Tech Weekly Newsletter: May 22, 2016

Last week, today

  • 5/11 – Forbes has a detailed account of the Israeli military unit 8200 – the best tech incubator/accelerator most haven’t heard of (Forbes)
  • 5/14 – Warren Buffett and Dan Gilbert (the Cavs owner and founder of Quicken Loans) are teaming up in a bid for Yahoo (Reuters) and they’re being advised by former Yahooers (Re/Code)
  • 5/15 – Amazon has long been rumored to be moving in this direction and this week they announced plans for private label brands for everything from food to diapers (WSJ). You may remember the Company launched diapers in 2014 only to withdraw them over quality concerns. Amazon has also been selling AmazonBasics line of electronic accessories for a while now
  • 5/16 – AT&T is acquiring Quickplay Media, a provider of internet video streaming services, which it will use to launch DirecTV OTT capabilities later in 2016. The business was bought for $100M by private equity firm, Madison Dearborn Partners in 2012 (Variety)
  • 5/16 – The WSJ has the play-by-play of Renaud Laplanche’s final days as the CEO of LendingClub, the company that he founded in 2006. The TLDR version is he was told he would have to quit or be fired (by Norwest investor and LendingClub board member Jeff Crowe) after the board lost trust in him. The board discovered that he was less-than-forthcoming about information around employees backdating loans and disclosing an investment that potentially created a conflict of interest (WSJ)
  • 5/16 – In the latest minor change it should have done 5 years ago, Twitter is now planning to not count pictures and links against the 140 character limit (Bloomberg)
  • 5/16 – Warren B(uffett) disclosed that Berkshire Hathaway invested $1.1B in Apple as he moves away (along with the Yahoo bid) from his “no tech investing” policy (Bloomberg)
  • 5/16 – All is not calm with Xfund. A complaint filed in court by Xfund co-founder Hugo Van Vuuren on 5/13 details a number of things including emails by Van Vuuren’s co-founder Patrick Chung that call him a “spiteful moron” and states that Van Vuuren is worth more “dead than alive once (they) have key-man insurance” (?!?!). Van Vuuren also accuses Chung of committing fraud (NYT)
  • 5/16 – Jason Spinell, former head of venture investing at Undercurrent, has joined Slack to help manage and invest the Slack fund (Term Sheet)
  • 5/16 – In a move that “could prove lucrative for (Facebook) and intensify its competition with Alphabet” (I quote because I don’t understand ad-tech or the implications of this move), Facebook said that it will help marketers sell and place video advertisements across third party websites with FB getting an unspecified cut of the revenue (WSJ)
  • 5/16 – MCX, a company built as a consortium of big retailers including Best Buy, Walmart, CVS and others, that was supposed to be retailer’s response to mobile payments/Apple Pay announces another product delay and a lay-off of around 30 people (Re/Code)
  • 5/16 – Amazon has open-sourced its product recommendation engine (called DSSTNE, which is pronounced ‘destiny’) (Wired)
  • 5/17 – Oracle had plans to build a phone, but ultimately scrapped it after concluding it had “very limited internal expertise to make smart decisions” (Fortune). They are also claiming that Google has gotten $42.4B in revenue from Android from 2008 to 2015 (Twitter), a number which Larry Page then denied (Business Insider). NYT did a nice write-up on the implications for the open source community (and how advocates for open source software are nervous about the potential of Oracle winning) (NYT)
  • 5/17 – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos promised more retail stores as well as additional services (although vague on details) for Amazon Prime members (WSJ)
  • 5/17 – Gap CEO said that you’d have to be delusional to be a retailer and not consider selling on Amazon.com (Bloomberg)
  • 5/17 – Jefferies is said to have poached five Credit Suisse technology investment bankers, including William Brady who previously ran Credit Suisse’s global technology investment banking practice in addition to four other senior bankers (Bloomberg)
  • 5/17 – Microsoft and SAP are getting a little chummier in the cloud with the two companies’ CEOs announcing that SAP’s HANA will be able to run on Microsoft’s Azure (sounds dirtier than it is) at SAP’s Sapphire Now conference in Orlando (TechCrunch)
  • 5/17 – Amazon expanded its restaurant delivery service to include more than 350 local restaurants in New York City (and also restaurants in Dallas?), which is free for Amazon Prime members (WSJ). GrubHub traded down close to 8% on the news (Seeking Alpha)
  • 5/17 – The Silicon Valley real estate market seems to be slowing down according to an article by Bloomberg (Bloomberg)
  • 5/17 – Uber has launched “Trip Tracker” that is a part of Uber’s Family Profiles, which will allow family members to track each other’s trips (TechCrunch)
  • 5/17 – Netsuite (aka that other cloud company founded out of Oracle with Larry Ellison as an investor) is overhauling its accounting system to better suit the digital and e-commerce age (Fortune)
  • 5/18 – 117 million LinkedIn emails and passwords from a 2012 hack were just posted online and are for sale (TechCrunch)
  • 5/18 – Rick Grinnell and Rudina Seseri, both formerly partners at Fairhaven, have launched a new firm called Glasswing Ventures to focus on AI and cybersecurity. They will also be joined by Sarah Fey, who has served as a CEO and angel investor in the Boston ecosystem (Bostinno)              
  • 5/18 – At its developer conference, Google I/O, Google announced:
    • Google Home, its response to Amazon Echo. NYT has the comparison between the two (NYT)
    • Daydream virtual reality headset (Re/Code)
    • Allo, a messaging app with Google Assistant built in and Duo a one-to-one video messaging app. These both has privacy advocates up in arms because the default setting are not encrypted (Fortune)
    • Plans to allow Android apps to run on Chromebooks (Re/Code)

