• Sequoia’s Alfred Lin on Why Uber’s Valuation is Twice That of Airbnb

    Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 3.40.12 PMToday, at the Post-Seed conference in San Francisco, Alfred Lin, the former COO and CFO of Zappos and now a Sequoia Capital partner, was asked a variety of on-stage questions about the current market.

    Among them was whether Lin thinks it’s a good time to start a fund. “Probably not,” he said. “Valuations are high. But it doesn’t matter if you’re [thinking] long term,” he said. “If you’re building something enduring, you’re going to face lots of ups and downs anyway and you might as well start today.” As he noted, “It only gets more competitive in this world” of investing.

    Lin was also asked about the changing landscape and talked about the slowdown he expects next year, prompted by rate changes that the Federal Reserve is expected to enact shortly. “With interest rates close to zero, you can’t make money in the bond market,” he said. “So the bond people now invest in stocks, and people who invest in stocks invest in private growth rounds . . . and VCs invest in seed deals.” That’ll all change when the Fed starts raising rates, which Lin anticipates it may do “maybe even once a quarter.” Once that happens, he said, “There will be less money chasing companies all the way down the spectrum.”

    Lin was also asked to take a look back and address some of Sequoia’s most impactful decisions in recent years. He was asked, for example, why Sequoia invested in the accommodations marketplace Airbnb but passed on the ride-sharing company Uber.

    More here.

  • TPG Growth’s Bill McGlashan: We’re No Stranger to Startups

    Bill McGlashanBill McGlashan would like you to know something. TPG Growth is no newcomer to startups. The 45-person group that McGlashan leads within 22-year-old TPG Capital hasn’t just been writing checks to startups since 1999, but it has incubated a number of companies, too (including, last year, the film studio STX Entertainment). “I think there’s been a lot of noise lately about PE getting into growth investments, which is a function of absolute check sizes getting so large . . .. but [investing in privately held companies] is part of what we do and have done for a very long time. This isn’t private equity now doing growth. This is what we’ve always done.”

    We talked Wednesday with McGlashan about how TPG Growth works, why the typically private firm is talking with the press suddenly, and how it plans to invest the giant, $3 billion fund it announced earlier this week. Our chat has been edited for length.

    How old is TPG Growth, how many funds has it raised, and how does it differentiate itself from the broader company?

    We raised a $500 million venture fund in 1999. It was one of the largest-ever first time funds and the team went happily off to do VC, which seemed like a good idea in 1999. In 2000, which is when the fund actually closed, things were obviously challenging from a macro perspective. So I came aboard in 2003 to rethink the strategy. With the second half of that fund, we took a different approach [that was more integrated with the rest of the firm], and we’ve maintained it through three subsequent growth funds.

    [Ed: Those are a $1.2 billion fund, which McGlashan says has “about a 25 percent” gross IRR and “19 percent net IRR”; a second, $2 billion fund that he says has a 60 percent gross IRR and net IRR of 40 percent, and the firm’s newest, $3 billion fund.]

    What’s your overarching approach? 

    We want to do investments where our $67 billion platform can be a uniquely compelling partner in delivering growth, and that can mean different things depending on the industry and stage of the business and the nature of the company . . . so we’re agnostic about sectors and geographies. The problem with consumer funds or geography-specific funds is that everything a hammer sees is a nail, and we couldn’t do what we do if we had hammer/nail syndrome.

    How many companies a year do you fund, and who works in your group? Can you describe the hierarchy for us?

    We [typically fund] 10 or 15 companies a year where we can [accelerate the business]… There are nine partners in the group and each [focuses on] a combination of sector and geography. We also have a range of senior advisors that can be deeply involved. Then we have principals, VPs, associates, [as well as access to a] whole, 90-person operating team [at TPG], whose head of human capital [Fred Paulenich] was [senior VP of HR] at Walmart and Levi Strauss [previously].

    So when we go into a company like [famed guitar maker] Fender [in which TPG Growth took a majority stake in early 2013], we’re fixing the core business, including improving the sales organization, but we’re also embarking on a digital strategy, thinking of e-learning and collaboration, and focusing on direct-to-consumer engagement. Even though it’s a $700 million revenue business, it doesn’t have leadership that could go on this journey alone, so we can plug in people who can accelerate that change, and we do the same with all our companies.

    Who makes the ultimate decisions on these investments?

