L.A., has raised $47 million in new funding co-led by Guohe Capital and Yunqi Partners. KrASIA has more here

    Keranova, a four-year-old, Saint-Etienne, France-based maker of surgical ophthalmology tools, has raised €24 million from Financière ArbevelTourrette Investissement and earlier backers Mérieux Equity Partners and Supernova Invest. Mass Device has more here.

    Nextdoor, the now 11-year-old, San Francisco-based social network for neighborhoods, has raised $47 million in new funding from Bond, the new firm founded by former Internet analyst-turned-venture capitalist Mary Meeker. The capital is part of a previously announced Series F round and brings the round’s new total to $170 million. VentureBeat has more here.

    ProGlove, a five-year-old, Munich, Germany-based industrial wearables startup that’s developing wireless gloves with built-in barcode scanners and gesture-sensing features, has raised $40 million from Summit Partners. VentureBeat has more here

    Q-CTRL, a two-year-old, Sydney, Australia-based quantum computing control startup, has raised $15 million in funding led by Square Peg Capital; other participants in the round include Sierra Ventures and earlier backers Sequoia CapitalMain Sequence Ventures, and Horizons Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

    SGI-DNA, a six-year-old, La Jolla, Ca.-based synthetic genomics and DNA storage startup, has raised $25 million in Series A funding led by Northpond Ventures, with participation from Oxford Finance and BroadOak Capital PartnersMore here

    Strong Roots, a four-year-old, U.K.-based vegetarian frozen food company, has raised $18.3 million in funding from the private equity firm Goode Partners as it looks to expand its U.S. presence. TechCrunch has more here, including a picture provided by the company that made us wince, if we’re being honest. 

    Yasa, a nearly eight-year-old, Oxford, England-based company that makes electric motors and motor controllers for hybrid and electric vehicles, has raised £18 million from Oxford Science InnovationsInovia Capital and earlier backers Parkwalk Advisors and Universal PartnersMore here

    Smaller Fundings 

    Adarga, a four-year-old, London-based AI services startup, has raised £5 million in Series A funding led by Allectus Capital. TechCrunch has more here

    Brave Care, a two-year-old, Portland, Ore.-based operator of pediatric urgent care clinics, has raised $5.2 million in seed funding from Sesame StreetGreycroftRefactorFifty YearsIndicator Ventures, and Founder’s Co-op. GeekWire has more here

    ClearAccessIP, a 6.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based IP management startup, just raised $3.7 million in seed equity and debt funding from Alpana VenturesPlug & Play VenturesFoundersX Ventures, and longtime investor Bill TaiMore here

    Fitplan, a three-year-old, L.A.-based personal training app, has raised $4.5 million from Corazon Capital, Former Yankee Alex Rodriguez, and 24 Hour Fitness CEO Mark Mastrov. TechCrunch has more here.

    Kovrr, a three-year-old, Tel Aviv-Israel-based predictive cyber-risk modeling startup, has raised $5.5 million in funding co-led by StageOne Ventures and Mundi VenturesMore here.

    Pento, a three-year-old, Copenhagen-based payroll SaaS startup, has raised $2.8 million in seed funding co-led by Point Nine CapitalSeedcamp, and numerous individual investors, including departing Atomico partner Mattias Ljungman. TechCrunch has more here

    PrimaryBid, a seven-year-old, London-based startup whose goal is to give retail investors across the Eurozone access to discounted share issuances for any European public company, has raised £7 million co-led by Pentech and Outward VC. EU Startups has more here

    Voxpopme, a six-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based video feedback and analytics company, has raised $9 million in Series A funding led by Origin VenturesMore here.

    Zestful, a three-year-old, Denver, Co.-based developer of employee perk programs, has raised $5 million in seed funding led by Thrive Capital. It was joined in the round by Box GroupY CombinatorMatchstick VenturesThird Kind Capital, and Shrug Capital. Crunchbase News has more here.