Here’s a summary with reviews and analysis by Re/Code

  • 5/18 – This week in Theranos, the company has voided two years of results from its Edison blood-testing devices (WSJ)
  • 5/18 – Castlight Health spiked 23% on the news that it had struck a strategic deal with SAP (who seems to just love everyone these days) to allow Castlight to be sold along with the SAP SuccessFactors platform and that SAP has bought $18M worth of stock with an option to buy another ~$6M at a pre-defined price (Seeking Alpha)
  • 5/18 – Microsoft has reached an agreement to sell its phone assets (the Nokia brand) to a Foxconn subsidiary for $350M in the latest shift in strategy from the Ballmer era. The deal will transfer 4,500 employees over to Foxconn (The Verge)
  • 5/18 – Fitbit announced that they are acquiring Coin, the all-in-one credit card that was shared all over the web a few years ago, to move more into payments (The Verge)
  • 5/19 – Genstar Capital announces that it has acquired Accruent, a provider of facilities and real estate management, from TA and Vista Equity. The deal was rumored by Dan Primack to be for between $500-750M (Yahoo Finance)
  • 5/19 – Google has a big project in their never-ending battle vs. Apple with mobile app vs. mobile web (Fortune)
  • 5/19 – Uber has been testing out a self-driving car on the streets of Pittsburgh over the last few weeks (Trib Live)
  • 5/19 – Microsoft seems to be building a personal assistant bot for WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger according to a job posting (Business Insider)
  • 5/19 – E.ventures (formerly known as BV Capital) has raised a new $150M fund to invest in start-ups across Europe and the States (Venture Beat)
  • 5/19 – Glenn Beck (yes, the same one) wrote an interesting account on his meeting with Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. Spoiler alert – he doesn’t think any of this is a big deal (although he does get outraged about something that I don’t really understand) (Medium)
  • 5/19 – An LA Times writer posted a piece that included Theranos and Zenefits in a group of bad disrupters (LA Times) and Zenefits CEO David Sacks was not happy about the comparison and went on a rant on Twitter about it (Business Insider)
  • 5/19 – GM’s $1B acquisition of Cruise can now proceed after the lawsuit around the founding of the Company has been settled. Someone got paid (Fortune)
  • 5/19 – A study by Appboy*, reveals that fewer than 25% of people will return to an app after initially downloading it (Fortune)
  • 5/19 – Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin closed on a $140M fund for deals in Asia, called B Capital (TechCrunch)
  • 5/19 – Google CEO Sundar Pinchai confirms the reports of Area 120, the Company’s rumored corporate incubator (Forbes)
  • 5/20 – A regulatory filing by Salesforce revealed that the Company paid $32.8M for MetaMind and a combined $41.6M for two other start-ups (likely PredictionIO and Implisit Insights) (Business Insider)
  • 5/20 – Tesla, which burns money like it’s a local delivery marketplace, has raised an additional $1.5B to finance the production of the Model 3 (Business Insider)
  • 5/20 – Yahoo is expected to receive bids in the $2-3B range from potential acquirers including Verizon, Bain/Vista Equity (+ former Yahoo CEO Ross Levinsohn), Dan Gilbert/Warren Buffett (WSJ)
  • 5/20 – Avant (another online consumer lending start-up) announced that it is laying off 60 employees or 7% of its workforce (Chicago Business)
  • 5/20 – IBM quietly continued with layoffs this week with experts estimating that they may end up cutting 14,000 jobs (WSJ)
  • 5/20 – Twitter is reportedly teaming up with Betaworks (and committing at least $10M) for a fund of some sort (TechCrunch)
  • 5/20 – Palantir is planning to buy $225M of stock from employees at $7.40, a price above where some large investors are valuing the stock (Buzzfeed)
  • 5/21 – Nokia confirms it is laying off another 1,000 people in Finland (TechCrunch)
  • 5/21 – “Start-ups once showered with cash now have to work for it,” a write-up by NYT (NYT)
  • 5/22 – In the funny and definitely not high-brow news category goes a report from the New York Post that Lowercase Capital’s Chris Sacca was denied entrance to Hamilton after accidentally purchasing fraudulent tickets. Sacca reportedly was yelling “Do you know who I am?” and that he was a shark on Shark Tank (New York Post)