    There about about 30 partners across TPG and 8 managing partners [and from that group] there’s an investment committee [that includes members of TPG Growth]. We don’t have several wizards who are pushing a red or green button. [Firm cofounders David] Bonderman and [James] Coulter and other senior partners are [involved in all the] decisions. It’s important because if you’re an entrepreneur and we’re investing $50 million, we want you to know the firm cares as much about your company as it does with a $1 billion investment.

    How long does it take for a yes or no?

    We don’t make bets, write a check and hope it all works out. We’re signing up for being held accountable as a partner who will deliver value, and that takes real time. There are [some deals] when we move quickly and get deals done in a month. Sometimes, we spend six months getting to know each other. Time isn’t usually the gating issue. We do real work. It can’t happen with a tummy rub.

    You have investments all over the map. Do you have any idea where in the world you’ll be committing this new capital?

    [Our first growth fund] was 60 percent developed world, 40 percent emerging market. Our last fund was more like 80/20. Rough justice, [our new fund will be] 70/30, but we’re careful not to settle on allocation targets. We’re truly global, with investments in Brazil, Indonesia, Africa, Turkey, China; we have a tower company in Myanmar that’s growing like a weed.

    Some of those places are obviously frothier than others. China, for example, seems dangerous from this distance.

    We’ve not invested in China in the last three years because we felt valuations were very challenging with all these R&D funds and local funds and angels and super angels. We just felt that valuations, married to the fundamental risks in that market, didn’t make sense. But we did just approve our first deal recently; we’ve found that there’s been a valuation reset in certain sectors.

    What about private company valuations here in the U.S.? Plenty of people have grown concerned about those, too, particularly given how few companies are going public.

    Overall, what entrepreneurs have been able to do is trade an IPO for private financing, and that offers real advantages to building these businesses. I don’t think that’s going away, by the way. I think that public-private confluence we’re seeing is probably here to stay.

    As for valuations, some of these are great companies, like [our portfolio companies] Airbnb, Uber, Domo, and SurveyMonkey, which we recently exited. There are others – you can imagine that we’ve seen them all – that we’ve passed on.

    You sold your stake in SurveyMonkey? Are you doing much secondary selling? Have you sold any of your shares in Uber or Airbnb?

    It’s a deal-by-deal, case-by-case basis. Honestly, with SurveyMonkey, it wasn’t a case of the company not doing well. It was their strategy to do a series of refinancings and there was tremendous interest because the company is so [fast-growing] and fundamentally profitable that they can generate strong, ongoing yield for new investors. We weren’t looking for a 25 percent annual return.

    We have not sold Airbnb or Uber. The fundamental growth in those businesses is incredible.

  • The Partovi Brothers Keep It In the Family

    Ali Partovi and his twin brother HadiNationally, the Partovi twins don’t have the same name recognition as another pair of high-powered twins who will soon be appearing in StrictlyVC. But in the Bay Area, the 41-year-olds’ involvement in a startup – as both operators and investors – is a powerful signal that a company is probably on to something big.

    Ali Partovi was on the founding team of the Internet ad company LinkExchange, acquired by Microsoft in 1998 for $265 million; Hadi Partovi was on the founding team of the speech recognition company TellMe Networks, also acquired by Microsoft, for $800 million in 2007. The brothers have also been early investors in Zappos, Facebook, Airbnb and Dropbox, among others, and they’ve cofounded two organizations together: iLike, a social music service that sold to MySpace for a reported $20 million in 2009, and Code.org, a two-year-old nonprofit that’s making computer science available in more schools. (This reporters’ sons have participated in its one-hour introduction to computer science, along with more than 75 million other people.)

    StrictlyVC recently talked with the twins to learn more about their relationship, what’s most interesting to them right now from an investing standpoint, and what they make of the broader market. Our chat has been edited for length.

    Hadi, you live in Seattle, while Ali lives in the Bay Area. How long have you lived in different cities, and how often do you see one another?

    HP: I’ve been up in Seattle since 2002, but we see each other every few months.

    You’ve been investing together for many years. How full-time is that pursuit? How involved are you in Code.org?

    HP: Code.org now has 40 employees; it’s pretty all-consuming. We’re still investing as angels, though as a side job, which is when we’ve been best at investing. Because we don’t have enough time, we reject almost everything. But being picky makes us more selective. Of the 30 to 40 investments we’ve made, only two or three have been failures, and we’ve had 13 or 14 exits.

    How many companies did you back in 2014?

