• August 6, 2019


    Quick note/correction: We yesterday said that a new round for startup Scale AI was led by Index Ventures. Index participated in the round (along with numerous other outfits), but it was led by Founders Fund.

    Top News

    Phew. U.S. stocks recouped some of their losses today after China backed off from a further escalation in its trade and currency dispute with the Trump administration. More in the WSJ

    Snap said today that it will raise $1 billion in short-term debt and plans to invest in more media content, augmented reality features and may also buy other companies, reports Reuters. The company has been enjoying user growth after a tough 2018, but as the outlet notes, it still has to battle against big competitors like Facebook and fast-growing rivals — especially TikTok.  

    Mastercard is buying a payments platform owned by Denmark-based Nets for $3.19 billion in its biggest acquisition ever, says Bloomberg. What it gets for its money: an electronic-billing platform and clearing and instant-payment services, though the company warns the deal will impact profits through early 2022, potentially. Nets employs around 3,500 people and provides processing services to more than 240 banks, it says. It was acquired last year by Evergood 5, a firm controlled by the private equity firm Hellman & Friedman. More here

    Walgreens is closing 200 stores in the U.S. —  fallout from too many pharmacies up and running in U.S. cities, as well as the growing number of consumers spending more time online instead of browsing the aisles. CNBC has more here.

    Sponsored By …

    Want to learn why top VCs and business leaders leverage Affinity? Using patent-pending technology, Affinity helps teams manage and grow their networks by unlocking introductions to decision makers and auto-populating pipelines to increase deal flow. In industries where success is contingent upon maintaining high-touch relationships, Affinity allows you to get deeper insights into your network and finally eliminate manual data entry.

    As Crypto-Backed Loans Take Off, BlockFi Benefits 

    Last year, we told you about a New York-based startup that had begun lending cold, hard, cash to cryptocurrency holders who don’t want to offload their holdings but also don’t necessarily want so much of their assets tied up in cryptocurrencies. 

    Today, that two-year-old company, BlockFi, is announcing $18.3 million in Series A funding led by Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, with participation from Winklevoss Capital, Morgan Creek Digital, Akuna Capital and earlier backers Galaxy Digital Ventures and ConsenSys Ventures. 

    Apparently, BlockFi is gaining some traction. 

    Last year, after raising $1.5 million in seed funding from ConsenSys Ventures, SoFi and Kenetic Capital, it secured $50 million led by Galaxy Digital Ventures (the digital currency and blockchain tech firm founded by famed investor Mike Novogratz) that is used to loan out cash to customers who use their bitcoin and ethereum holdings as collateral. 

    The minimum deposit required: $20,000 worth of cryptocurrency. 

    According to founder Zac Prince, who talked with Bloomberg about BlockFi’s newest round, enough people are now using those loans that BlockFi has seen its monthly revenue grow more than 10 times since January. 

    No doubt the uptick in loans correlates with the rebound in Bitcoin’s value, which was priced as low as $3,400 earlier this year but is now valued at roughly $11,400. 

    Prince also told the outlet that he expects annual revenue to hit eight figures by the end of this year. In startup land, that means it’s time to roll out new money-making services. 

    More here.

    Massive Fundings  

    Cockroach Labs, a four-year-old, New York-based open-source distributed database, just raised $55 million in Series C funding led by Altimeter CapitalTiger GlobalManagement and earlier investor GV, with participation from BenchmarkIndex VenturesRedpoint VenturesFirstMark Capital, and Work-Bench. TechCrunch has more here

    Cybereason, a seven-year-old, Boston-based endpoint security company that uses machine learning to increase the number of endpoints a single analyst can manage across a network of distributed resources, has raised $200 million. The capital comes from earlier investor SoftBank Group and its affiliates. TechCrunch has more here

    Inari, a three-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based plant breeding startup that was founded by the life sciences-focused venture firm Flagship Pioneering and spun out last year, has raised $89 million in Series C funding. Flagship led the round; other investors include Investment Corp. of DubaiEDBI, and Acre Venture Partners. The company says it can develop seeds customized with the traits that help a crop grow best in its local conditions. More here

    Klarna, a 14-year-old, Sweden-based company that pops up at the checkout of many online stores, offering to help cover the cost of a purchase by spreading out payment, has raised $460 million in funding at a post-money valuation of $5.5 billion. Dragoneer Investment Group led the round, joined by the Commonwealth Bank of AustraliaHMI CapitalMerian Chrysalis Investment CompanyFörsta AP-Fonden, and others. TechCrunch has more here

    HawkEye 360, a four-year-old, Herndon, Va.-based company that’s building a constellation of radio-frequency data satellites, has raised $70 million in Series B funding. Investors include AirbusEsriRazor’s Edge VenturesAllied Minds, and Shield Capital Partners. SpaceNews has more here

    LanzaTech, a 14-year-old, Chicago-based company that sells technology that transforms carbon pollution into ethanol, a renewable fuel and feedstock for chemicals, has raised $72 million in Series E funding from Novo HoldingsMore here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    Awfis, a four-year-old, New Delhi, India-based startup that operates co-working spaces, has raised $30 million in Series D funding led by ChrysCapital. Earlier investors Sequoia Capital India and The Three Sisters Institutional Office also participated in the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $81 million. TechCrunch has more here

    Carro, a four-year-old, Singapore-based online auto classifieds and financing company, has tacked on $30 million to an earlier Series B financing that brings the round’s total to $90 million. Backers include SoftBank Ventures Asia, the government-linked global investor EDBIDietrich FoundationB Capital Group, and NCORE Ventures, among others. The company has also acquired the Indonesia-based marketplace Jualo (it sells cars, fashion — even property). Terms of that deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here

    CompareAsiaGroup, a five-year-old, Hong Kong-based online comparison shopping engine for banking and insurance products and services, just raised $20 million in Series B1 funding led by Experian. (Which is interesting because it first closed this Series B round with $50 million more than two years ago.) The company has now raised roughly $90 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

    Dough, a new, Chicago-based commission-free online broker that aims to take on Robinhood, has raised $20 million from the venture-backed fintech startup Tastytrade, which will operate Dough as a subsidiary. Crain’s Chicago Business has more here

    Fluent Commerce, a six-year-old, Australia-based company that helps traditional retailers rival Amazon by bolstering their online ordering systems, has raised $33 million in Series B funding led by the private equity firm Arrowroot Capital. Financial Review has more here.  

    Fynd, a seven-year-old Mumbai, India-based online fashion marketplace, is trading an 87.6 percent stake in its business for $42.3 million from the Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries. TechCrunch has more here

    InCountry, a months-old, San Francisco-based data residency-as-a-service platform that looks to enable global data compliance for international business, has raised $15 million in Series A funding from Arbor VenturesGlobal Founders CapitalMubadala and earlier backers Caffeinated CapitalFelicis VenturesCRV, and Team Builder Ventures. Crunchbase News has more here

    IVX Health, a seven-year-old, Nashville, Tn.-based operator of ambulatory infusion centers, raised $22.5 million co-led by McKesson Ventures and Health Velocity CapitalMore here

    Sidecar Health, a year-old, El Segundo, Ca.-based platform that invites users to create insurance plans around their needs and budget by choosing how much coverage they want, has raised $18 million in funding led by GreatPoint Ventures and Morpheus VenturesMore here

    Teralytics, a seven-year-old, Zurich, Switzerland-based company that works with telecom companies and data partners to capture information about people’s geographical locations, movement habits and demographics (completely anonymized and aggregated, it says), has raised $17.5 million in funding. Robert Bosch VC led the round, joined by Innogy VenturesDeutsche Bahn Digital VenturesLBBW Venture CapitalLiil Ventures and earlier investors Atomico and LakestarMore here

    TickPick, a seven-year-old, New York-based online ticketing marketplace, has raised $40 million in its first institutional funding from PWP Growth Equity. TechCrunch has more here

    Smaller Fundings  

    Backbone, a five-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based maker of a cloud-based, workflow suite for consumer goods companies, has raised $10 million in Series A2 funding led by Foundry Group. VentureBeat has more here

    DeepCode, a three-year-old, Swiss platform for AI-powered code reviews, has raised $4 million in seed funding led by Earlybird, with participation from 3VC and btov Partners. VentureBeat has more here

    FTX, a year-old, Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency derivatives exchange, has raised $8 million from a blockchain-focused venture capital fund called Proof of Capital and from the blockchain firm Consensus Lab, among others. CoinTelegraph has more here

    Penta, a 1.5-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based business banking startup for SMEs, has raised €8 million in funding led by HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, with participation from Finleap and Fabrick. TechCrunch has more here

    Squad, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based social screen sharing and group video chat app that enables users to easily block and report inappropriate behavior, has raised $5 million in seed funding. First Round Capital led the round  and was joined by BetaworksY CombinatorAlpha Bridge VenturesDay One VenturesJane VC, serial founder Gina Bianchini, and early Snapchat employee Sebastian Gil. TechCrunch has more here

    Suralink, a five-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based maker of workflow management software for the accounting industry, has raised $5.25 million from Growth Street PartnersMore here

    Zero, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based fasting app (one among other fasting apps that are raising alarms in some quarters), just raised $2.8 million from True Ventures and Trinity VenturesMore here

    Not-Saying-How-Much Fundings 

    Ibotta, a seven-year-old, Denver, Co.-based mobile rewards platform, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series D funding led by Koch Disruptive Technologies at a $1 billion valuation. The round comes after three previous rounds totaling roughly $85 million. VentureBeat has more here.

    New Funds 

    Dick Costolo and Adam Bain, Twitter’s former CEO and COO, respectively, are launching a new startup advisory and venture capital firm called 01 Advisors that has raised $135 million in capital commitments per an SEC filing, though it’s reportedly seeking up to $200 million altogether. Axios has the story here

    Three members of the New York-based startup studio Human Ventures — Joe Marchese, Nick Bell, and Ashlyn Gentry — are launching a new outfit called Attention Capital to buy, build, and scale media brands and the technologies that power them. Bell, a former VP of content at Snap, and Gentry, a former SVP of growth at Palantir, had joined Human Ventures in March. Marchese, who cofounded Human Ventures, was formerly a president of advertising revenue at Fox Networks. Variety reports that the Attention team hopes to raise between $400 million and $500 million.  

    Main Post Partners, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based venture and private equity firm focused on consumer deals (and founded by some former Weston Presidio alums), is looking to raise up to $500 million for a venture fund, shows an SEC filing. The outfit closed its sophomore fund with $700 million late last year. It closed its first fund with $400 million in 2016. More here.


    Microsoft yesterday acquired PromoteIQ, a seven-year-old, New York-based company that has focused on helping retailers incorporate ads into their online storefronts. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. PromoteIQ had raised $6.5 million, including from Nauta Capital. CNBC explains the deal here

    Publicly traded SurveyMonkey is acquiring GetFeedback, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based customer experience management company. Financial terms aren’t being disclosed in this deal, either. GetFeedback had raised rough $2.3 million in funding, including from Salesforce VenturesMore here.