    New Funds

    Link Ventures, a 13-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based venture capital firm focused on consumer internet startups, says it has raised more than $100 million in capital commitments for its second fund. More here.


    The billionaire former New York City mayor and founder of Bloomberg, Michael Bloomberg, is committing $160 million to combat vaping, he announced today in a statement. 

    Uber has laid off 435 employees across its product and engineering teams, it announced today. Combined, the layoffs represent about 8 percent of the organization. In a separate cost-cutting measure, Uber had separately laid off 400 employees from its marketing department in July.

    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 

    Apple today unveiled a batch of iPhones that didn’t exactly surprise, owing to the many detailed leaks throughout the year. It wasn’t just the phones, either. Tweeted Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, who has long covered the company: “Nothing shown today really qualifies as meeting high ‘innovation only’ expectations: Apple delivered the smallest Watch update ever, an iPad with a slightly bigger screen and nothing more, and iPhones with cameras equal to or less than many other devices. Apple needs a big 2020.” (The iPhone Pro’s camera display in particular got roasted following its introduction.) If you’d rather see for yourself, here’s everything Apple announced today at its iPhone 11 event. 

    Peloton, the New York-based the developer of at-home, internet-connected stationary bikes and treadmills, is looking to raise as much as $1.2 billion in an IPO priced between $26 and $29 a share, the company said this afternoon in an SEC filing. TechCrunch has more here.


    Clean out your closet the right way

    “We are not saying that there isn’t a primate on the loose, in fact, there probably is one,” say Santa Fe police.

    Retail Therapy 

    Polaroid Lab, an instant camera that turns digital photos into analog shots.

  • September 9, 2019

    Monday! Hope you had a great start to the week.:)

    Top News …

    SoftBank, which has invested more than $10 billion in WeWork, is reportedly urging the company to shelve its imminent IPO out of concern that SoftBank could itself face challenges raising its second fund if WeWork lists at a steep discount to its last funding round. The Financial Times has the story here.  

    China’s richest person, Jack Ma, has officially stepped down as executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding, the nearly half-trillion-dollar online-shopping giant that he co-founded in an apartment two decades ago. The former English teacher had left Alibaba’s CEO position in 2013. More here and here

    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.

    Foundation Capital Fights On, Raising $350 Million for Its Ninth Fund 

    Not all venture firms are long for this world. Though they tend to shut down exceedingly quietly, it sometimes happens when the returns just aren’t compelling or a firm grows too fast or there’s infighting or there’s not a solid succession plan. 

    Foundation Capital,  founded in 1995, had its own kind of reckoning in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis owing to a little bit of all of these things. 

    Like a lot of firms that had begun to raise ever-bigger funds with ever-bigger teams, the once-small firm closed its sixth fund with $750 million in capital commitments in 2008 before it was forced to scale back dramatically, closing its seventh fund with $282 million in 2013 with a whopping eight general partners (then parting ways with half of those individuals), closing its eighth fund with $325 million in late 2015 and doing what it could to right the ship. 

    It plainly pulled it off. Today, the firm is announcing that it has closed its ninth fund with $350 million in capital commitments and the smallest pool of active general partners it has had in years: Ashu Garg, who joined Foundation in 2008 after spending the previous four years at Microsoft; Charles Moldow, who joined the firm in 2005, after spending the previous five years as a senior vice president at TellMe Networks (later acquired by Microsoft); and Steve Vassallo, who joined the outfit in 2007 after spending a couple of years as a VP of product and engineering at a social network co-founded by Marc Andreessen, called Ning. 

    A fourth general partner with Foundation’s previous funds, Paul Holland, who joined Foundation in 2001, continues to manage out his investments. 

    Some notable exits were surely helpful for the trio, including the IPOs of Sunrun (2015), LendingClub (2014), TubeMogul (2014) and Chegg (2013). But we’re guessing Foundation’s newer bets intrigued limited partners even more. 