    AP: We made only four new investments. Over the past five years, we’ve averaged only four new investments per year. If anything, I’d be happy with even fewer. Our annualized IRR as investors has been 44 percent, not including Dropbox, Airbnb, Indiegogo, and others [that haven’t exited yet].

    How does a startup win you over?

    HP: We like companies that are making a social impact – not a charity but companies that have a vision that the world should be different and better. Snapchat, for example, is a really high-value business, but it’s unclear that its mission is making the world a better place. We also like tech that’s disrupting the physical world.

    But the quality of the people involved is what’s most important. We’re probably the only investors out there who will run a tech team through a tech interview as if they wanted to get a job at Google or Facebook. After all, why would an investor give tons of money to someone who couldn’t possibly get a job at [one of those two companies?]

    Have you missed out on deals because of that hurdle?

    HP: Some, though if we miss them, it’s not a big deal. We can afford to be choosy. Also, I think entrepreneurs recognize that our investment means a lot and that they can tell other people, including other VCs, who know about our interview process.

    What size checks do you write and what do you expect for your money?

    HP: Check sizes range from $100,000 to $250,000 typically, and the size of the stake completely depends on whether something is earlier or late. I think the biggest check we’ve written was $2 million for [the still-private, cloud-based electronic medical records company] Practice Fusion, which we think is incredibly promising.

    Would you make an investment without your brother’s blessing?

    HP: Yes, though we’ve made better investments when it’s unanimous. Ali has a passion for food-related investments, but almost all the rest have been joint investments.

    You were both investors in the food tech company Hampton Creek, correct? Did you participate in its $90 million Series C round, announced last month? Ali, you even joined, then quickly left, the company as its chief strategy officer. Are you and Hadi still investors in the company or have you sold your stake to other investors?

    HP: We did not participate in Hampton Creek’s newest round.

    AP: We are still holding our shares in Hampton Creek. Hadi and I’ve actually co-invested equally on most of my food and agriculture investments, including the biggest ones: Hampton Creek, BrightFarms, and Farmland. This is an area I’m very passionate about. I see enormous opportunity to make agriculture not only better for the world but also more efficient. [But] it’s important to temper passion with skepticism, and this is why Hadi and I make a good team. One of us always plays devil’s advocate. I rarely invest in anything if I can’t convince my identical twin brother to do so, too, and vice versa.

    Have either of you ever failed miserably at something?

    HP: I’d consider our last startup [iLike] a flop. Getting acquired isn’t bad, but getting acquired by MySpace, which was clearly on its way out of the history books, is. iLike had a meteoric rise but also a meteoric fall. We made a bet on the earlier version of Facebook’s platform, which enabled us to quickly grow to 16 million users. Then Facebook changed the rules of platform. iLike was one of many companies that built a user base on Facebook, then realized that user base wasn’t going to last.

    AP: I agree. I [also] think there’s still a big opportunity in music discovery. While iTunes and Spotify have replaced the retail music store, nothing has emerged that truly replaces radio and MTV as a medium for discovering new music, learning about new releases and upcoming concerts, and creating a sense of community around shared music tastes.

    Where else do you see opportunity, heading into 2015?

    HP: We’re almost entirely consumer facing with a few exceptions. The one deep technology thing we’ve backed is Nervana [a San Diego-based company designing chips, hardware and software to speed a computer’s ability to learn over time]. There’s a whole lot that people don’t imagine that computers are capable of but that you’ll see in the next five years. It’s still in the R&D stage, but we think it’ll be a breakthrough architecture.

    There are also a lot of untapped ideas and spaces if you think about changing the physical world and the many things that could be done better with computing and technology. For example, we think 3D printing will come online in a real way in the next few years, moving more from printing collectibles into furniture and artificial limbs that are the exact size needed.

    People also talk a lot about self-driving cars, but we think you’ll see self-driving ships even sooner. A lot of time and money is spent putting big boxes on ships, including the people [required to staff them]. But unlike self-driving cars, which can seem scary – there are a lot of people on roads – the most dangerous thing about a ship is the people on board, who could drown. As long as you don’t puncture a ship, the worst thing that could happen is that it will stop.

    Photo by Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group


  • VC Patrick Gallagher on Where CrunchFund is Shopping Now

    192000v2-max-450x450By Semil Shah

    When college friends Patrick Gallagher and Michael Arrington came together in 2011 to start CrunchFund, Arrington — who’d founded the media property TechCrunch in 2005 — brought contacts, startup smarts, and a talent for drumming up attention to the table. Gallagher brought his own sizable network and institutional investing know-how, having been a partner with VantagePoint Ventures and, before that, an investor at Morgan Stanley Venture Partners.