    If JPMorgan wins the coveted role of lead banker in WeWork’s upcoming IPO as is expected, it will be a win for the institution that was many years — and many loans — in the making.


    After just five days of streaming, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is boasting one million active subscribers on Mixer, the Microsoft-owned platform that made him jump ship from Twitch. 

    Oak HC/FT, which just announced a new fund last week, has this week announced some promotions, including of Nancy Brown to general partner; Dan Petrozzo, Matt Streisfeld, and Michelle Daubar to partner; and Ravi Singh to CFO. More here

    Courtney Powell has been named COO of 500 Startups. Powell was previously the founder and CEO of PublikDemand, a startup that went through the 500 Startups accelerator. Business Insider has more here.


    Wellington Management is looking to add a principal for its late-stage growth investment team. The job is in San Francisco.

    Essential Reads 

    In New York, an all-volunteer community is creating its own high-speed internet service

    Test-driving the new Apple Card.


    The case against octopus farming

    Why you’re shopping too much online

    Remembering Toni Morrison.

    Retail Therapy 

    The L.A. penthouse that “Friends” bought and you can buy now, too, if you have $35 million.

  • August 5, 2019

    Happy Monday? 🙂

    Top News

    You may have noticed: the markets got clobbered today, after China allowed its currency to fall to its lowest level against the dollar in over a decade as part of its escalating trade war with the U.S. The development followed Donald Trump’s announcement last week that the U.S. will impose another 10 percent tariff on $300 billion of Chinese imports beginning next month as punishment for not making large-scale purchases of American farm products.  

    If the U.S. continues to raise tariffs on Chinese goods in the coming months and China responds, expect a global recession in three quarters, Morgan Stanley now says

    Tech stocks were particularly hard hit

    To put a really fine point on things, the Trump administration late today designated China a “currency manipulator,” the first time the U.S. has made such a move since the early 1990s. As CNN notes, designating a country doesn’t “immediately trigger penalties, but it is seen by other governments as a provocation.”

    Sponsored By …

    Want to learn why top VCs and business leaders leverage Affinity? Using patent-pending technology, Affinity helps teams manage and grow their networks by unlocking introductions to decision makers and auto-populating pipelines to increase deal flow. In industries where success is contingent upon maintaining high-touch relationships, Affinity allows you to get deeper insights into your network and finally eliminate manual data entry.

    Massive Fundings  

    Scale AI, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup whose software tools take a first pass at marking up pictures before they’re handed off to a network of roughly 30,000 contract workers to perform the finishing touches, has raised $100 million. Index Ventures led the round, which assigns the startup a post-money valuation of more than $1 billion, reports Bloomberg. The company’s other backers include Accel and Founders FundMore here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    Carwow, a six-year-old, London-based price comparison site that lets customers research and buy cars from dealers, has raised £25 million in funding led by Daimler, with participation from BaldertonAccel and Vitruvian. The Times has more here

    Exo Imaging, a four-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company at work on an ultrasound system intended to give physicians a single, handheld probe that can be used for the entire body, has raised $35 million in Series B funding. Intel Capital led the round, with participation from Applied VenturesBold CapitalCreative VenturesLongevity Vision FundMagnetar CapitalNautilus Venture PartnersOSF HealthcareRising Tide FundSony Innovation Fund and Wanxiang Healthcare Investments. The company has now raised roughly $50 million altogether. FierceBiotech has more here

    Fever, a 5.5-year-old, Madrid- and London-based social event discovery platform, has raised $35 million in funding led by Rakuten Group, with participation from AtresmediaAccel and Michael Zeisser, who is the former chairman of U.S. investments for Alibaba Group. TechCrunch has more here

    Hello Heart, a six-year-old, Bay Area-based startup behind a blood pressure lowering app, raised $12 million in Series B funding led by Khosla Ventures. FierceBiotech has more here

    Human Interest, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based financial services startup that’s trying to make it easier for employers to offer retirement plans through an automated, paperless 401(k), has raised $15.4 million in Series B funding. U.S. Venture Partners led the round, joined by earlier backers Wing VCUncork Capital, and Slow Ventures, among others. Crunchbase News has more here

    Indifi, a four-year-old, Gurgaon, India-based startup that offers loans to small and medium-sized businesses and also operates an online lending marketplace, has raised $20.4 million in Series C funding led by CDC Group,  a U.K.-government-owned venture fund. Earlier backers AccelElevar EquityOmidyar Networks, and Flourish Ventures also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $34 million. TechCrunch has more here.

    Lucira Health, a six-year-old, Emeryville, Ca.-based developer of non-instrument molecular infectious disease testing products, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Seraph Group, with participation from Eclipse VenturesDCVCY Combinator and Sunstone ManagementMore here

    SmartNews, a seven-year-old, Tokyo-based, AI-powered news aggregation app, has raised $28 million in Series E funding at a post-money valuation of $1.1 billion. Japan Post Capital led the round, with participation from earlier backers, including the Development Bank of JapanSMBC Venture Capital, and Japan Co-Invest. The company has now raised $116 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

    Smaller Fundings  

    NextStep Interactive, a 1.5-year-old, Seattle- and Bozeman, Mt.-based digital healthcare training platform, has raised $3 million in funding. Investors include SEI VenturesJAZZ Venture Partners, Learn CapitalSpringrock VenturesCity Light Capital and Frontier Angels. MobiHealth News has more here

    Romeo Power, a four-year-old, Vernon, Ca.-based developer of power systems for electric vehicles, has raised $4 million from HG Ventures, the corporate venture arm of The Heritage Group, an engineering services firm. (Financially, this is a drop in the bucket for Romeo, which has raised more than $100 million in funding so far.) More here

    Sheets & Giggles, a two-year-old, Denver-based bedding brand, has raised $1.3 million in seed funding led by Rockies Venture ClubMore here

    Not-Saying-How-Much Fundings 

    Henry’s Original, a four-year-old, Gardena, Ca.-based company that makes pre-rolled cannabis smokes among other things, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series B funding led by Merida Capital Partners, a private equity firm focused solely on the cannabis and hemp industries. Other investors in the round include Big Rock PartnersDelta Emerald Ventures, and funds managed by JW Asset ManagementMore here.

    New Funds 

    American Family Insurance Group, a Wisconsin-based company that sells home and auto coverage and other insurance products, runs a venture capital arm that’s focused on opportunities that benefit the company. And it has raised $162.5 million for a third venture fund that may close with as much as $200 million, shows an SEC filing that states that four investors have provided the committed capital thus far. More here

    CAVU Venture Partners, a four-year-old, New York-based consumer-focused venture firm that’s especially keen on food and beverage startups, is in the process of raising up to $250 million for its third fund, shows an SEC filing. The outfit had closed its second fund with $209 million in 2017. As Forbes reported then, the firm got a running start thanks to cofounder Rohan Oza, who has been “closely tied to the multi-billion dollar success story of Vitaminwater,” and who has business and social ties to celebrities like Justin Timberlake. More here.


    Airbnb is acquiring Urbandoor, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based platform that offers extended stays to corporate clients. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed and Urbandoor doesn’t seem to have announced outside funding (as far as we can tell). In addition to Urbandoor focusing more than Airbnb on business travelers and employees who are relocating, unlike Airbnb, it negotiates with property managers instead of with renters. TechCrunch has more here

    Barneys New York, the luxury retailer,  is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection and nearing an agreement with lenders for a financing package that would give it time to find a buyer, says the WSJ. The restructuring plan reportedly under discussion calls for Barneys, which operates 13 department stores and nine warehouse stores, to immediately shut down most of its locations and look for a buyer for seven core stores. More here

    Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hail giant, just spun out its autonomous driving unit as an independent company. As notes the Financial Times, the move mirrors a similar one made by Uber earlier this year as Uber, under pressure from investors ahead of its IPO, spun out its own costly self-driving car business, Advanced Technologies Group. More here

    Hewlett Packard Enterprise says it’s acquiring the “business assets” of MapR, a 10-year-old, artificial intelligence and analytics startup that had raised $280 million from investors from MayfieldLightspeed Venture PartnersNEA, and Redpoint, among others. According to Barron’s, the transaction price was less than $50 million. Business Insider had reported that the company was in serious trouble in May. More here

    The two largest newspaper chains in the U.S. — GateHouse Media and Gannett Co. —  agreed today to combine their businesses in a roughly $1.4 billion deal, further consolidating an industry reeling from strong economic headwinds. More here

    Takeaway.com has agreed to buy competing food delivery company Just Eat in an all-stock deal that values Just Eat at nearly £5 billion. The tie-up of the two publicly traded, European companies creates the largest food delivery business outside of China. TechCrunch has more here.


    Endeavor Group, the company behind Hollywood’s largest talent agency, plans to delay its IPO until September at the earliest, says the WSJ. The reasons, it says: Endeavor is closing in on the purchase of premium-hospitality and live-events company On Location Experiences for as much as $700 million. Endeavor also wants to be able to tout its second-quarter results and renegotiated contracts for soccer events. More here

    WeWork is close to naming JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group to lead its IPO, says Bloomberg. More here.


    Adam Marchick, a serial entrepreneur whose last two companies include Alpine.AI and Kahuna, has joined L.A.-based Chernin Group as an executive in residence.  

    Chris Downer, formerly an associate with the insurtech venture capital firm XL Innovate, has joined Sorenson Ventures as a principal. 

    Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick lately has gone on a hiring spree to staff his latest startup, CloudKitchens—nabbing at least four senior engineers from Uber. That has Uber management irked, reports The Information. In fact, it reports that Uber’s chairman, Ron Sugar, two weeks ago reminded his fellow directors (including Kalanick) that they might remember their “fiduciary duty” to the company.


    The $900 billion packaging industry is booming, suggests an alarming new report.

    Essential Reads 

    Online forum 8chan—used by the suspect in the El Paso, Texas, shooting Saturday that left 22 people dead—is working to restore service after being offline since late Sunday night, but the web-services company that host the site had its content blocked by its cloud-services provider Voxility, which cited its stand against hate speech. The site was earlier kicked off temporarily by Cloudflare, whose tools protect websites from cyberattacks and allows them to load more quickly. Though its CEO, Matthew Prince, expressed reluctance over playing enforcer, he said he views 8chan as a “lawless” platform that had willfully ignored warnings about violent extremism

    The scramble to secure America’s voting machines.


    The best songs of 2019 (so far). 

    The math whiz who won the lottery . . . 14 times

    What to expect if, by some stroke of bad luck, you fall into a pool of sharks.

    Retail Therapy 

    PhoneSoap for your smartphone.

  • August 2, 2019

    August! And also, Friday! [Attempts front handspring; crumples against office door.]  