    Among some of the firm’s most interesting deals: the biomaterials company Bolt Threads,  which is growing artificial spider silk and closed its Series D round last year; Fair, the fast-growing car subscription app that has already locked down at least $1.6 billion in equity and debt funding; and Cerebras, a next-generation silicon chip company that launched publicly last month after almost three years of quiet development, surprising many with its very large and very fast processor, which houses 1.2 trillion transistors, 18 gigabytes of on-chip memory and 400,000 processing cores across its 46,225 square millimeters. 

    The last was incubated at Foundation’s office, and it isn’t the only company to get its start with the help of the firm. Another example of a de novo investment is States Title, an insure-tech platform that was founded in 2016 and has gone on to raise $106.6 million, according to Crunchbase. 

    Starting from scratch is a “more repeatable and sustainable way of building ownership in a company,” says Moldow. 

    More here.

    Massive Fundings  

    AppZen, a seven-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based maker of AI tools for corporate expensing and finance teams, has raised $50 million in Series C funding. Coatue Management led the round, joined by earlier investors Redpoint Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here

    Delhivery, an eight-year-old, Gurugram, India-based third-party logistics company, has a new investor; according to LiveMint, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board bought up $115 million worth of secondary shares from an earlier (unnamed) backer and at the $1.5 billion valuation the Delhivery was assigned in March when the SoftBank Vision Fund led its Series F round. More here

    Group Nine Media, a three-year-old, New York-based digital media holding company that oversees Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo and other brands, has raised $50 million in new funding from Discovery Inc. and Axel Springer. According to the WSJ, the deal values the company, led by Ben Lerer, at more than $600 million. The company has raised $190 million to date. More here

    QuintoAndar, a six-year-old, Brazil-based marketplace that lets users search, book, rent and advertise rental properties in Brazil, has raised a massive $250 million in Series D funding led by SoftBank, as the conglomerate continues to deploy its $5 billion commitment to the Latin American region. The startup has now raised $345 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

    Volocopter, a seven-year-old, Bruchsal, Germany-based developer of autonomous flying vehicles, just raised €50 million in Series C funding led by Volvo’s parent company, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. TechCrunch has more here

    Root Insurance, a 4.5-year-old, Columbus, Oh.-based car insurance startup that uses smartphone technology to understand individual driver behavior, has officially raised $350 million in funding at a valuation of $3.65 billion following a report last month in Axios that this deal was afoot. DST Global and Coatue Management co-led the round, joined by Drive CapitalRedpoint VenturesRibbit Capital, Scale Venture Partners, and Tiger Global ManagementMore here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    CasaOne, a two-year-old, Emeryville, Ca.-based furniture rental startup, has raised $16 million in funding led by Accel, with participation from WeWorkJones Lang LaSalleFreestyle Capital and Array Ventures. According to the WSJ, the company’s post-money valuation is between $100 million and $150 million, per one of its sources. More here

    CasperLabs, 1.5-year-old, Cheyenne, Wy.-based open-source blockchain project whose ultimate goal is to make a blockchain that scales without sacrificing its decentralization, has raised $14.5 million in Series A funding led by financier Terren Piezer, with participation from Arrington XRP CapitalHyundai Digital Asset Co.Consensus CapitalAxiom Holdings GroupBell LPOneBoat CapitalMW PartnersBlockchange VenturesHashkey Capital, and Distributed GlobalMore here

    Freeda Media, a three-year-old, Milan, Italy-based media brand for women, has raised $16 million in Series B funding led by Alven, with participation from earlier backers Endeavor Catalyst and UniCredit. TechCrunch has more here

    HackerOne, a nine-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that runs bug bounty programs for more than 1,500 client companies, has raised $36.4 million in Series B funding. Valor Equity Partners led the round, joined by earlier backers BenchmarkNEADragoneer Investment Group and EQT Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    Insilico Medicine, a four-year-old, Hong Kong-based company that collaborates with biopharmaceutical companies possessing disease-relevant assays to validate to generate machine-learnable data, has raised $37 million in Series B funding. Qiming Venture Partners led the round, joined by Eight RoadsF-Prime CapitalLilly Asia VenturesSinovation VenturesBaidu VenturesPavilion Capital, and BOLD Capital PartnersMore here

