• StrictlyVC: September 19, 2013

     rainbowTop News in the A.M.

    Apple CEO Tim Cook: Sorry for any confusion, people, but “we never had an objective to sell a low-cost phone.”

    Dropcam, the $50M Startup That Should Keep ADT Awake at Night 

    Dropcam is watching you.

    To date, the four-year-old startup has raised $47.8 million for its HD wireless home-monitoring cameras that allow consumers to watch the kids from the office, glimpse which neighbor isn’t picking up after his dog, or catch break-ins.

    Greg Duffy, Dropcam’s 26-year-old cofounder and CEO, won’t disclose how many of the company’s $150 cameras the company has sold, but he will say that the company is enjoying “5x” year-over-year revenue growth from a “significant sample of users” that “cut across nearly every demographic.”

    That’s a lot of video. The company claims that it uploads more video each day than YouTube.

    What Dropcam plans to do with all that video is where things get interesting. At Dropcam’s San Francisco offices, where 45 people are now employed, Duffy hints that Dropcam will soon dip its toe into the lucrative realm of home security.

    It makes perfect sense. It also puts the company’s funding into perspective.

    Right now, 40 percent of Dropcam’s customers pay $9.99 or $99 per year to save up to seven days of footage costs, partly for home security purposes.

    Duffy believes Dropcam can capture a much larger piece of the home security pie because, in his view, it’s a market that’s just waiting to be disrupted  Not only are the “ADTs of the world” “generally stuck in past eras of technology,” but “they charge you insanely high prices for a very simple service,” he notes.

    ADT’s most basic plan — which includes a motion detector, two wireless door or window sensors, and a wireless key fob that enables users to control the system – costs $42.99 per month, a $300 installation fee and requires a three-year commitment. More “advanced” services — including stored video footage and email alerts — cost $57.99 a month, with a $500 installation fee and a three-year contract.

    That’s big business: ADT has a market cap of $8.7 billion dollars.

    Companies like ADT “make you think that to keep your family safe, you need to pay for something that’s essentially as expensive as a cell phone and requires [an even longer] contract,” Duffy says. “But it costs them nothing to deliver the service, and using today’s technology, you could deliver [the same service] for a fraction of the price.”

    Dropcam’s investors — Institutional Venture Partners, Accel Partners, and Kleiner Perkins, among others — evidently think so, too.

    SigmaWest Has Moved to SF!

    New Fundings

    Illumio, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based cloud security startup that remains largely in stealth mode, has closed a $34 million Series B round led by General Catalyst Partners, which was joined by Formation 8. Andreessen Horowitz, which led the companies $8 million Series A funding earlier this year, also participated, as did individual investors Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce.com, and Box CEO Aaron Levie.

    StrongLoop, a San Mateo, Calif.-base company, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Shasa Ventures and Ignition Partners, a round that brings its total funding to $9 million SrongLoop develops a backend-as-a-service (MBaaS) that uses Node.js as a platform for developing mobile apps in the cloud or in the data center. The company has named Issac Roth as CEO. Meanwhile, Jason Pressman of Shasta and Nick Sturiale of Ignition have joined the company’s board.

    Stackdriver, a Boston-based company, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Flybridge Capital Partners. Bain Capital Ventures, which provided the company with $5 million in Series A funding last year, also participated. Stackdriver enables its customers to better manage their cloud-powered applications, including by mapping relationships between the customers’ system, application, and infrastructure resources.

    Remind101, a San Francisco-based startup that aims to provide teachers with a safe way to text message students and stay in touch with their parents has raised $3.5 million. The Series A round was led by the Social + Capital Partnership, with famed Internet investor Yuri Milner participating. The money follows a $1 million seed round that came from First Round Capital and numerous individual investors last year.

    Syntertainment, a Berkeley, Calif.-based new gaming startup that reportedly focuses on “individual lives,” has raised a $5 million Series A round from investors that include Andreessen Horowitz and former Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello.

    Cargomatic, an L.A-based startup that appears to be the Uber of the trucking business — it promises to “provide on-demand, pre-screened trucks where and when” shippers need them — has raised $900,000 as part of an expected $1.75 million financing. Investors include the company’s founder and CEO, Jonathan Kessler, and Brett Parker, the chief operating officer of the transportation company Savon Freight.

    Crave, a San Francisco-based company that produces “discreet and elegant” sex toys, has raised $2.4 million in Series A funding, including the venture firm Chaotic Ventures and individual investors.

    Deliv, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based company focused on providing same-day delivery services, has raised $6.85 million in Series A funding from new investors Upfront Ventures and RPM Ventures. Previous investors in the company’s $1 million seed round, including Redpoint Ventures, Trinity Ventures, PivotNorth Capital, General Catalyst Partners and the Operator’s Fund, also participated.


    At least some limited partners are making big bucks on Groupon. According to AllthingsD, NEA, Groupon’s first institutional investor (it backed Groupon with $4.8 million in 2008) distributed 20 million shares of the company to investors on Friday. The shares are worth roughly $225 at their current trading price of $11.35.

    New Fund News

    Benu BioVentures, based in Natick, Mass., launched this week, after being spun out of Benu BioPharma, a management and consulting company that focuses on biotechs and medical device startups. The outfit’s cofounders, Dennis Goldberg and Fred Meyer, tell the Boston Business Journal that they intend to invest in human biopharmaceuticals, and their initial investments will be in the “mid-single-digit million” range.

    Job Listings

    Silicon Valley Bank is on the search for an associate to add to its corporate venture group to source and qualify potential new opportunities for the firm. Among the job’s requirements: knowledge of the VC ecosystem and at last one or two years of experience in finance or banking.

    Essential Reads

    Kleiner Perkins gets some bad news, as California’s highest court rejects its efforts to take former partner Ellen Pao’s case against it to arbitration.

    Time asks whether it’s time for Arthur Levinson to step down as the chairman of Apple’s board, given that Levinson — the chairman and former CEO of Genentech — is becoming CEO of a new, Google-backed health-focused venture called Calico. “There is something about this that feels uncomfortable,” says board expert Lucy Marcus of Levinson’s continuing ties to both companies.

    The Economist takes a quick look at why the ambitions of Western firms in emerging markets far exceed their efforts.

    New research suggests that established — versus temporary — teams can become too comfortable.


    The snark monsters of Silicon Valley.

    Retail Therapy

    Witness the world’s first, truly elegant water filter, when you’ve already spent a fortune on your home/office anyway.

    And hey, a sensor that attaches to your golf club and breaks down your speed, angle and acceleration. Maybe now, you can Nate Silver your way to a better back nine!


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