    Hope you have a terrific weekend; see you in a few days.:)

    Top News 

    In a big, seemingly ill-conceived, shift, Facebook plans to signal its control of Instagram and WhatsApp by adding its name to both apps, according to The Information, which says the apps will be called “Instagram from Facebook” and “WhatsApp from Facebook.” The outlet speculates that, among other things, Facebook wants more credit for the growth of these subsidiaries. Of course, many people who no longer trust Facebook conveniently forget that it owns Instagram and WhatsApp, which may explain why the move is being “met with surprise and confusion internally.” More here

    Sponsored By …

    Want to learn why top VCs and business leaders leverage Affinity? Using patent-pending technology, Affinity helps teams manage and grow their networks by unlocking introductions to decision makers and auto-populating pipelines to increase deal flow. In industries where success is contingent upon maintaining high-touch relationships, Affinity allows you to get deeper insights into your network and finally eliminate manual data entry.

    The SEC Wants Disgraced VC Mike Rothenberg to Cough Up $30 Million 

    Nearly three years ago, TechCrunch reported on suspected fraud committed by Mike Rothenberg, a self-described “millennial venture capitalist” who’d made a name for himself not only by eponymously branding his venture firm but for spending lavishly to woo startup founders, including on Napa Valley wine tours, at luxury boxes at Golden State Warriors games, and most famously, hosting an annual “founder field day” at the San Francisco Giants’s baseball stadium that later inspired a scene in the HBO show “Silicon Valley.” 

    The Securities & Exchange Commission had initially reached out to Rothenberg in June of 2016 and by last August, he’d been formally charged for misappropriating up to $7 million of his investors’ capital. He settled with the agency without making an admission of guilt, and, as part of the settlement, he stepped down from what was left of the firm and agreed to be barred from the brokerage and investment advisory business with a right to reapply after five years. 

    Now, comes the money part. Following a forensic audit conducted in partnership with the accounting firm Deloitte, the SEC is seeking $18.8 million in disgorgement penalties from Rothenberg, and an additional $9 million civil penalty. The SEC is also asking that Rothenberg be forced to pay pre-judgment interest of $3,663,323.47. 

    How it arrived at that math: according to a new lawsuit filed on Wednesday, the SEC argues that Rothenberg raised a net amount of approximately $45.9 million across six venture funds from at least 200 investors, but that he took “fees” on their capital that far exceeded what his firm was entitled to during the life of those funds, covering up these “misdeeds” by “modifying accounting entries to make his misappropriation look like investments, entering into undisclosed transactions to paper over diverted money, and shuffling investments from one [f]und to another to conceal prior diversions.” 

    Ultimately, it says, Deloitte’s examination demonstrated that Rothenberg misappropriated $18.8 million that rightfully belong to Rothenberg Ventures, $3.8 million of which was transferred to Rothenberg personally; $8.8 million of which was used to fund other entities under his control (including a car racing team and a virtual reality studio); and $5.7 of which was used to pay the firm’s expenses “over and above” the management and administrative fees it was entitled to per its management agreements. 

    We reached out to Rothenberg this morning. He has not yet responded to our request to discuss the development. 

    It sounds from the filing like he won’t have much wiggle room. 

    More here.

    Massive Fundings  

    Babylon Health, a six-year-old, U.K.-based startup that has developed a number of AI-based health services, including a chatbot used by the U.K’.s National Health Service to help diagnose ailments, has confirmed a massive investment that it plans to use to expand its business to the U.S. and Asia. The $550 million round — which comes in part from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, Munich Re’s ERGO Fund, and earlier investors Kinnevik and Vostok New Ventures — values the company at more than $2 billion and is apparently the largest-ever fundraise in Europe or U.S. for digital health delivery. TechCrunch has more here

    Latch, a six-year-old, New York-based company that sells its smart locks to property managers, has raised $56 million in new funding led by Avenir Growth Capital at a valuation of $400 million. (As the WSJ notes, it was valued at $250 million last year, when Brookfield Ventures, a unit of real-estate firm Brookfield Asset Management, led an investment in the company.) More here

    Ninja-Cart, a four-year-old, Bengaluru, India-based fresh produce supply chain company, is reportedly on the cusp of raising $50 million in funding from U.S. retailing giant Walmart, which operates cash-and-carry stores in India under the Best Price brand and also is the majority owner of Flipkart. The Economic Times has more here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    Scalable Capital, a five-year-old, Munich, Germany-based digital wealth management startup, has raised €25 million in Series C funding round from earlier shareholders BlackRockHV Holtzbrinck Ventures, and Tengelmann Ventures. The company has now raise €66 million altogether. EU Startups has more here

    Smaller Fundings  

    Biome Makers, a four-year-old, West Sacramento, Ca.-based company that uses data analytics and AI to analyze soil and provide data-driven insights to farmers, has raised $4 million in funding co-led by Seaya Ventures and JME Ventures, with participation from LocalGlobeDumpling, a nearly three-year-old, Seattle-based startup that’s aiming to empower people to run their own grocery delivery businesses, has raised $3 million in seed funding from Floodgate and Fuel CapitalMore here

    FNA, a five-year-old, London-based startup that’s selling a regulatory technology analytics platform, has raised $5.5 million in Series A funding led by IQ Capital, with participation from GettyLabMore here

    Holloway, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based online publishing company that aims to distill industry expertise into information guides, has raised $4.6 million in seed funding. Backers include NEAThe New York Times, and South Park CommonsMore here

    Yoti, a four-year-old, London-based startup offering a digital identity platform and app that helps users prove who they say they are when accessing services or making age-verified purchases, has raised £8 million in new funding from unnamed private investors, Yoti employees, and company cofounder and CEO Robin Tombs. TechCrunch has more here

    Not-Saying-How-Much Fundings 

    Fantasy Life, a four-year-old, New York-based online community for fantasy sports players and bettors, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding from SK VenturesUpstage Ventures and numerous athletes. World Casino News has more here.

    New Funds 

    Coatue Management has closed $700 million for a new early-stage venture capital fund; Dan Rose, a former Facebook vice president, has joined Coatue Management as co-chairman of the new fund and the firm’s existing growth fund, whose bets include Snap and DoorDash. Coatue recently opened a new office in South Park in San Francisco, one appointed in “the style of a clubhouse by the designer of the Los Angeles Soho House,” reports The Information. More here

    Iporanga Ventures, a 10-year-old, Sao Paulo, Brazil-based investment firm that specializes in venture capital, equities, fixed income and currencies, is looking to raise up to $100 million for an early-stage venture-capital fund, shows an SEC filingMore here

    Nyca Partners, a New York-based firm with investments in fintech startups, including PayRange, Trellis, Affirm and Acorns, has secured $210 million in capital commitments for its third venture capital fund. The firm’s debut fund had closed on $31 million in 2014. Its second fund, a similarly focused fintech effort, raised $125 million in 2017. TechCrunch has more here

    OSF Ventures, the three-year-old, Peoria, Il.-based corporate venture capital arm of OSF HealthCare, has closed its sophomore venture capital fund with $75 million in committed capital. Like its predecessor, the fund will invest in new technology, devices, and services that offer improved and more cost-efficient healthcare. More here.

    Sponsored By … 

    GoingVC is a professional development program designed to help its participants prepare for careers in the venture capital field. Thus far, 40% of GVC members have entered a VC role within a year of starting the program, leveraging GoingVC’s ever-growing community and network of investors in the process. GoingVC has just opened up applications for its 5th cohort, which will begin in Fall 2019. Click here to learn more and apply.


    Bhaskar Sunkara has joined the Cisco-backed venture firm Decibel as a venture partner. Sunkara was the founding CTO of AppDynamics. More here.

    Essential Reads 

    Apple has suspended its practice of having human contractors listen to users’ Siri recordings to “grade” them, following a Guardian report revealing the practice. The company says it won’t restart the program until it has conducted a thorough review of the practice. It also says it will add the ability for users to opt out of the quality assurance scheme in a future software update.


    Everything that’s coming to Netflix this month. 

    Banana milk is also now a thing. 

    Things people say to their dogs.

    Retail Therapy 

    Antikythera island. Bonus: you’ll live on a Greek island! Downside: with just 20 other residents, you’d better know how to fish.

  • StrictlyVC: August 16, 2018

    Hi, happy Thursday, all. We have to zoom off sort of abruptly today so we may be missing something juicy in today’s newsletter. If so, we’ll get you caught up tomorrow morning.
    Top News
    In a company email earlier today, Twitter cited “technical and business constraints” as the reason behind a new shutdown of third-party APIs. The move has users and developers furious.
    Sponsored By . . .
    Goodbye iPhone! This could be 40x better. If you own Apple’s stock, know someone who does, or have even thought about buying it . . . there’s something you need to know.
    New Zealand to VCs and Hedge Funders Buying Up Its Land: No More
    Over the last couple of years, a once well-kept secret began to gain traction in New York media outlets: wealthy American investors, including VCs and hedge fund managers, had begun snapping up tracts of land in New Zealand, largely out of fear that a Trump administration could have a destabilizing effect on an already polarized United States but also owing to growing concerns about climate change and other impending disaster scenarios.

    Now, facing a growing backlash over rising housing prices, New Zealand’s parliament has banned non-residents from purchasing most types of homes, aside from new apartments in large developments. (Australians and Singaporeans are exempt because of free-trade deals.)

    The bill, passed narrowly yesterday, was reportedly heralded by New Zealand’s Trade and Economic Development Minister David Parker as a “significant milestone.” Said Parker, “This government believes that New Zealanders should not be outbid by wealthier foreign buyers . . . Whether it’s a beautiful lakeside or ocean-front estate, or a modest suburban house, this law ensures that the market for our homes is set in New Zealand, not on the international market.”

    The move to block foreign buyers isn’t a complete shock given the amount of publicity that New Zealand has garnered in recent years as a haven for wealthy survivalists, including those in tech. The New Yorker began exploring the trend in a profile about Y Combinator President Sam Altman, which said that Altman’s plan, in the case of a pandemic, was to “fly with his friend Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist, to Thiel’s house in New Zealand.” 

    The outlet followed up with another piece several months later, in January of last year, about many other investors who’d come to see New Zealand as their backup plan. In fact, there were so many of them — particularly hedge fund managers — that it had become a bit of a running joke, LinkedIn founder and investor Reid Hoffman told the magazine. He recalled telling a friend that he was thinking of visiting New Zealand, after which the friend had asked Hoffman, “Oh, are you going to get apocalypse insurance?” Said Hoffman to the New Yorker, “Saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more. Once you’ve done the Masonic handshake, they’ll be, like, ‘Oh, you know, I have a broker who sells old ICBM silos, and they’re nuclear-hardened, and they kind of look like they would be interesting to live in.’ ” 

    More here.
    New Fundings
    Arcadia Power, a four-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based “digital utility” startup focused on clean energy, has raised $25 million in fresh funding led by G2VP, with participation from ValueAct Spring FundMcKnight FoundationEnergy Impact PartnersCendana CapitalWonder Ventures and BoxGroup. TechCrunch has more here.  

    Cargomatic, a 5.5-year-old, Long Beach, Ca.-based tech platform that connects shippers and carriers, has raised $35 million in Series B financing led by funds affiliated with Warburg Pincus, with participation from Canaan Partners, Genesee & WyomingXplorer Capital and Muse Family Enterprises. The WSJ has more here.