    Kite Hill, a nine-year-old, Hayward, Ca.-based food company that has developed numerous milk and cheese products that it says are healthier than their dairy counterparts, is raising a $15 million round of funding, according to an SEC filing that shows the company has already rounded up $10 million. Kite Hill was cofounded by Patrick Brown, the founder of Impossible Foods (and a longtime biochemistry professor at Stanford before that). Brown spoke at a StrictlyVC event in 2017. More here

    Loadsmart, a five-year-old, New York-based on-demand full truckload shipping platform, has raised $19 million from Ports AmericaMaersk GrowthChromo Invest, and Connor Capital SB. The company has now raised $53.4 million altogether. More herePlatelet BioGenesis, a five-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based developer of stem cell-derived human platelets, has raised $26 million in Series A-1 funding co-led by Ziff Capital Partners and Qiming Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers Nest.Bio Ventures and eCoast Angels. Endpoints News has more here

    Spendesk, a three-year-old, Paris, France-based spend management platform for small to mid-sized businesses, has raised €35 million in Series B funding led by Index Ventures. The round brings the total the company has raised to €45 million. The outlet UKTN has more here

    Syte, a four-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based startup that sells to retailers a visual AI technology that powers features like visual search, automated textual tags, and product recommendation, has raised $21.5 million in funding in Series B funding. Viola Ventures led the round, with participation from Storm VenturesCommerce Ventures and Axess Ventures. Syte has now raised $32 million. TechCrunch has more here

    Vim, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based healthcare startup that tries to align incentives between health plans and care providers, has raised $24 million in Series B funding led by Optum Ventures, with participation from Premera Blue Cross and earlier backers Great Point Ventures and Sequoia CapitalMore here

    Smaller Fundings  

    Emi Labs, a two-year-old, Buenos Aires, Argentina-based platform that automates the hiring process for low-skilled jobs, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Khosla VenturesMore here

    Medal.tv, a four-year-old, Netherlands-based clipping and messaging service for gamers, has raised $9 million led by Horizons Ventures, the venture capital fund established by Hong Kong multi-billionaire Li Ka-shing. TechCrunch has more here

    Uizard, a Copenhagen-based platform for prototyping development tools (it says it is using machine intelligence to quickly turn app sketches into prototypes), has raised $2.8 million in seed funding. ByFounders led the round, joined by LDV Capital, av8 Ventures, and New York Venture Partners, along with numerous individual investors. TechCrunch has more here

    Not-Saying-How-Much Fundings  

    Engage Mobilize, a three-year-old, Denver, Co.-based cloud-based digital field management, procurement, and electronic ticketing platform built for the oil and gas industry, has an undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by Cottonwood Venture PartnersMore here.

    New Funds 

    Permira is nearing a close for its seventh buyout fund, which has surpassed its 10 billion-euro ($11 billion) target, according to Bloomberg. The private equity firm is reportedly still gathering cash from investors and expects to receive additional commitments from its own general partners. More here

    Brothers and angel investors Rohan Malhotra and Arjun Malhotra have formed a seed-stage fund that’s focused on India-based startups called Good Capital, and toward that end, they’ve locked down $12 million in capital commitments to invest between $100,00 and $2 million in half a dozen startups per year. They hope to close their debut fund with $25 million in capital commitments altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


    Shopify, the shopping technology developer, has taken another step up the sales supply chain with a $450 million acquisition of the four-year-old, warehouse automation and management technology developer 6 River Systems. The deal consists of cash and stock. Investors in 6 Rivers, including Menlo Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, and Eclipse Partners, had provided the company with $46 million, according to Crunchbase. TechCrunch has more here.


