Tech Weekly Newsletter: Week of April 17, 2016

Quick thoughts
A nauseating amount of conversation this week regarding Chatbots. My quick take is people are paying way too much attention to Chatbots and not nearly enough to Messenger generally as an e-commerce platform. The AI side of this is kind of obfuscating the more commerce point that Messenger is really marching towards a place where a new version of the web could exist on its platform. Chatbots are a (kind of) cool thing for the press to talk about, but are still really, really raw. I’d imagine Slack is watching closely on the enterprise side to see what works and what doesn’t,  

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Last week, today

  • 4/6 – Pinterest is in talks to acquihire URX, which has raised $15M from firms like Accel, SV Angel, Google Ventures and First Round Capital (Re/Code)
  • 4/8 – Auto supplier Bosch is the latest company to express desire in the HERE mapping consortium (Reuters)
  • 4/9 – Reports are that the Honest Company is likely considering a sale instead of an IPO because of “cool public markets,” but no mention of the fact that one of their products may have totally misrepresented itself and likely couldn’t take the scrutiny of an IPO (Jezebel – can’t believe this is the link I’m using)
  • 4/10 – UK’s Daily Mail is reportedly exploring a path to acquire Yahoo, which could potentially include a private equity component as well (WSJ)
  • 4/11 – SecureWorks prices IPO at $15.50 to $17.50 in what should be the first tech IPO of the year. The Company would be valued at $1.5B at the high end of the range (WSJ)
  • 4/11 – Octopus Ventures topped up its evergreen fund with an additional €100M. The firm plans to deploy €75M this year in early stage firms (TechCrunch)
  • 4/11 – Mixpanel, which has raised $77M in seed, Series A and B funding mostly from Andreessen Horowitz, is now focusing on more controlled spending and doing “more with less” after missing plan in 2015 and parting ways with Chief Revenue Officer Matt Cooley (formerly VP of WW Sales at New Relic) (WSJ)
  • 4/11 – Marc Benioff is freezing his salary after there were complaints at the level of compensation. Total comp for Benioff was down from $39.9M for the year ended January ’15 to  $33.4M for the year ended January ’16 (Business Insider)
  • 4/11 – Accel  just raised Accel London V, a $500M European fund, to focus on Series A and B investments in Europe and Israel (TechCrunch)
  • 4/11 – Former CFO of VMware is joining the board of Tanium (Fortune)
  • 4/12 – GGV Capital has raised $1.2B, including a $675M main fund, a $225M “Plus” fund to back promising companies as they mature, a $250M “Discovery” fund that will focus largely on seed opportunities in China and a $50M “Entrepreneurs” fund that is largely company founders that will invest pro rata across the funds (TechCrunch)
  • 4/12 – BuzzFeed brought in $170M in revenue in 2015, missing a plan of $250M. The Company halved its internal revenue forecasts from $500M to $250M as well according to the Financial Times. The Company disputed this point but declined to give specific numbers (FT)
  • 4/12 – Fresh off of the success of Fitbit (which I still don’t really understand), Brad Feld and Foundry Group are close to raising a $500M fund for venture and later stage opportunities (Fortune)
  • 4/12 – TPG is exploring the sale of insurance software company, Vertafore, which it hopes will be valued at over $2.5B (Reuters)
  • 4/12 – Domo is ready for an IPO according to CEO Josh James (Fortune)
  • 4/12 – Workday has hired Robynne Sisco as CFO, reporting to co-president Mark Peek. Sisco had been Chief Accounting Officer before this (ZDNet)
  • 4/12 – Brian Halligan (CEO) and Dharmesh Shah (CTO), the co-founders of Hubspot, have responded to the book published by Dan Lyons last week (LinkedIn Pulse)
  • 4/12 – Facebook officially announced its Messenger Platform that will allow businesses to build chatbots to automate conversations with users (CNBC)
  • 4/13 – Kent Goldman, formerly a partner at First Round, has reportedly raised a $44M for a new fund focused on seed investing (Term Sheet)
  • 4/13 – According to an 8-K filing, ServiceNow recorded $270M worth of litigation charges (?!) in Q1 related to settlements for patent infringement suits vs. rival HP Enterprise and BMC (Yahoo Finance)