    Clobotics, a three-year-old, Shanghai- and Seattle-based company that provides intelligent computer vision solutions for the wind power and retail industries, has added $11 million to its Series A funding, pushing the round to $21 million. New investors include Nantian Infotech VC and Wangsu Company. VentureBeat has more here

    Deposit Solutions, a seven-year-old, Hamburg, Germany-based startup that lets people access the best interest rates from multiple banks without having to open up new accounts, has raised $100 million in new funding at a $500 million post-money valuation led by Vitruvian Partners, with participation from Kinnevik and earlier backers, including e.ventures. Business insider has more here

    Freeletics, a five-year-old, Munich, Germany-based startup whose workout and nutrition apps are used by 30 million users globally, has raised undisclosed but “significant” amount of funding from Courtside VenturesElysian Park VenturesCauseway Media PartnersJAZZ Venture Partners, and ward.venturesMore here

    Lucidity, a 15-month-old, L.A.-based digital advertising blockchain, has raised $5 million in funding from 3RodeoCoinUsCypher GroupYouBi Capital, and Pithia. (We’ve heard of none of these outfits, fwiw.). More here

    myLAB Box, a five-year-old, L.A.-based at-home STD testing service, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding led by K5 Ventures and Texas HALO Fund, with participation from Morgan StanleyPasadena AngelsPipeline Angels, and Sand Hill Angels. The company has now raised $2.1 million altogether. More here

    Rhumbix, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of cloud-based mobile workforce management for the construction industry, has raised $8 million in funding led by AutodeskMore here

    ROOM, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based startup that’s focused on reducing noise in open office spaces (its first product is a soundproof phone booth), has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Slow Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    Sendo, a Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam-based online selling platform, has raised $51 million in Series B funding led by SBI Group, with participation from SoftBank Ventures KoreaDaiwa PI Partners and SKS Ventures. Tech in Asia has more here

    SFOX, a young, Stanford, Ca.-based cryptocurrency dealer that’s setting out to provide trading services for institutional investors, has raised $22.7 million in funding from Tribe Capital and Social Capital, with additional participation from Airbnb co-founder Nathan BlecharczykY CombinatorDanhua Venture CapitalDigital Currency Group and more. CoinDesk has more here

    Sila Nano, a seven-year-old, Alameda, Ca.-based developer of new materials for batteries, has raised $70 million in Series D funding led by Sutter Hill Ventures, with participation from Next47Amperex Technology and earlier backers like Bessemer Venture Partners. MIT Review has more here

    Thunder Stone Technology, a seven-year-old, Singapore-based maker of karaoke systems, has raised $29 million in Series B funding led by China Minsheng Investment Group, with participation from Morningside Venture CapitalMore here.
    Sponsored By . . .
    Want to learn why top VCs and business leaders leverage Affinity? Using patent-pending technology, Affinity helps teams manage and grow their networks byunlocking introductions to decision makers and auto-populating pipelines to increase deal flow. In industries where success is contingent upon maintaining high-touch relationships, Affinity allows you to get deeper insights into your network and finallyeliminate manual data entry.
    New Funds
    Bumble, the dating app that requires women to send the first message, has launched a venture capital fund that emphasizes its female-focused mission. Bumble Fund invests primarily in businesses founded and led by women of color and those from other underrepresented groups. Sarah Jones Simmer, Bumble’s COO, will run the fund’s investment strategy. Pitchbook has more here

    Pantera Capital, the San Francisco investment firm that has made its mark in recent years by investing early and often in a wide variety of digital assets, is looking to raise up to $175 million for its third venture fund — an enormous jump from the $25 million it deployed for its second venture fund and its $13 million debut venture fund, which it closed in 2013. Partner Paul Veradittakit says the target amount is a “function of how fast the space is moving, the talent coming in, the opportunities, and the sizing of rounds. With more interesting later-stage investments [on our radar], too, we want to be flexible and able to move with the market.” Much more here.
    Scout Ventures, the roughly 10-year-old, seed-stage investment firm, is hiring anassociate. The job is in gleaming New York City. 
    Essential Reads
    Private investors have put a lot of faith in Wish becoming the online version of dollar stores, assigning it a valuation of about $8.5 billion. One possible hitch in those plans is that Wish’s new customers stop shopping at the site in fewer and fewer numbers within a few months of their first visits, according to credit card transaction data obtained by The Information. It shows just 8 percent of people in the U.S. who bought something from Wish for the first time between August 2016 and August 2017 were still shopping on the site a year later. More here

    In today’s Amazon news, the juggernaut is reportedly in the running to acquire Landmark Theaters, a move that would “vault the e-commerce giant into the brick-and-mortar cinema industry,” notes Bloomberg (though we’re also wondering about its other motives). More here.
    Confirmed: the pockets on women’s pants are indeed bullshite

    Outdoor urinals are causing an uproar in Paris.  

    Pick a cat name your cat will respond to. 
    Retail Therapy
    A graphene jacket that acts as a radiator. (Sign us up?)
  • StrictlyVC: August 15, 2018

    Happy Wednesday!

    Top News

    Y Combinator is expanding to China after a year or two of dropping hints about such plans. Toward that end, it announced the hiring last night of former Microsoft and Baidu executive Qi Lu, who will develop a standalone startup program that runs on Chinese soil. TechCrunch has more here

    Uber just reported its second quarter financials, showing a slight slowdown in net revenue and bookings growth. It also said losses widened from the previous quarter. TechCrunch has more here

    It’s official: Goldman Sachs is (now) advising Tesla on its bid to go private, says Business Insider. In the meantime, the S.E.C. has reportedly subpoenaed Tesla over the issue.
    Sponsored By . . .
    Want to learn why top VCs and business leaders leverage Affinity? Using patent-pending technology, Affinity helps teams manage and grow their networks byunlocking introductions to decision makers and auto-populating pipelines to increase deal flow. In industries where success is contingent upon maintaining high-touch relationships, Affinity allows you to get deeper insights into your network and finallyeliminate manual data entry.
    Catching Up with Startup Whisperer (and Wealthfront CEO) Andy Rachleff
    Andy Rachleff,  who cofounded the venture firm Benchmark back in 1995 and has more recently been leading the wealth management firm Wealthfront and teaching at Stanford, is widely sought out for his startup advice. It has become harder to come by, though, given the demands on Rachleff’s time. Most notably, Rachleff has had to dial back his work at Stanford to one course during one quarter of the year — a class that we can only guess is heavily oversubscribed by students.

    That doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy the work. Right now, he’s helping two longtime friends, AppDynamics cofounder Jyoti Bansal and VC John Vrionis, with a new kind of accelerator program they are launching today (more on that here). In a quick call to discuss that program earlier this week, he also fielded a few questions from us about the current state of early-stage startup investing and how founders can best navigate it. 

    We asked him, for example, about how a glut of seed-stage investment has impacted the way that startups are raising money — often in pre-seed, then seed, then post-seed rounds, before raising Series A funding. We wondered if, nomenclature aside, he felt things had changed fundamentally. 

    As it turns out, he does not. “While the structure and characters involved are very different than 10 years ago, the steps you need to go through are no different,” said Rachleff. “The whole point is to understand what an investor at the next round expects. You have to determine whether or not you’re ready [for that next meeting], and try to achieve product-market fit as fast as possible before you get to it.” Indeed, Rachleff suggested that he thinks it unwise for founders to raise seed rounds serially. “When companies raise seed funding, [that money] is to prove the dogs want to eat the dog food. If they can’t [prove that], and they have to ask for more seed funding,” the startup becomes “less compelling” to later investors. 

    We asked him about some of the biggest mistakes that founders make, and he said that many of these center on who founders approach for funding, how they pace the rate at which they approach investors, and how, exactly, they pitch their startups. On that last point, said Rachleff, “People think data is a way to compel people, but it’s the story that compels people, and that has never changed, whether you’re talking about political campaigns or business presentations.” 

    More here.
    New Fundings
    AuditBoard, a four-year-old, L.A.-based maker of risk and compliance software for large businesses, has raised $40 million in Series B funding led by Battery Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

    AxiaMed, a five-year-old, Santa Barbara, Ca.-based healthcare payments tech company, has raised $12.4 million led by Health Enterprise PartnersMore here

    BabelBark, a 2.5-year-old, Newton, Ma.-based online platform that connects pets with pet care businesses (from veterinarians to groomers to boarding kennels), has raised $2.8 million in additional Series A funding that pushes its original Series A round to $4.5 million altogether. The company has yet to disclose any of its investors. More here

    Backbone PLM, a four-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based, cloud-based, collaborative platform that enables brands to streamline the product development process, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Signal Peak Ventures, with participation from Grotech VenturesSpider CapitalNovel TMT Ventures, Beanstalk VenturesBrainchild Holdings and Peterson VenturesMore here.

    BioBeats, a six-year-old, London-based company that sells a well-being course and app, has raised £2.4 million (roughly $3 million) from Oxford Sciences InnovationWhite Cloud and IQ CapitalMore here

    Blueberry Therapeutics, a seven-year-old, Cheshire, England-based drug discovery and development company that’s developing nanomedicines for difficult-to-treat skin and nail infections, has raised £10 million ($12.7 million) in Series B funding, including from China Medical Venture Investment, a wholly owned subsidiary of China Medical System Holdings, and A&B CompanyMore here

    Bugworks Research, a 4.5-year-old, Bengaluru, India-based antibiotics developer, has raised $9 million in Series A funding led by UTEC Japan, with participation from Acquipharma Holdings and 3ONE4 CapitalMore here

    Concourse Global, a year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based educational tech company, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Colle Capital, with participation from A-Star Education and Third Kind VCMore here

    Karma, a 2.5-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based startup that offers a marketplace to let local restaurants and grocery offer unsold food at a discount, has raised $12 million in Series A funding. Swedish investment firm Kinnevik led the round, with participation from Bessemer Venture Partners, appliance manufacturer Electrolux, and previous backer VC firm e.ventures. It brings total funding to $18 million. TechCrunch has more here

    MoneyLion, a five-year-old, New York-based online consumer lending and savings app aimed at the middle class, has raised $29 million in Series B-1 funding, according to an SEC filing that shows a $40 million target and was first flagged by Axios. Last year the company raised a $42 million Series B round led by Edison PartnersMore here

    Progressa, a five-year-old, Vancouver, Canada-based fintech company that says it’s leveraging big data to improve lending outcomes for sub-prime consumers, has raised $84 million in Series B funding co-led by Gravitas Securities and Canaccord GenuityMore here

    Raw Fury, a three-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based indie game maker, has raised $5.5 million in Series A funding from Nordisk Film Games, a subdivision of the Danish film and entertainment company. VentureBeat has more here

    RevJet, a four-year-old, San Carlos, Ca.-based marketing platform, has raised $21 million in Series A funding led by Nautic PartnersMore here

    Twistlock, a three-year-old, Portland, Ore.-based startup focused on securing cloud-native environments, has raised $33 million in Series C funding led byICONIQ Capital, with participation from YL VenturesTenElevenRally VenturesPolaris Partners and Dell Technologies Capital. TechCrunch has more here