 
Earnings

  • 5/18 – Cisco shares traded up 3.2% on better-than-expected earnings with good growth from newer business units including security and conferencing (Bloomberg)
  • 5/18 – Salesforce beat on earnings (again) and trades up 5.3% in after-hours as it forecasted higher for the year (Seeking Alpha)
  • 5/19 – 8×8 jumped 7.2% following earnings. The Company now has a market cap over $1B (Yahoo)
  • 5/20 – Autodesk traded down slightly on earnings, falling 2.3% (The Street)

Financings

  • 5/16 – AtScale, a three-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based startup that aims to make business intelligence work easily on Hadoop, has raised $11 million in Series B funding led by Comcast Ventures
  • 5/16 – CircleCI, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based software platform that aims to help developers rapidly release code for web and mobile apps, has raised $18 million in Series B funding led by Scale Venture Partners
  • 5/16 – PebblePost, a two-year-old, New York-based programmatic direct mail platform, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Greycroft Partners and Tribeca Venture Partners
  • 5/16 – Renovo Financial, a five-year-old, Chicago, Il.-based private lender that assists real estate investors who acquire, renovate and manage residential properties, has raised $25 million from earlier investor Victory Park Capital
  • 5/16 – Zeality, a two-year-old, Pleasanton, Ca.-based startup that’s creating an ecosystem for creators and brands that want to create virtual reality content for end-users, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Rothenberg Ventures
  • 5/17 – Avanan, a two-year-old, New York City-based cloud security platform company, has raised $14.9 million in Series A funding led by Greenfield Cities Holdings
  • 5/17 – Bark & Co, a four-year-old, New York-based e-commerce startup focused around dog products, has raised a whopping $60 million in funding led by August Capital
  • 5/17 – BigPanda*, a four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based data science platform, has raised an additional $5 million in Series B financing, bringing its newest round to $21 million. Pelion Venture Partners is the newest investor of the group
  • 5/17 – Embroker, a year-old, San Francisco-based risk and insurance management platform that helps businesses select and purchase commercial insurance, has raised $12.2 million in Series A funding led by Canaan Partners
  • 5/17 – Hundredrooms, a two-year-old, Palma, Mallorca-based vacation rental search engine, has raised €4.1 million ($4.7 million) in Series A funding led by Seaya Ventures
  • 5/17 – Nift, a year-old, Boston-based invitation-only network for neighborhood businesses, has raised $3 million in funding co-led by Spark Capital and Accomplice
  • 5/17 – Q4, a nine-year-old, Toronto, Canada-based market intelligence and investor engagement platform (it manages investor websites and earnings webcasting, among other things), has raised $22 million in Series B funding from OpenText Enterprise Apps Fund, Information Venture Partners, HarbourVest Partners, Emerillon Capital, Kensington Capital Partners, Plaza Ventures and Accomplice
  • 5/17 – Teckst, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based service that enables two-way text messaging for customer service teams, has raised $2.5 million in new funding from Composite Capital, Gaingels, Kernel Capital and Zelkova Ventures
  • 5/17 – True Anthem, an 8.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that makes real-time analytics and social publishing software for the media industry, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from WorldQuant Ventures
  • 5/18 – Dedrone, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based multi-sensor system designed to detect when drones enter into a client’s airspace, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Menlo Ventures
  • 5/18 – RedPoint Global, a 10-year-old, Wellesley, Ma.-based company that develops marketing software for business-to-consumer companies, has raised $12 million in Series C funding from Grotech Ventures and WP Global Partners
  • 5/19 – BeMyEye, a five-year-old, London-based mobile crowdsourcing app that companies use to enlist people to carry out mobile tasks, like photographing in-store promotions, has raised €6.5 million ($7.3 million) in Series B funding from Nauta Capital, P101, and previous backer 360 Capital Partners
  • 5/19 – Chime, a San Francisco-based mobile bank account provider, has raised $9 million in new VC funding led by Aspect Ventures
  • 5/19 – Decisio Health, a three-year-old, Houston, Tex.-based startup that aims to help acute-care provider organizations improve their clinical processes, has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding led by Declatex, with participation from the University of Texas Horizon Fund
  • 5/19 – Dojo Madness, a two-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based e-sports startup whose mobile app offers tips to gamers to help them improve their gameplay, has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding led by March Capital Partners
  • 5/19 – DriveScale, a three-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based company at work on flexible, scale-out computing using standard servers and commodity storage, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Pelion Venture Partners
  • 5/19 – Personal Capital, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based digital wealth management firm founded by former PayPal CEO Bill Harris, has raised $50 million from IGM Financial
  • 5/19 – Shift Technology, a SaaS platform to help insurers detect claims fraud, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. Accel led the round, and was joined by return backers Elaia Partners and Iris Capital.
  • 5/19 – Showpad, a five-year-old, Belgium-based company that has built a platform designed to improve other businesses’ sales productivity, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by Insight Venture Partners
  • 5/19 – Tally Technologies, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based app that promises to help people maintain good credit scores while avoiding unnecessary fees, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Shasta Ventures
  • 5/19 – ThoughtSpot, a four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based company whose business intelligence technology uses a search interface similar to what you might find in a consumer Internet search engine, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by General Catalyst Partners
  • 5/19 – Tink, a four-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based mobile banking app, has raised $10 million in Series B funding co-led by the Swedish investment firm Creades and SEB Venture Capital
  • 5/20 – Bloomfire, an Austin, Texas-based platform for sharing information among employees, has raised $12.8 million in Series B funding from Austin Ventures
  • 5/20 – ConceptDrop, a three-year-old, Chicago, Il.-based startup that connects enterprises with freelancers for design and marketing projects, has raised $1.1 million in seed funding led by Network Ventures
  • 5/20 – Convene, a seven-year-old, New York-based workplace hospitality platform, has raised $20 million in fresh Series B funding, adding to an earlier close of $15.5 million. The round brings the Series B to more than $35 million altogether and the company’s total funding to $51.2 million. The newest capital comes from Brookfield Property Group and Arrowpoint Partners
  • 5/20 – Springbuk, a seven-year-old, Indianapolis, In.-based employer health analytics platform, has raised $3.75 million in Series A funding led by Lewis & Clark Ventures
  • 5/20 – Staq, a four-year-old, New York-based automated reporting and integrations platform for the digital advertising market, has raised $5 million in funding led by Pereg Ventures