    The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has opened a permanent office in San Francisco (its second U.S. location after New York) and appointed as its head of venture capital funds Monica Adractas. Adractas, a Harvard MBA, has formerly worked at Facebook, Box, Starbucks and McKinsey. More here

    On Saturday, Joi Ito, a prominent figure at MIT, stepped down after the disclosure of his efforts to conceal his financial connections to Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted pedophile who killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell last month while facing federal sex trafficking charges. Ito acknowledged last week that he had received $1.7 million from Epstein, including $1.2 million for his own outside investment funds. The New York Times has more here

    Yelena Shkolnik has been promoted to principal at the Chicago-based venture firm Jump Capital. Shkolnik joined Jump in 2015 after working at MK Capital and Dreamworks. More here

    Laura Thompson, a longtime product manager at Google who most recently spent a year as an investor with Alphabet’s venture arm, GV, has joined Brown University as an entrepreneur-in-residence. 

    Sandhya Venkatachalam, is beginning to take the wraps off her nine-month-old, seed-stage, AI-focused venture firm, Deep Ventures. Venkatachalam most recently spent a year as a general partner with Social Capital focused on later-stage investments. She previously cofounded Centerview Capital. 

    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 

    Fifty(!) attorneys general are pushing forward with an antitrust investigation against Google, led by the Texas state attorney general, Ken Paxton. In an announcement on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building, Paxton and a gathering of attorneys general said that the focus of the investigation would be on Google’s  advertising practices but that other points of inquiry could be included in the investigation. TechCrunch has more here

    How Apple’s apps topped their rivals in the App Store that it controls. 

    A shockingly simple work-around allows your Instagram followers to share your private photos and videos posted to both Facebook and Instagram.


    Why positive relationships in childhood may have lasting effects on people’s mental health into adulthood. 

    “We may have to shoot down this aircraft.” 

    2D Cafe.

    Retail Therapy 

    Extreme glamping in Thailand.

  • 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

    Gambling.com 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.”

  • September 5, 2019

    Happy Thursday, all. We are beat after a day of marinating in content about enterprise startups, though we also learned a lot and also drank an inordinate of Diet Coke. If you missed the event and want to check it out, you can zip through some of the discussions here. More tomorrow.:)

    Top News

    It’s still a mystery, what’s causing the cluster of severe respiratory illnesses among people who’ve vaped, but investigators say they are now zeroing in on vitamin E as a possible culprit.  

    Data startup Palantir Technologies isn’t orchestrating an IPO any time soon, reports Bloomberg, which says the company, now 16 years old, is in talks to raise more money from private investors and may delay indefinitely a public offering.

    Sponsored By … 

    Sallie Krawcheck was CEO of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and Smith Barney. She founded Ellevest because investing your money isn’t some game to be won. What matters are your goals — and a modern investing strategy to get you there. Find a team of experienced financial advisors who get it when it comes to women, families, and money at Ellevest Private Wealth.

    Massive Fundings  

    BigID, a three-year-old, New York-based startup that’s been developing a privacy platform for the last several years, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners. Other investors in the round include SAP.io FundComcast VenturesBoldstart VenturesScale Venture PartnersSalesforce Ventures, and ClearSkyMore here

    Federated Wireless, a seven-year-old, Arlington, Va.-based wireless communications firm, has raised $51 million in Series C funding, including from earlier backers Allied MindsAmerican Tower, and GIC, along with new investors Pennant Investors and SBA Communications. Multichannel News has more here

    Getaround, a 10-year-old, San Francisco-based used car marketplace, is raising $200 million in equity financing at a $1.7 billion post-money valuation, according to an estimate provided by PitchBook. The company is declining for now to comment on the round. TechCrunch has more here