    Ubiquity6, a year-old, San Francisco-based AR platform capable of creating a massively shared augmented reality experience that persists through time, has raised $27 million in Series B funding led by Benchmark and Index Ventures. More here

    Vogo, a two-year-old, Bengaluru, India-based scooter-sharing start-up, has raised roughly $7 million in Series A funding led by ANI Technologies and Hero MotoCorp chairman Pawan Munjal, according to LiveMint. Matrix Partners IndiaStellaris Venture and angel investors also participated in the funding round. More here.
    New Funds
    Foundation Capital, the 23-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based venture firm, is raising $350 million for its ninth flagship fund, shows an SEC filing. Foundation had closed its eighth fund with $325 million in late 2015. More here

    Matrix Partners, the 41-year-old venture firm headquartered in San Francisco, has raised $300 million for a third India-focused venture-capital fund, according to a new SEC filing. Matrix had launched its first India fund in Mumbai in 2006. More here.
    Coinbase wants to be the “Facebook Connect for crypto,” notes TechCrunch, explaining why the company has just acquired Distributed Systems, a startup founded last year that was building identity standard for decentralized apps called the Clear Protocol. Much more here

    City National Bank has acquired Exactuals, a seven-year-old, L.A.-based maker of SaaS software that enables complex payments in the entertainment industry (it manages residuals and royalties, for example). City National had joined a $10 million round of funding for the company last year. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. More here.
    Bitmain Technologies, the world’s biggest producer of cryptocurrency mining chips, is planning a Hong Kong IPO that could raise as much as $3 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said. The Beijing-based company, whose 32-year-old co-founder Jihan Wu is one of the most powerful players in crypto, plans to file a listing application with the Hong Kong stock exchange as early as September, according to Bloomberg. More here
    Nigel Eccles created the fantasy sports site FanDuel back in 2009, and when it was acquired by European gambling company Paddy Power Betfair earlier this year, FanDuel was valued at $465 million. Eccles didn’t see a dime, though, and now he’s suing

    Twitter last night temporarily restricted the account of InfoWars’s Alex Jones in a move that limits the account’s functionality without suspending it

    WhatsApp cofounder Jan Koum said he was leaving Facebook in April, but he has reportedly been making periodic appearances in the office to secure his stock rewards

    Some members of Tesla‘s board of directors are reportedly hiring lawyers to protect themselves from being sued over CEO Elon Musk’s tweets about taking the company private.
    Uber has been spending between $125 million and $200 million a quarter on its self-driving car unit over the past 18 months, says The Information, saying that that’s equivalent to between 15 percent and 30 percent of the company’s quarterly losses. Uber has invested at least $2 billion in the unit over the past three years, some of the company’s (seemingly frustrated) investors tell the outlet. More here.
    Essential Reads
    Apple could launch augmented reality glasses in 2020, and its own Apple car in 2023, predicts a securities analyst with strong track record

    Amazon reportedly wants to turn its Twitch online hangout for avid gamers into a broader video service à la Youtube. 

    Tencent, Asia’s most valuable tech firm, just delivered a surprise drop in profit on account of lower investment gains, breaking a growth streak that stretches back more than a decade. More on what’s happening here.
    For much of this century’s first two decades, there has been at least one Rihanna song on the pop charts. 

    What it takes to hold your breath for 24 minutes.
    Retail Therapy
    Pelican Elite Cooler. It’s “certified bear proof.” (Take that, Coleman.)
  • StrictlyVC: August 14, 2018

    Tuesday! We’re keeping things on the (slightly) shorter side today as we’re very under the weather — the product, no doubt, of spending time last week in a variety of germ-infested venues, including one giant amusement park.

    Below, you can see us having the bejeebers scared out of us at said park, along with one of our summer interns. (As for why it looks like we’re riding a roller coaster on the back of a stallion, we don’t have a great answer for this.)
    Top News
    Scooter startups Bird and Lime temporarily deactivated their scooters in Santa Monica, Ca., today in protest of the city’s move to limit the number of companies that can operate dockless vehicles there. On Friday, the city’s planning director revealed that ride-hailing companies Lyft and Uber—which don’t yet operate scooters anywhere—had submitted the top-ranked applications for a pilot program that will allow up to four companies to operate e-bike and e-scooters in Santa Monica. 

    Elon Musk’s announcement last night about his advisers might be as “squishy as his funding,” reports Bloomberg. From a newly published report: “Goldman Sachs Group hadn’t been formally tapped as a financial adviser by Tesla’s chief executive officer when Musk revealed plans last week to take the automaker private and said he’d secured the funding for the transaction . . . The bank still hadn’t officially signed on when Musk said on Twitter late Monday that he’s working with Goldman Sachs and private-equity firm Silver Lake as financial advisers,” according to its sources. More here.
    Sponsored By . . .
    Want to learn why top VCs and business leaders leverage Affinity? Using patent-pending technology, Affinity helps teams manage and grow their networks byunlocking introductions to decision makers and auto-populating pipelines to increase deal flow. In industries where success is contingent upon maintaining high-touch relationships, Affinity allows you to get deeper insights into your network and finallyeliminate manual data entry.
    New Fundings
    Axoni, a three-year-old, New York-based developer of blockchain technology for capital markets, has raised $32 million in Series B funding. Goldman Sachs and Nyca Partners co-led the round, with additional participation from Andreessen HorowitzCitiCoatue ManagementDigital Currency GroupF-Prime CapitalFranklin TempletonJ.P. MorganNEX GroupWells Fargo and Y Combinator. Forbes has more here.

    Carbyne, a 4.5-year-old, Israel- and New York-based  next-gen emergency response system, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Elsted Capital Partners, with participation from Founders Fund. TechCrunch has more here

    Exabeam, a five-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based security intelligence platform, has raised $50 million in Series D funding from return backers Lightspeed Venture Partners, which led the round, Aspect VenturesCisco InvestmentsIcon VenturesNorwest Venture Partners and Shlomo Kramer. VentureBeat has more here.

    MeQuilibrium, an eight-year-old, Boston-based HR platform focused around personalized training programs, has raised $7 million in Series C funding led by HLM Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers Chrysalis Ventures and Safeguard ScientificsMore here.

    Profusa, a nine-year-old, South San Francisco, Ca.-based developer of oxygen-monitoring biosensors, has raised $45 million in Series C funding. Investors include VMS Investment GroupTasly Pharma Group and Maxim Integrated Ventures and earlier backers 3E Bioventures Capital and Atinum InvestmentMore here

    Oscar Health, the six-year-old, New York-based health insurance startup that was cofounded by Josh Kushner (brother to Jared), has raised $375 million in fresh funding from Alphabet, in a deal that pushes its total capital raised to more than $1 billion. No valuation is being disclosed this time around. The company’s last-reported valuation was $3.2 billion. TechCrunch has more here

    Owl Cameras, a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based provider of car dash cams (to record crashes, stops, and break-ins, among other things), has raised $10 million in Series A1 funding led by Canvas Ventures, with participation from existing backers. The company — whose cofounder and CEO formerly worked on the iPod and iPhone at Apple — has now raised $28 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

    Sansoro Health, a four-year-old, Minneapolis, Mn.-based startup that’s promising a more seamless data exchange between electronic health records and administrative and clinical applications, has raised $8 million in Series B funding led by LRVHealth, with participation from existing investors Bain Capital Ventures and Healthy Ventures. Sansoro has now raised a total of $14.5 million. More here

    Skupos, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based analytics platform for convenience stores, has raised $6.4 million in Series A funding led by Toba Capital, with participation from Dynamo Fund and Loup VenturesMore here

    Visor, a 1.5-year-old. San Francisco-based gaming insights startup, has raised $4.7 million in Series A funding led by Accel, with participation from previous investors Y CombinatorAfore Capital and NextGen Venture Partners, as well as numerous angel investors. More here
    New Funds
    Amino Capital, a six-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based venture firm that funds data-driven startups, has so far raised $20.5 million for its third fund, according to an SEC filing that shows a target of $100 million. The firm had closed its second fund with $50 million two years ago. More here

    GGV Capital, the 18-year-old, cross-border investment firm that specializes in U.S. and China-based startups, is raising $1.88 billion across numerous new funds, including its seventh flagship fund. Crunchbase News has more here.

    Openspace Ventures, a four-year-old, Singapore-based, early-stage venture firm that first made a name for itself by writing an early check to the Indonesia ride-hailing unicorn Go-Jek, has raised $135 million for its second fund. TechCrunch has more here.
    BuildingConnected, a six-year-old, Bay Area-based preconstruction platform for real estate owners and general contractors to hire qualified subcontractors, has acquired TradeTapp, a three-year-old, New York-based subcontractor risk analysis platform that had raised a small amount of seed funding, per Crunchbase. BuildingConnected is backed by $53 million in funding, including from Brookfield VenturesLightspeed Venture PartnersHomebrew, and Bee Partners, among others. More here

    Bustle, the venture-backed online publisher aimed at millennial women, has acquired Flavorpill Media, an online publisher and experiential brand focused on events. Terms aren’t being disclosed, but Bustle will acquire all current Flavorpill Media staff, and cofounder Sascha Lewis will become Bustle Digital Group’s vice president of experiential and president of Flavorpill Media. Axios has the scoop here

    A week after spinning out its driver services business and giving it $1 billion in investment capital, Didi Chuxing has added to it through an acquisition. Xiaoju Automobile Solutions, which the Didi spinout is called, announced today it has bought Hiservice, a three-year-old company that provides after-service care for car owners using a digital platform. TechCrunch has the story here.
    A Tesla rival, the four-year-old, China-based electric car company Nio, has filed to raise $1.8 billion in an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. The four-year-old company was widely expected to file soon. It has so far developed two cars – the EP9 supercar and ES8 – and is backed by TencentBaidu, and Sequoia Capital, among others. TechCrunch has more here.
    Matt Olsen, the former general counsel of the National Security Agency and director of the National Counterterrorism Center, was just named Uber’s new chief security officer

    A group of Tinder founders and executives has filed a lawsuit against parent company Match Group and its controlling shareholder IAC of angels.  

    Robert Townsend, current co-chair of the global M&A practice group at law firm Morrison & Foerster, is joining the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank as its chief legal officer and SVP.
    Essential Reads
    The staying power of megarounds.

    What Saudi Arabia’s interest in Tesla says about its long-term oil plans.
    The 100 jokes that shaped modern comedy. 

    An unopened stack of Pokémon cards from 1999 just sold for $56,000

    Ben Carson realizes this would be a great time to ask for a raise.
    Retail Therapy
    A shoe deodorizer, by Panasonic.
  • StrictlyVC: August 13, 2018

    Hello, happy Monday!