Random, long reads
The day we discovered our parents were Russian spies (The Guardian) – There’s little I can write to do this justice. I would just read it. The short version is this is the story that people may remember from six years ago when the FBI raided the house of Russian spies that were undercover in the US, as told through two children who had no idea who their parents actually were. From the story:
 
Their real names were Andrei Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova. They were both born in the Soviet Union, had undergone training in the KGB and been dispatched abroad as part of a Soviet programme of deep-cover secret agents, known in Russia as the “illegals”. After a slow-burning career building up an ordinary North American background, the pair were now active agents for the SVR, the foreign spy agency of modern Russia and a successor to the KGB. They, along with eight other agents, had been betrayed by a Russian spy who had defected to the Americans.
 
Through their teenage years these kids thought that they were normal Canadian children living in the US, only to find out their parents were actually Soviet spies.  As you’d imagine, they’ve been struggling with the fallout since, trying to determine who they really are.
 
Bill Clinton’s Big Moment: His Health, His Battle Plan for Trump, and What He’ll Do if Hillary Wins (GQ) – Bill Clinton, one of the iconic (and controversial) politicians of the last few decades is now 70 years old and looking to potentially take on the unprecedented role of First Gentleman in the White House.  GQ does a deep dive investigating where he is at this point in his life and if Bill is still up for the challenge of being in the White House and willing to be the appropriate complement to his wife.
 
Unearthing the Secrets of New York’s Mass Graves (NYT) – Like so much in life, in death there is a massive differences between those that have money and those that do not.  Since 1869, Hart Island has served as a finally resting place for over one billion people that largely ended up there because they didn’t have the funds to be buried elsewhere. The New York Times does a profile on this humongous cemetery, the types of people that ended up there and how this one island ended up housing over one million bodies.
 
Make Yourself Great Again! (Politico) – Similar to all things Trump, his is almost too ridiculous to be true, but there is now a movement occurring where young men are crediting Donald Trump and his attitude with helping them overcome various addictions and confidence issues. This movement exists in the corners of the internet, but has manifested itself into suburban America in a very real and weird way.  Politico has the story detailing it.

*Battery portfolio company. For a list of all Battery portfolio companies, please click here.