    The mix appears to work. The pair have funded hundreds of companies to date, including Uber and Airbnb. They’re also investing a second fund that closed earlier this year, having reportedly closed on about $30 million, or roughly the amount of their debut fund.

    This week, I asked Gallagher about that second fund via email. We also talked about Arrington, who made Seattle his primary residence back in 2010, a year before he sold TechCrunch to AOL. Our conversation follows:

    When most people think of “CrunchFund,” they think of Mike Arrington. How often is Mike in the Valley these days, and how have you observed him change as he transitioned from a writer and blogger to a full-time investor?

    These days, Mike spends at least half his time in the Valley, where around 70 percent of our investments are.

    When we started CrunchFund, one of the things that really resonated with Mike was the ability to meet with and interact with entrepreneurs at the earliest stages of a company’s life. Those were the types of companies he initially wrote about when he started TechCrunch and what he enjoys the most. Mike has always had a good sense for consumer start-ups but when you’re writing about a company, the opportunity cost is primarily your time to write the article. When you make an investment, the opportunity cost is much higher in terms of dollars and time. The biggest change I’ve seen in Mike since he became a full-time investor is his investment evaluation process. He now spends significantly more time trying out products and getting to know the company founders before he’s ready to sponsor an investment.

    CrunchFund’s smaller bet in Uber’s [$37 million, December 2011] Series B round is now of epic status. Walk us through how that deal came together. Was the partnership divided about making such an investment as a seed firm?

    CrunchFund is primarily a seed and early stage fund, but we allocate up to 20 percent of our fund for later-stage investments in companies we think can still generate venture level returns, and these have included Uber, Airbnb, Square, Skybox Imaging, Bluefly, Redfin, and a few others.

    Mike had written about Uber when it had first launched and had been friends with the company’s CEO, Travis [Kalanick], since 2006. We were both loyal users of the service, and when we found out that the company was raising its Series B, we asked if we could invest a small amount, and they graciously gave us an allocation.

    Tell readers more about what you focus on as an investor, including the B2B side and infrastructure side. I think founders want to know more about CrunchFund’s appetite for startups.

    I started my career in the venture business in 1997 at Morgan Stanley Venture Partners. We were the venture arm of this massive financial services firm that spent over $1 billion on IT, so I’ve spent most of my career investing in enterprise-facing companies and I spend the majority of my time focused on them at CrunchFund. About 40 percent of our investments are enterprise-facing companies, including Digital Ocean, Mesosphere, Branding Brand, Abacus Labs, Feed.fm, Rocketrip, Layer and many others. I see a ton of innovation in the enterprise, from the infrastructure inside the datacenter to the software people are using to manage their businesses day to day.

    I’m also a big believer in companies that sell to [small and mid-size businesses]. I was on the board of Constant Contact through its IPO and have seen firsthand that you can build a large business selling to this segment.

    For enterprise infrastructure deals, which don’t feature as many “party” rounds as do consumer deals, how does a smaller fund like CrunchFund make a dent when all the big firms want to max their ownership?

    CrunchFund typically invests $100,000 to $250,000 as an initial investment, and we normally don’t lead deals, so it’s pretty easy for us to fit into most rounds. We’re additive to any investor syndicate, and we focus on providing specific help with media and PR positioning and
    and introductions for larger follow-on rounds of financing through our network. We also open up our networks for things like business development, recruiting, and customer introductions. For us, because our fund size is still relatively small, investments in this range are meaningful.

    Sign up for our morning missive, StrictlyVC, featuring all the venture-related news you need to start you day.

  • StrictlyVC: October 24, 2014

    Good Friday morning, readers! We hope you’re in for a terrific weekend. Also, if you missed StrictlyVC yesterday (a few of you told us it landed in your spam boxes), you can check it out here.


    Top News in the A.M.

    Airbnb is discussing a new round that could total more than $50 million and value the company at $13 billion, reports the WSJ, which says the company wouldn’t use the cash for itself but rather to allow investors to buy employee shares. The round hasn’t yet closed and the funding amount and valuation could still change, says the report.

    The last legal hope of television streaming service Aereo was dashed yesterday.

    Amazon‘s quarterly earnings report yesterday has Wall Street spooked. Bloomberg BusinessWeek has more here.