    We’re back from our quick break and already insanely busy, so no column today, *but* a quick programming note about our September 25th event in San Francisco before we jump into things. In addition to interviews with James Monsees and Adam Bowen,the founders who designed the Juul vaporizer that’s taking over the world; and founder David Rogier of MasterClass, which has fast become the Netflix of e-learning, we’re thrilled to announce that SoftBank managing director Jeff Housenbold and investment director Anna Lo are also now coming, to answer our many, many (many) questions about the $100 billion Vision Fund that’s being furiously invested right now. (Both help steer the Japanese conglomerate’s growing Bay Area-based investments.)

    We can’t wait to sit down with them. We only have about 10 seats left, fyi. If you can’t/don’t make it, never fear as we’ll have tons of coverage from the event afterward.

    Thanks again to our partners in the evening: Norwest Venture Partners, the multi-billion dollar, multi-stage venture firm; MobSquad, which helps U.S.-based companies win the war for engineering talent by creating remote teams of high-caliber software engineers in Canada; and KCPR, the boutique public relations and strategy firm founded by Silicon Valley publicist Kelsey Cullen. We rely on our outfits like these that raise their hand to help and so greatly appreciate their support(!).
    Top News
    Elon Musk is finally offering more details on his bombshell tweet that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private, saying in a tweet today that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund had been urging him since the beginning of 2017 to take Tesla private. The move is unlikely to get the SEC off his back, notes Bloomberg.
    Sponsored By . . .
    Two MIT grads walk into a VC firm (no, not a bar) and the result is a venture-backed wine company that is fueled by — you guessed it — data science. Take Bright Cellars’ wine-matching quiz to see your top wine matches and get 50 percent off your first month.
    New Fundings
    Airspace Technologies, a three-year-old, Carlsbad, Ca.-based delivery and supply chain services startup that’s partnering with outside contract drivers to fuel its growth, has raised $8 million in Series A funding. Defy Ventures led the round, with participation from Qualcomm VenturesPrologis VenturesCross Culture Ventures, and Schematic VenturesMore here

    Artios Pharma, a two-year-old, Cambridge, England-based DNA damage response company that’s developing treatments for cancer, has raised $84 million in Series B funding co-led by Andera Partners and LSP, with participation from Pfizer VenturesNovartis Venture FundArix BioscienceSV Health InvestorsM VenturesIP Group and AbbVie Ventures. European Biotechnology has more here

    Audius, a seven-month-old, San Francisco-based startup that’s developing a decentralized, community-owned and artist-controlled music-sharing protocol, has raised $5.5 million in Series A funding co-led by General Catalyst and Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from Kleiner PerkinsPantera Capital, 122West and Ascolta Ventures. Entrepreneur has more here

    Appcues, a five-year-old, Boston-based software company that enables its customers to create in-product experiences like user onboarding and feature announcements without writing any code, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Sierra VenturesMore here

    Carepoynt, a three-year-old, Newport Beach, Ca.-based digital health startup focused around a rewards program, has raised $2 million in seed funding. Investors weren’t named, though the company had earlier raised seed funding from Tech Coast Angels and HBS Alumni Angels, among others. More here

    Edmit, an 11-month-old, Boston-based company whose data-driven advising software aims to help families make smarter college choices, has raised $2.3 million in seed funding from Founder CollectiveRethink EducationPrecursor Ventures and others. BostInno has more here

    FunNow, a 2.5-year-old, Taipei, Taiwan-based startup catering to locals who want to find new things to do in their cities, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by the Alibaba Entrepreneur Fund, with participation from CDIB, a returning investor; Darwin Ventures; and Accuvest. TechCrunch has more here

    Lyvly, a three-year-old, London-based community platform that helps landlords and renters find and manage shared living accommodations, has raised $4.6 million in Series A funding from Mosaic Ventures. UKTN has more here.

    Mines, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based fintech startup that has built a credit platform for emerging markets, just raised $13 million in Series A funding led byTPG Growth, with participation from 10 other firms, including Velocity Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

    MyDreamPlus, a four-year-old, Beijing, China-based startup that helps people find and book co-working spaces, has raised $120 million in Series C funding. Hillhouse Capital and General Atlantic co-led the round, and were joined by JOY Capital, Ocean LinkM31 Management Fund, and K2VCMore here

    Observe.AI, a year-old, U.S.and India-based startup whose first product is an AI that assists call center workers by automating a range of tasks, from auto-completing forms for customers to guiding them on next steps, has raised $8 million from investors. Nexus Venture Partners led the round, with participation from MGVLiquid 2 VenturesHack VC and earlier backers Emergent Ventures and Y Combinator. TechCrunch has more here.

    Orchard Therapeutics, a three-year-old, London-based company that’s developing gene therapies, has raised $150 million in Series C funding led by Deerfield Management, with participation from 15 other investment firms. Xconomy has more here

    SenSat, a three-year-old, London-based startup that turns complex visual and spatial data into a real time simulated reality for companies that operate in physical domains, has raised $4.2 million in seed funding, including from Force Over Mass,Round Hill Venture Partners and ZagmMore here

    Tot Biopharm, an eight-year-old, China-based maker of anti-tumor drugs, has raised $102 million in Series B funding. Investors include China UniversalCenter Laboratories GroupVivo CapitalChengwei CapitalYuanta Financial Holdings Group and Cathay Capital. DealStreetAsia has more here

    Wonga, the troubled 11-year-old, London-based payday lender, has reportedly raised £10 million in funding from earlier backers Accel Partners and Balderton Capital in an “emergency” deal that values the company at just £23 million and was designed to keep it from insolvency. Sky News has more here.
    Sponsored By . . .
    Three out of five VCs trust Affinity to manage their team’s collective network. Using patent-pending technology, Affinity helps teams manage and grow their networks by unlocking introductions to decision makers and auto-populating pipelines to increase deal flow. In industries where success is contingent upon maintaining high-touch relationships, Affinity allows you to get deeper insights into your network and finally eliminate manual data entry. 
    New Funds
    Venture firm Andreessen Horowitz is reportedly launching a new fund targeted at black celebrities, athletes and media figures. Basketball star Kevin Durant, actor Will Smith and Essence magazine publisher Richelieu Dennis are among the initial limited partners in the venture-capital fund, according to the WSJ; its sources say the fund will total roughly $15 million. More here

    Benhamou Global Ventures, an early-stage venture firm, last week announced the close of a $40 million opportunity fund that invests “exclusively in the digital transformation of the enterprise with a cross-border innovation theme.” More here

    OS Fund, a Venice, Ca.-based venture capital fund that invests in “breakthrough discoveries in science to address our most pressing global problems” is looking to raise up to $250 million for its second fund. That’s more than double the size of its $100 million debut fund, from which the team made 28 investments (27 of which received follow-on funding, they say). More here

    Ten Eleven Ventures, a four-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based venture capital firm solely focused on digital security, has raised a new, $140 million fund. More here

    TZero, Overstock.com’s blockchain subsidiary, has raised $134 million in an initial coin offering (ICO) that began last December and was designed to comply with SEC requirements. It was also announced today that GSR Capital, a Chinese private equity firm, is leading a $270 million investment in tZero. Part of a larger deal, the investment also includes $104 million in Overstock.com stock and $30 million worth of tZero tokens. Forbes has more here.
    Facebook, which is on a mission to make video interactive, has acqui-hired Vidpresso, a six-year-old, Utah-based startup that works with TV broadcasters and content publishers to make their online videos more interactive, with on-screen social media polling, comments, graphics and live broadcasting. According to TechCrunch, Facebook is buying its seven-person team and its technology but not the company itself. More here

    As consumer appetite for digital entertainment in China grows, two companies are combining forces: China Literature — a Tencent e-publishing venture that went public with a $1 billion IPO last November — is acquiring the Chinese digital production company New Classics Media for around $2.3 billion. TechCrunch hasmore here.
    Billionaire investor Mark Cuban says he owns just a handful of stocks and tons of cash because he’s worried about the market. “I’m down to maybe four dividend-owning stocks, two shorts, and Amazon and Netflix,” he told CNBC earlier today. More here

    Bessemer Venture Partners is promoting Anna Khan to vice president. Khan joined Bessemer in 2012 after founding Launch X, an accelerator that she oversaw for more than three years. She authors BVP’s State of the Cloud annual report with Bessemer partners Byron Deeter and Kristina Shen.  

    David Marcus, the former head of Facebook’s Messenger team who now leads a blockchain-focused group within the social media giant, announced Friday that he would step down from his seat on the board of cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase. Facebook says the move was made to “avoid the appearance of conflict” between Marcus’ two roles, reports Fortune. More here

    Kate McAndrew has been promoted to principal at Bolt, the San Francisco- and Boston-based venture firm that invests in pre-seed companies that feature both hardware and software elements. McAndrew joined Bolt in late 2014. Previously, she was program director at The Iron Yard Ventures, a startup accelerator. 

    Elon Musk is being accused of tweeting while on acid. (Musk strongly denies the allegation, though it’s certainly a tempting explanation.)

    Anarghya Vardhana, who joined Maveron three years ago, has been promoted to partner at the firm. More here.  

    Netflix CFO David Wells is stepping down. Wells, who plans to focus on philanthropy, says he will stay on the job until he can help choose a successor. More here.
    Essential Reads
    Google is tracking your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to

    YouTube is paying some of its biggest stars to promote some of its new features. 

    Even in Washington, Jeff Bezos may the most powerful person in the room, as an obscure, $10 billion Pentagon contract suggests.
    The jokes comedians would steal if they could get away with it

    Shockingly drawn-out celebrity divorces.
    Retail Therapy
    Just flip an effing coin already.
  • StrictlyVC: August 3, 2018

    Friday. Looks like we made it

    Hope you have a most wonderful weekend, everyone, and week. We’ll see you Monday, August 13th, when we’re back from a quick vacation from our computer screen.:)
    Top News
    Peloton, a six-year-old, New York-based company that makes a $2,000 stationary bicycle and charges its sticky customer base $39 a month to stream live classes (it’s also launching a treadmill soon), has raised $500 million in fresh funding in a deal that values the company at $4 billion. TCV, a new investor, poured $150 million into the round, with TCV’s founding general partner Jay Hoag taking a board seat. The company says the round is likely its last before an IPO. The WSJ has more here.
    Sponsored By . . .
    Oracle just launched a Startup Growth Program in the U.S., a dedicated initiative to enable startups to scale with Oracle enterprise customers. If you are interested in the equity-free program, you can attend the final Ask Me Anything Webinar today, and apply here by next Tuesday, August 7th. 
    Foundry Group Has Quietly Raised a Big Fat Fund
    Foundry Group, the Boulder, Co.-based venture firm cofounded 11 years ago by startup whisperer Brad Feld, has raised a $750 million seventh fund to target early-stage and growth-stage companies, as well as to invest in other venture funds. 

    It sounds like — and is — a lot of money, though the firm notes that it encompasses all of its various investment strategies, whereas its last fund, a $500 million vehicle that it closed in 2016, was used to invest in other venture funds and growth-stage companies alone; Foundry was separately managing its early-stage bets in a different fund. 

    Foundry was founded by Feld, Ryan McIntyre, Jason Mendelson, and Seth Levine — “four equal partners,” as Feld describes them. With this newest fund, he says, Foundry now has “seven equal partners.” 