    Grove Collaborative, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform for natural home and personal care products, just raised $150 million in Series D funding at a $1 billion post-money valuation. Lone Pine CapitalGeneral Atlantic, and Glynn Capital co-led the round, joined by earlier investors Norwest Venture PartnersMayfield FundNextView VenturesMHS Capital, and Heron Rock Capital. The company’s previous round, a $35 million Series C round, had closed in January of last year. More here

    Milkbasket, a four-year-old, Gurugram, India-based delivery startup that operates in Bangalore, Gurugram, Noida, Ghaziabad, and Hyderabad and which allows users to order their daily supplies until midnight then delivers them in the early morning hours, is reportedly in advanced talks to raise more than $50 million in Series C funding. The company has raised $26 million in the past from investors. TechCrunch has the story here

    Nkarta, a four-year-old, South San Francisco-based developer of natural killer cell therapies to fight cancer, just raised $114 million in Series B funding. Investors include Amgen VenturesDeerfield ManagementLife Science PartnersLogos Capital and RA Capital Management, with participation from earlier investors NEANovo Holdings and SR One. FierceBiotech has more here

    Repare Therapeutics, a three-year-old, Montreal-based precision oncology startup, has raised $82.5 million in Series B funding led by Cowen Healthcare Investments, with participation from OrbiMedRedmileBVF PartnersLogos Capital and earlier backers Versant VenturesMPM CapitalFonds de solidarité FTQ, and BDC Capital. Endpoints News has more here.

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    BrightInsight, a two-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based IoT platform for biopharma and medtech, has raised $25 million in Series A funding co-led by New Leaf Venture Partners and Eclipse VenturesMore here

    Cooks Venture, a year-old, New York-based agriculture technology company that partners with small farms to set up regenerative agricultural practices that use its intellectual property, has raised $12 million in funding from AMERRA Capital Management. TechCrunch has more here

    Fyllo, a six-month-old, Chicago-based marketing tech platform for the cannabis industry, just raised $16 million in seed(!) funding. JW Asset Management and K2 & Associates led the round. Crain’s Chicago Business has more here.

    iStar Medical, a nine-year-old, Belgium-based developer of ophthalmic implants to treat glaucoma, has raised €40 million in Series C funding co-led by LSP and GIMV, with participation from EarlybirdBNP Paribas Fortis PE and earlier investors Capricorn PartnersSRIW, and the Belgian Federal Investment FundMore here

    Olivela, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based luxury fashion e-commerce platform, just raised $35 million in Series A funding led by Morgan Stanley International. Women’s Wear Daily has more here

    Sight Sciences, a nine-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based developer of ophthalmic medical devices, has raised $31 million in Series D funding led by KCK Group. Mass Device has more here.

    Terramera, a nine-year-old, Vancouver-based developer of an alternative pesticide product, has raised $45 million in Series B funding led by Ospraie Ag Science, with participation from S2G Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    Smaller Fundings  

    Capcito, a four-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based financing platform for small and mid-size enterprises, has raised €7 million from Schibsted Growth, Ventech, SEB Venture Capital, and Collector Ventures. More here

    CrowdBureau, a six-year-old, New York-based startup that has rolled out a peer-to-peer lending and equity crowdfunding index, just raised $1.1 million in Series A funding led by Clydagh, Estuary Holdings and Alpama. More here

    DappRadar, a year-old, Lithuania-based platform for discovering and analyzing blockchain-based decentralized applications, has raised $2.33 million in seed funding led by Naspers, with participation from Blockchain.com Ventures and Angel Invest Berlin. More here

    Flat, a five-month-old, New York-based company aiming to take the Opendoor real estate marketplace model across the Rio Grande, has raised $4.5 million in pre-seed funding. ALLVP, an active early-stage fund in Mexico, led the round. Liquid 2 VenturesNextBillion and a few angels also joined the financing. TechCrunch has more here

    FPL Technologies, an eight-month-old, Pune, India-based startup that aims to build a full-stack solution to reimagine how people in India get their first credit card and engage with it, has raised $4.5 million from Matrix Partners IndiaSequoia Capital India, and others in its first-ever funding round. TechCrunch has more here