    Bill Gurley: Earlier Warnings are Making an Impact

    Venture capitalist Bill Gurley appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” show earlier this week to clarify some of the comments he’d made in mid-September to the Wall Street Journal – comments that Gurley thinks were misconstrued in follow-on reports that confused risk with valuations. “I was talking about risk and I didn’t say a word about valuations,” said Gurley. “I don’t see radically insane valuations.”

    Gurley went on to say that the pubic market is right now “more discerning” than the late-stage venture market, where investors are “cram[ming] almost unnecessary levels of capital into these private companies.” Gurley also told CNBC that he believes his earlier warning in the Journal is having a “positive” impact on the private market. Here’s Gurley, in his own words:

    “It’s a four or five-year trend . . . of late-stage companies raising rounds that are larger than historic IPO rounds, and because there’s no capital intensity – we’re not buying stores, we’re not building factories – when you take that amount of capital and try and put it to use, the only way to do that is to increase your burn rate.

    “The problem is this growth-at-all-costs mentality causes almost a subsidization of survival. It’s almost easier to execute unprofitably than profitably. So if I say, ‘Hey, go grow a company to $100 million,’ and one company is told they have to be profitable and the other is told they can lose $30 million, it’s much easier to do the latter. So I think we end up with more companies with higher revenue rates where their business models still may be open to question . . .

    “I think the public markets are being more discerning than the late-stage private markets in terms of trying to figure out whether a company has a potential long-term business model and has the ability to generate profitability over the long term.

    “[In fact,] I think having that conversation a couple of weeks ago has had two positive impacts. One, I’m starting to hear more and more people tell me at board meetings, ‘Hey, we’re talking about this; we’re thinking more about this. We’re going to be smarter going forward.’

    “Second, in the public markets, you’re seeing some discernment. In the same week, [you’ll see] two companies go public and two delay because of ‘market conditions.’”


    New Fundings

    51Talk, a three-year-old, Beijing-based online English language education service, has raised $55 million in Series C funding led by Sequoia Capitalsays China Money Network. Other participants included earlier investorsDCM and Shunwei Capital founded by Lei Jun, founder of the smartphone maker Xiaomi.

    Blockstream, a 10-month-old, Quebec-based company at work on a new way of transferring assets across multiple block chains (which work like digital spreadsheets shared by everyone in a decentralized network), has raised $15.8 million in funding, shows an SEC filing that was flagged by Coindesk. The filing names Reid Hoffman of Greylock Partners as a director. Talking with Coindesk, Blockstream’s CEO Austin Hill said the round is still open and that the company will provide more details once it’s complete.

    Charlie, a 2.5-year-old, Chicago-based mobile app that promises to arm users with important information about their contacts right when they need it (like before a big meeting), has raised $1.75 million in seed funding led by Lightbank, with participation from Confluence Capital Partners, Hyde Park Venture Partners and several individuals.

    DormChat, an Hoboken, N.J.-based geolocal communication service for college students, has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from ff Venture Capital.

    Ello, the year-old, Burlington, Vt.-based social network that promises to keep advertising off its site, has raised $5.5 million in funding from Foundry Group, Bullet Time Ventures and FreshTracks Capital. Betabeat has more here.

    ExecOnline, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based company that partners with schools to develop online executive education programs, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Osage Venture Partners, with Kaplan Ventures, Militello Capital, New Atlantic Ventures and others participating. The company has now raised $6.9 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

    Fountain, a year-old, San Francisco-based company whose on-demand question-and-answer app addresses gardening and home-improvement questions (for now), has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by Shasta Ventures, with participation from First Round Capital. TechCrunch has more on the company — cofounded by Mint founder Aaron Patzerhere.

    KouDai, a Beijing-based mobile e-commerce platform that recommends targeted products to users, has raised a whopping $350 million in Series C funding led by the Internet giant Tencent Holdings, according to China Money Network. Other investors in the round include Tiger Global Management and DST Global. The three investors also previously backed the now-public Chinese e-commerce platform JD.com. KouDai, which means “pockets” in Chinese, counts Chengwei Venture FundMatrix Partners, and Warburg Pincus among its earlier investors.

    Luxe Valet, a year-old, San Francisco-based on-demand valet service, has raised $5.5 million in seed funding from Google Ventures, Sherpa Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Upfront Ventures, Foundation Capital, BoxGroup, Slow Ventures, Data Collective, Eniac Ventures, Rothenberg Ventures and others. VentureBeat has much more here.