    More here.
    New Fundings
    Calcivis, a six-year-old, Edinburgh, Scotland-based medical device company focused on tooth decay, has raised $4.1 million in funding,  including from Archangel Investors, Julz and the Scottish Investment Bank. More here

    CureFit, a two-year-old, Bengaluru, India-headquartered health and fitness company that operates offline workout centers; a subscription-based food delivery business, a meditation app, and(!) a telemedicine platform, has raised $120 million in Series C funding. The company’s investors  include IDG VenturesAccel Partners and Kalaari Capital, as well as Chiratae Ventures and Oaktree Capital. The Economic Times has more here

    Karuna Pharmaceuticals, a nine-year-old, Boston-based startup that’s funding a Phase II clinical trial for a schizophrenia drug, KarXT, that derives from an investigational therapy made by Eli Lilly & Co,, has closed on $42 million in Series A funding. Participants include ARCH Venture PartnersPureTech Health, the Wellcome Trust, Third Rock Ventures partner Steven Paul and others. MedCity News has more here

    League, a four-year-old, Toronto, Canada-based company that provides a digital employee health benefits platform, has raised C$62 million (about $47.5 million) in new funding led by TELUS Ventures. Other participants in the round include Wittington Ventures and earlier backers OMERSRBC VenturesReal VenturesInfinite Potential Group and BDC IT Venture Fund. MedCity News has more here

    Stampli, a four-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based interactive invoice management platform for mid-size and large enterprises, has raised $6.7 million in Series A financing led by SignalFire, with participation from Bloomberg BetaHillsven Capital, and UpWest Labs. TechCrunch has more here

    Worklete, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based digital health platform designed to prevent musculoskeletal injuries within labor-intensive workforces, has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding. Trinity Ventures led the round, with participation from Launch CapitalRiver Park VenturesAspect VenturesKapor Capital, and individual investors Dave Yarnold and Gokul RajaramMore here

    Xpeng Motors, a four-year-old, Guangzhou, China-based electric car startup, has raised 4 billion yuan ($587 million) in new funding that values the company at $3.6 billion. Primavera Capital Group led the round, and was joined by investors including Morningside Venture Capital and Xiaopeng He. Reuters has more here.
    (Other) New Funds
    Flipkart co-founder and former chief executive Sachin Bansal is considering raising a fund of $700 million to upwards of $1 billion for investing in startups, reports LiveMint. Bansal, who is set to make $1 billion in cash after leaving Flipkart in May, could contribute up to 40 percent of the fund, according to the outlet’s sources. More here

    New York has a new venture fund in The Fund, a new, seed-stage vehicle that’s being funded solely by New York founders — 75 of whom have already pitched in a collective $3.2 million. The vehicle is headed up by four founders: Matthew Brimer, who cofounded the early co-working company General Assembly; Adam Carver of Battlestar Capital and AngelList; Katie Hunt of Warby Parker; and Jenny Fielding of Switch-Mobile. Forbes has more here.
    Ride-share giant Didi Chuxing and Alibaba’s Ant Financial are in talks with Ofo, the China-based bike-sharing startup, for a joint buyout offer that could value Ofo at up to $2 billion, says Reuters. That’s slightly less than the company has raised over six rounds of funding. Also worth noting: Alibaba is already a major shareholder in the company. Rival Mobike was snapped up a few months ago in a $2.7 billion deal by Meituan-Dianping, the Chinese group buying website with links to Tencent, a backer of Mobike. More here.
    Jeff Bezos, style icon

    Tesla shares surged yesterday after Elon Musk apologized to Wall Street analysts over his behavior on the company’s previous conference call in May, when he told one analyst that “boring, bonehead questions are not cool.” (Musk had been asked about Tesla’s capital requirements at the time.)
    Salesforce Ventures is looking to hire a senior associate. The job is in San Francisco.
    Essential Reads
    How Google arrives at its names in maps is often mysterious, but, no question, it has people pissed off

    Why Snap’s first “shareholder meeting” disappeared almost as soon as it began. 

    Starbucks and Microsoft are teaming up with one of the world’s biggest exchange operators, Intercontinental Exchange, which just created a venture called Bakktdesigned to more tightly integrate digital currencies into global commerce. Muchmore here.
    A math theory for why people hallucinate

    The case for puns

    Lance Armstrong and Ashley Olsen?! What is even going on.
    Retail Therapy
    Workplace essentials to cow your coworkers
  • StrictlyVC: August 2, 2018

    Hello! Happy Thursday.:)
    Top News
    Cisco says it’s paying $2.35 billion in cash and equity awards for eight-year-old, Ann Arbor, Mi-based Duo Security, a company that sells cloud-based tools to prevent security breaches on devices. Duo, which employs 700 people, had raised $121 million from investors, including GVTrue Ventures, and Redpoint. TechCrunch has more on what happens next here

    It happened. Apple jus won the race to $1 trillion in market capitalization (though it has since slipped back into hundreds-of-billions-of-dollars territory).
    Sponsored By . . .
    Fight climate change, and make money at the same time? Introducing Wunder Capital, the award-winning investment platform that allows individuals to invest in solar energy projects across the U.S. With Wunder, you can earn up to 7.5% annually while helping to finance renewable energy projects. Learn more here.
    HR Startup Namely, Once a High Flier, Gets $60 Million and a New CEO
    Namely, a 400-person, six-and-a-half-year-old company, has mostly had the kind of trajectory that other startups envy. Mostly. 

    The startup’s mobile-first platform — which sells payroll, talent management, and other HR services to mid-size businesses across the U.S. via subscription software — has for years been seen as among New York’s most promising businesses. Investors like True Ventures  and Lerer Hippeau (not to mention a very long list of angel investors) poured into the company’s early rounds and sang its praises. Last year, Forbes included the company on its list of 100 top cloud startups. 

    The abrupt firing of the company’s cofounder and CEO, Matt Straz, back in May, cast a bit of a cloud over the company. Straz, who’d built the company from the ground up, was let go following an investigation into actions “inconsistent with that which is expected of Namely leadership,” the company told employees at the time. 

    In a series of calls with investors yesterday, none would elaborate on Straz’s alleged behavior, preferring to reiterate the company’s earlier talking points. (We weren’t able yesterday to reach Straz, who has deleted his LinkedIn account and seemingly abandoned Facebook for now.) 

    Still, credit is due for moving Namely forward more quickly than at other HR startups that — coincidentally and strangely — have also parted ways with their founding CEOs over HR issues. (Think Zenefits and Betterworks.) 

    More here.
    New Fundings
    Altru, a year-old, New York-based company that powers shareable web pages for companies that highlight videos of employees answering questions that potential hires might ask, has raised $1.3 million in seed funding. Birchmere Ventures led the round. TechCrunch has more here

    DreamBox Learning, a 12-year-old, Bellevue, Wa.-based education software company, has raised $130 million in funding from TPG‘s Rise Fund – – more than triple the amount that the company had raised previously. The Seattle Times has more here

    Grab, the six-year-old, Singapore-based ride-hailing service that struck a deal to take Uber out of Southeast Asia, has pulled in $2 billion in new capital, a figure that includes a $1 billion investment from Toyota that was announced in June, as well as includes a host of other investors. Among them: OppenheimerFundsPing An CapitalMirae Asset — Naver Asia Growth FundCinda Sino-Rock Investment Management CompanyAll-Stars InvestmentVulcan Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Macquarie Capital. TechCrunch has more here

    HYAS, a three-year-old, Victoria, British Columbia-based startup that sells its cybersecurity tools to infosec and cybersecurity professionals to help them detect and defend their data, just raised $6.2 million in Series A funding led by M12, Microsoft’s venture fund. Other participants in the round include Startup Capital Ventures205 Capital, the investment firm Wesley Clover and several high-profile cybersecurity professionals. More here

    InVia Robotics, a three-year-old, Westlake Village, Ca.-based startup that provides fulfillment centers with automated robotics tech, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Point72 Ventures, with participation from Upfront Ventures and Embark Ventures. VentureBeat has more here

    MDLive, a nine-year-old, Sunrise, Fl.-based telemedicine company, has raised $50 million in growth funding from CignaHealth Care Service Corporation andHealth Velocity CapitalNovo Holdings A/S and Industry Ventures also participated. MedCity News has more here

    Peel Away Labs, a five-year-old, New York-based developer of multi-layered peel away disposable bed sheets (you remove a layer to discover a “fresh soft layer underneath”), has raised $1.3 million in funding from investors that include New York Venture Partners and Alpine Meridian VenturesMore here

    Quantexa, a two-year-old, London-based company whose AI software helps financial services firms spot money laundering, fraud, and terrorist funding, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Dawn Capital, with participation from HSBC and Albion Capital. The Financial Times has more here

    RideOS, a year-old, San Francisco-based transportation marketplace and mapping tech company, has raised $25 million in Series B funding round led by Next47, the venture arm of Siemens, with participation from Singapore-based ST Ventures and earlier backer Sequoia Capital. The company has now raised $34 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

    Shedul, a three-year-old, London-based online booking platform for salons and spas, has raised $5 million in funding led by Berlin’s Target Global, with participation from FJ Labs and numerous individual investors. TechCrunch has more here

    Test.ai, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of software development “test bots” to speed mobile app testing for developers, has raised $11 million in Series A funding led by Gradient Ventures, Google‘s AI-focused venture fund. Other participants in the round include e.venturesUncork Capital and Zetta Venture PartnersMore here

    WeeCare, a 1.5-year-old, L.A.-based company that’s selling its curriculum to caregivers looking to manage their own daycare centers, has raised $4.2 million in seed funding led by Social Capital, with participation from Fuel VenturesMore here.
    Sponsored By . . .
    Oracle just launched a Startup Growth Program in the U.S., a dedicated initiative to enable startups to scale with Oracle enterprise customers. If you are interested in the equity-free program, you can attend the final Ask Me Anything Webinar on Friday, August 3rd and apply here by August 7th. (Psst, that’s coming up fast.)
    New Funds
    Thrive Capital, the nine-year-old, New York-based venture capital firm co-run byJoshua Kushner, may raise up to $1 billion for an upcoming fund, says the WSJ, which had reported on a similar tip back in April. Thrive closed its fifth flagship vehicle with $700 million in 2016. More here.
    Siemens, the giant German technology company, has acquired Mendix, the popular low-code application development platform, for roughly $700 million. Mendix, which was founded in the Netherlands but now has its headquarters in Boston, will continue to operate independently, but Siemens will use its technology to accelerate its own cloud, IoT and digital enterprise ambitions. Mendix had raised about $38 million from investors, including Battery VenturesPrime Venturesand HENQ Invest. TechCrunch has more here.
    Sonos, the Santa Barbara, Ca.-based maker of smart speaker systems, raised $208 million in its IPO, pricing 13.9 million shares at $15 (below its original range of $17 to $19). The shares are trading at $18.49 as of this writing. Among the company’s biggest shareholders are KKR (which owned  25.7 percent of the company, going into the offering), Index Ventures (which owned 13 percent) and Redpoint Ventures (which owned roughly 5 percent). Accredited investors have been buying and selling the company’s shares on the secondary market for the past several years. EquityZen, one of the platforms they used, has some analysis on the company here.
    Alex Stamos, Facebook’s  chief security officer since 2015, said yesterday that he is leaving the company to take a position at Stanford University. Rumors surfaced back in March that Stamos was likely to leave the company. More here.
    Bitcoin’s use in commerce keeps falling, even as volatility eases.
    Essential Reads
    Warn your pre-teens. Musical.ly, the short video app that’s popular among teens and young people, is going away. Kinda. The app and all user data and accounts is being merged with Tiktok, a sister app that’s owned by ByteDance, the Chinese company that acquired Musical.ly for around $1 billion last year. TechCrunch has more here

    Growing up Jobs — Lisa Jobs. “I have a secret.” (In Vanity Fair.)
    The history behind eight famous tongue twisters

    Tony Shalhoub on “Fresh Air.”
    Retail Therapy
    A 350-square-foot apartment priced at $750,000(!).
  • StrictlyVC: August 1, 2018

    August! Holy smokes.