    Let’s Do This, a three-year-old, London-based database of marathons, ironman triathlons, and other endurance events, has raised $5 million in seed funding, including from NFX, Serena Williams, and Usain Bolt. More here

    PathoQuest, a nine-year-old, Paris, France-based startup focused on pathogen detection in biological samples, has raised €8 million from Norginer Ventures, Kurma Partners, Idinvest Partners, Investiere, and Charles River Labs. More here

    RippleMatch, a three-year-old, New York-based recruitment platform that helps organizations specifically connect with recent graduates from more diverse backgrounds that match their needs, has raised $6 million in Series A funding. G20 Ventures led the round, with participation from Work-Bench and earlier investors AccompliceBullpen Capital and AlleyCorp. TechCrunch has more here

    Saltbox, a six-month-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based co-working space operator for companies that also need warehouse space, just raised $3.2 million led by Village Global. Curbed Atlanta has more here

    Sourcewater, a five-year-old, Houston, Tex,-based startup that produces oilfield water intelligence software, just raised $7.2 million in Series A funding from Bison Technologies and Marubeni Corp., among others. The Houston Chronicle has more here

    Superside, a nearly four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based startup that wants to create a premium alternative to the existing crowdsourced design platforms (and which was formerly known as Knosus), has raised $3.5 million in new funding led by Freestyle Capital, with participation from High Alpha VenturesY Combinator and Alliance Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    Upflow, a two-year-old, Paris, France-based startup that tracks B2B companies’ outstanding invoices to help ensure they are paid on time, has raised $2.7 million in funding from Kima VentureseFounders and numerous angel investors. More here

    Veralox Therapeutics, a year-old, Frederick, Md.-based preclinical stage company that’s developing therapeutics for two life-threatening diseases — Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia (HIT) and HIT with Thrombosis (HITT) —  has raised a $5.4 million in seed funding. Investors include JDRF T1D FundSanofi Ventures, the Maryland Momentum Fund, the University of Vermont Health Network and TEDCO, among others. More here

    Not-Saying-How-Much Fundings  

    New Wave Foods, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that’s making a plant-based shrimp substitute, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from the venture capital arm of Tyson Foods. Tyson was also an investor in the company Beyond Meat prior to its IPO. TechCrunch has more here.


    Alibaba will buy e-commerce business Kaola from Chinese gaming company NetEase for $2 billion, adding a platform that specializes in supplying luxury goods from abroad to Chinese consumers. Reuters has more here

    OpenGov, the San Francisco-based  government performance management software company that earlier this week raised $51 million in Series D funding, has acquired ViewPoint, a permitting and licensing SaaS company that’s been around since 1995. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. ViewPoint does not appear to have been venture-backed, while OpenGov has raised roughly $140 million from investors to date. TechCrunch has more here.


    Brendan Baker, formerly a director with the venture firm Greylock, has joined Ridge Ventures in San Francisco as a partner. Business Insider has more here

    Greylock partner Reid Hoffman today posted a Hamilton-inspired rap battle video about cryptocurrency on LinkedIn. A spokesperson tells Business Insider that Hoffman “hopes the video gets more people talking about crypto and its evolving role in global commerce.” 

    IVP, the late-stage venture firm, added three investors to its roster: James Black and Karthik Ramakrishnan, both formerly of Qatalyst Partners, and Becca Faust, formerly of Goldman Sachs. 

    On stage in San Francisco today, Box CEO Aaron Levie sounded unconcerned about the activist hedge fund Starboard Value purchasing a 7.5 percent stake in the company, but Business Insider spoke to several analysts, and the consensus appears to be that Starboard’s most likely play is to pressure management into improving Box’s profit margins. Says its report: “That could, potentially, lead to Box having to cut costs, which could mean layoffs. Besides that, analysts say, Box could well end up get gobbled up by a larger tech company.” 

    Nicholas Negroponte really did not fix things.

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