    Mogl, a four-year-old, San Diego-based loyalty rewards app, has raised $11 million in funding from Austin Ventures, Avalon VenturesCorrelation Ventures and Sigma West. The company has now raised at least $21.7 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

    Oneflare, a 2.5-year-old, Sydney, Australia-based local services marketplace, has raised $1 million AUD (about $876,000), bringing its total funding so far to $1.5 million AUD (about $1.3 million). Investors include Equity Venture Partners, Sydney Seed Fund and The Strategy Group. TechCrunch has more here.

    Phreesia, a nine-year-old, New York-based healthcare point-of-service platform, has raised $30 million in new funding led by LLR Partners, with participation from HLM Venture Partners and Ascension Ventures. The company has raised $72.7 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

    Portal Instruments, a new Cambridge, Ma.-based company that’s developing a computerized needle-free drug delivery system, has raised $11 million in Series A funding led by Sanofi, PBJ Capital, and a major, unnamed medical device company.

    Slack, the five-year-old, San Francisco-based enterprise collaboration platform, is reportedly raising a new round of funding at a valuation of between $800 million and $1 billion, just six months after raising nearly $43 million. (To date, the company has raised $60 million.) Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers are involved in the newest funding, says one report from TechCrunch. The company’s earlier investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Accel Partners, and The Social+Capital Partnership. More here.

    Soft Machines, an eight-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based semiconductor company, has raised $125 million in funding, including from two former senior Intel executives (Albert Yu and Richard Wirt); well-known chip entrepreneur and investor Gordon Campbell; Samsung VenturesAdvanced Micro Devices; and Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi investors backing chip manufacturer Globalfoundries. The WSJ has the story here.

    Spring.me, a 1.5-year-old, Sydney, Australia-based social network that was previously known as Formspring, has raised $5 million in debt and equity, including from Right Click Capital, Tank Stream VenturesNextec Strategic Capital, and Rubicon Project founder Craig Roah. TechCrunch has more on how and why the company is rebranding itself.

    TaskEasy, a three-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based company that provides on-demand exterior home services like leaf raking, said it has raised $7 million in Series A funding from Access Venture PartnersGrotech Ventures and KickStart Seed Fund. The company has raised $9.6 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

    Telcare, a six-year-old, Bethesda, Md.-based company that develops cellular-enabled glucose monitors and a cloud-based companion system, has raised $32.5 million in Series C funding led by Norwest Venture Partners, with Mosaic Health Solutions and earlier investors Sequoia Capital and Qualcomm participating. The company has now raised $63.5 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

    Vestorly, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based content marketing platform for financial services professionals, has raised more than $2 million in seed funding from AlphaPrime Ventures, Formation 8, and Gaspar Global Ventures.

    Zignal Labs, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based real-time media monitoring and analytics company, has raised $10.7 million in Series B funding from earlier investors, including Figtree Partners, Ross Investment Associates and company co-founder Jim Hornthal. The company has now raised $14.9 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.


    New Funds

    Founders Circle Capital, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based firm that buys back stock from founders, executives, employees and early backers, has raised $195 million across two funds, beating a target of $125 million, says the firm. More here.



    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is pledging at least $100 million to help fight the spread of Ebola, reports USA Today. The funding will go to the State Department to develop medevac containment units to evacuate health professionals from West Africa and to offer training, medical workers and equipment in Liberia, one of the nations hardest hit by the Ebola epidemic. (This video about the epidemic in Liberia should win an award. H/T: Matt Mireles.)

    Nicolas Debock has joined Balderton Capital as a principal. He’ll focus largely on fintech, consumer-to-consumer marketplaces and SaaS. Prior to joining Balderton, Debock worked at XAnge, a Paris-based venture firm. He has also worked as the head of startup-relationships at La Poste, the French postal service, and at the IT and management consultancy Logica.


    Job Listings

    Google is newly looking for a corporate development strategy manager.



    Total funding to on-demand mobile services startups has hit $1.46 billion in the last four quarters, says CB Insights, which says nearly 20 deals per quarter in 2014 have been money invested into “Uber for X” type companies. More here.

    A New York venture capital and funding report, by AlleyWatch.


    Essential Reads

    Facebook introduces its first product that allows you to ditch your real name.



    Inside the crazy, and big, business of pet body shaming.

    When introverts should avoid coffee.


    Retail Therapy

    Holy smokes.

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