    Quick mention/reminder: we’re on a workation at the moment (a truly terrible idea — do not do this).

    Meanwhile, next week, we’re taking an actual vacation, meaning we’re shutting down SVC for five days. We’ll miss you, but it has to happen. We’ll resume our normal publishing schedule on Monday, August 16th.:)
    Top News
    A whistleblower has revealed Google’s plans for censored search in China.
    Sponsored By . . .
    Home Chef offers 50 percent more fresh meals than the largest meal kit brand. Bring more delicious meals and moments to the table. Use code STRICTLY35, and claim $35 in free meals
    Felicis Ventures Has a New, $270 Million Fund, and a New Managing Director: Victoria Treyger
    Felicis Ventures, the early-stage, San Francisco-based venture firmed founded a dozen or so years ago by former Googler Aydin Senkut, has closed its sixth fund with $270 million. 

    It’s Felicis’s biggest vehicle to date (the firm closed its last fund with $200 million in 2016). Yet even bigger news for the team may be its new managing director, Victoria Treyger, who spent the last six-plus years as the chief revenue office of the online lending company Kabbage and before that, spent a couple of years as the chief marketing officer of RingCentral, the cloud phone system company. 

    It’s easy to understand the attraction on both sides. Treyger gives the firm greater strength when it comes to marketing and fintech know-how. According to Senkut, Treyger is also acutely interested in health-related opportunities, which, not coincidentally, is a growing area of interest for the firm. 

    Indeed, he argues, Treyger was being courted aggressively from operating companies wanting to tap her experience as a C-level executive at two separate but fast-growing companies. 

    That Treyger decided to pursue venture capital surely speaks to an interest in the industry broadly. But Felicis seems like a particularly good fit for her, too. For one thing, Treyger “basically has an equal spot at the table,” according to Senkut. This isn’t always the case with a new hire into a venture firm, even at the most senior level. 

    Treyger also joins a now four-person leadership team — including Senkut, Sundeep Peechu, and Wesley Chan — that has, in the parlance of the startup world, been crushing it. 

    Already in 2018, the firm has seen three major exits, including when Adyen, the Amsterdam-based payments platform, went public in June (it currently boasts a $16.3 billion market cap); when Pluralsight, the corporate learning platform, went public on the Nasdaq in May (it’s currently valued at just north of $3 billion); and when Ring, the video doorbell maker, was acquired in March by Amazon for $1 billion. Felicis can — and does — further brag that has enjoyed a $1 billion(ish) exit in each of the last seven years. 

    More here.
    New Fundings
    Apeel Sciences, a six-year-old, Santa Barbara, Ca.-based developer of food-based coatings to extend produce freshness, has raised $70 million in Series C funding led by the hedge fund Viking Global Investors, with participation from earlier backers Andreessen HorowitzUpfront Ventures and S2G Ventures. Bloomberg has more here

    Bulletproof 360, a four-year-old, Bellevue, Wa.-based food, beverage and content company, just raised more than $40 million in funding led by CAVU Venture Partners, with participation from Trinity Ventures and Silicon Valley BankMore here

    Clare, a months-old, New York-based direct-to-consumer paint brand, has raised $2 million in seed funding. Investors include First Round CapitalImaginary VenturesBrooklyn Bridge VenturesBullishAble Partners and the founders of both Casper and Harry’s. Fast Company has more here.  

    Crowdstreet, a five-year-old, Portland, Ore.-based commercial property investment marketplace, has raised $8 million in Series B funding led by Grotech Ventures, with participation from Rally VenturesSeven Peaks Ventures andGreen Visor Capital. Calcalist has more here

    Evidation Health, a six-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based developer of digital biomarkers, has raised $30 million in Series C funding. SV Health Investors and earlier investor B Capital Group co-led the round; they were joined by GE Ventures and Sanofi VenturesMore here.  

    Fetch, a two-year-old, Dallas, Tex.-based startup that provides outsourced package receiving and last-mile logistics for apartment buildings, raised $3 million in seed funding led by Silverton Partners, with participation from Capital FactoryVenn Ventures, and multifamily real estate owners and managers. More here

    FloodFlash, a year-old, London-based startup that sells flood insurance, has raised £1.9 million ($2.5 million) in seed funding, including from LocalGlobePentech Ventures and InsurTech GatewayMore here

    Formlabs, a seven-year-old, Somerville, Ma.-based 3D printing startup, has raised $15 million in fresh funding that puts its total raised to date at $100 million and pushes its post-money valuation past $1 billion, says TechCrunch. New Enterprise Associates led the newest round. More here

    Naked Labs, the three-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based startup that makes body-scanning mirrors that build 3D models of users, then alerts them where progress is (and isn’t) being made, has raised $14 million in Series A funding led by Founders Fund, with participation from NEALumia CapitalVenture 51, and Seabed VC, among others. TechCrunch has more here

    NED Biosystems, a 10-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based clinical-stage biotech company that’s developing an oral cancer combination treatment, has raised more than $2 million in Series B funding, including from former investment banker Benjamin Griswold IVMore here

    Pico Interactive, a three-year-old, Beijing, China-based VR hardware startup at work on a standalone headset, has raised $24.7 million in Series A funding led by GF Qianhe and GF Xinde Investment, with participation from Jufeng S&T Venture Investment and others. TechCrunch has more here

    Radar Relay, a 1.5-year-old, Denver, Co.-based wallet-to-wallet decentralized trading platform, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Blockchain Capital, with participation from Tusk VenturesDistributed GlobalReciprocal Ventures, and Collaborative Fund, among others. More on what the company is working on here

    ReViral, a U.K-based developer of a treatment for respiratory syncytial virus infections, has raised €47 million ($54.9 million) in Series B funding. New Leaf Venture Partners and Novo Ventures co-led the round, with participation from earlier backers Andera PartnersOrbiMed and Brace Pharma Capital. FierceBiotech has more here

    Verana Health, a 10-year-old, San Francisco-based  platform that’s setting out to help the life sciences industry enhance clinical studies with analytics and data, has raised $30 million in a Series C funding. GV led the round, with participation from Biomatics CapitalGE VenturesLagunita Biosciences, and Brook Byers. VentureBeat has more here

    Xiangwushuo, a 1.5-year-old, Shanghai, China-based mobile app for swapping used goods, has raised $50 million in new funding led by Sequoia Capital. Other backers include Hillhouse CapitalIDG CapitalGGV CapitalMatrix Partners and ZhenFund. China Money Network has more here

    Yellowbrick Data, a four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based data warehouse startup, has raised $44 million in Series A funding from DFJGVMenlo Ventures,Samsung Ventures and Third Point VenturesMore here.
    Sponsored By . . .
    Oracle just launched a Startup Growth Program in the U.S., a dedicated initiative to enable startups to scale with Oracle enterprise customers. If you are interested in the equity-free program, you can attend the final Ask Me Anything Webinar on Friday, August 3rd and apply here by August 7th.
    New Funds
    Carlyle Group  just closed its biggest fund yet, raising $18.5 billion as money pours into the private equity industry. More here

    Golden Gate Ventures, a seven-year-old, Singapore-based firm founded by three Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, is about to close a new, $100 million fund for Southeast Asia, reports TechCrunch. More here.
    DocuSign, the publicly traded e-signature company, is buying SpringCM, a Chicago-based cloud document generation and contract management company, for $220 million in cash. SpringCM had raised $135 million in funding, including from Crestline InvestorsFoundation CapitalNorth Bridge Venture Partners, Square 1 BankBluestem Capital Company and Panorama Point Partners. GeekWire has more here

    Rubicon Global, an Atlanta-based waste management startup, has acquired RiverRoad Waste Solutions, a New Jersey-based waste and recycling company, according to Fortune. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, but Fortune calls the move surprising as Rubicon has long marketed itself as the “Uber for trash,” and being a waste brokerage is a descriptor that the company has reportedly resisted. More here

    According to Axios, publicly traded Splunk, which specializes in machine log analysis, has acquired KryptonCloud, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based operations and maintenance systems platform that had raised $2.7 million in seed funding from Costanoa VCTrue VenturesFuel Capital and Stanford University Venture Fund. Terms haven’t been disclosed (yet). 

    Internet communications company Vonage Holdings said earlier today that it has acquired TokBox, an 11-year-old, San Francisco-based provider of programmable video services, for $35 million in cash. TokBox had raised approximately $26 million in venture funding, including from Sequoia CapitalSV AngelBain Capital Ventures, and DAG Ventures. ZDNet has more here.
    Intel is actively trying to replace Brian Krzanich, the company’s former CEO who abruptly resigned in late June after it was learned that he’d had a consensual relationship with a subordinate. Two new names the company is reportedly considering: Anand Chandrasekher, a former Intel and Qualcomm executive, and Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm’s current president. The Information has more here

    Martin Tripp, the former Tesla employee who was fired and then sued by the electric vehicle automaker, has filed a lawsuit, alleging statements made by CEO Elon Musk in recent weeks (many in tweet form) defamed him. TechCrunch hasmore here.
    How America uses its land

    France just banned smartphones in schools during all hours of the day for students under age 15.
    Essential Reads
    Silicon Valley‘s online lending startups just received a key go-ahead from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which yesterday invited fintech companies to apply for special national charters. While many will probably prefer to partner with established banks (for now), critics already see the move as certain to fuel more predatory lending

    Tesla, under fire from investors for burning through cash as it ramps up production, is reportedly looking to China to at least partially fund the cost of building its first factory in the world’s fastest-growing auto market, near Shanghai. 

    Facebook and Instagram now show how many minutes you use them, ostensibly to encourage you to use them less.
    A real-life speedboat heist to rival any movie. 

    Ready, aim, hire a “Fortnite” coach for your kids

    Two sets of 24-year-old identical twins had their first date together, became engaged at the same time, and are now preparing to tie the knot this weekend.
    Retail Therapy
    Flip flops made of “sweetfoam.” You can eat them if you get lost on your walkabout.

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