  • 4/13 – Pillpack, which has raised $65M from firms like CRV, Menlo Ventures, Accel and others, has been kicked out of Express Scripts Pharmacy Network, which will cut out around a third of its customer (WSJ )
  • 4/13 – Regulators proposed banning Theranos founder, Elizabeth Holmes, for at least two years and revoking the Company’s license for testing in the state of California (WSJ)
  • 4/13 – Slack is soon to be releasing one of its most requested features, threaded messaging (The Verge) while the Information has a piece on how Uber, LinkedIn and Twitter have all tried to use the service and pulled back due to product and architecture issues (The Information)
  • 4/13 – Tony Fadell, CEO of Nest, kind of apologized for being a d1ck saying “Of course, we’re not perfect. No company is. Nest isn’t perfect. I’m not perfect. No one’s perfect. But we know what our problems are. We have been addressing them over the last two years. And, frankly, we have more room to go” (Re/Code)
  • 4/13 – The Google Compute Engine went down for 18 minutes at 10 PM ET on Monday, which is particularly embarrassing coming off of their Cloud Conference (Business Insider)
  • 4/13 – As soon as Facebook announced that they were opening up Messenger, Salesforce and Zendesk announce products to help brands manage the customer service aspect of the platform (TechCrunch)
  • 4/14 – Intel, under the leadership of President Murthy Renduchintala who was hired last year from Qualcomm, is undergoing a massive re-org of the company which has led to departures of some of the legacy leadership (Fortune)
  • 4/14 – Shuddle, described as an “Uber for kids,” which had raised $12.2M from mostly from RRE, abruptly shuts down (TechCrunch)
  • 4/14 – Before Cruise can officially sell itself to GM for $1B, there is an issue around one of the original co-founders of the business and his involvement with the Company (TechCrunch)
  • 4/14 – Oracle has plans to donate $200M over the next 18 months to help teach kids to code (Fortune)
  • 4/14 – COO of TaskRabbit, Stacy Brown-Philpot, is taking over as CEO for founder Leah Busque, becoming one of the few female African-American CEOs in the tech world (Re/Code
  • 4/14 – Digital Ocean has raised $130M in debt to compete with AWS, Microsoft and Azure (Fortune
  • 4/14 – Apple has reportedly constructed a secret team to explore changes to the App Store, including potentially charging to have your apps more highly displayed (akin to paid search for Google). There are close to 100 people working on the project (Bloomberg)
  • 4/14 – Fortune has aggregated analyst commentary around the F8 Conference and how Zuck’s message is being received (Fortune)
  • 4/14 – Microsoft is suing the Justice Department, around the issue of the legal requirement to provide emails to the federal government upon request, without notifying the businesses or people involved (Re/Code)
  • 4/14 – Amazon is reportedly eyeing up an acquisition of Everlane, Le Tote, Rent the Runway and other fashion-focused companies to get more of a brand presence in retail (TechCrunch)
  • 4/14 – An unidentified US company was defrauded out of $100M by individuals that were posing as legitimate vendors. $74M of it has been recovered and returned to the Company (Fortune)
  • 4/14 – Facebook is still working on Facebook at Work although its coming along more slowly than originally expected. Facebook said that it currently has 450 beta companies using the software, up from 100 in August (Re/Code
  • 4/15 – Bats Global’s IPO, which in a meta/Inception-type thing actually took place on its own exchange, trades well in its debut – spiking 21% for a valuation over $2B (WSJ
  • 4/15 – Verizon has a big worker strike problem with 40k employees striking and causing major impacts to the regular operating of the Company (Fortune)
  • 4/15 – I still find the markdowns of private companies interesting. T. Rowe marked down its stake in Dropbox again, now down 59% since its last round. MongoDB was also marked down and is down 57% since its last financing. Others specific markdowns include Cloudera (37%), Plex Systems (33%), Upwork (29%), MongoDB (23%), Lookout (16%), Flipkart (15%), Apptio (15%), Houzz (12%), Warby Parker (11%) and Doximity (11%) (The Information)
  • 4/15 – Yahoo continues to run a poor, half-hearted sale process with the NYT reporting that the Company has not been forthcoming with financial information that is critical to valuing it (NYT)
  • 4/15 – Mitel officially buys Polycom in a cash and stock deal valued at $1.96B. The combined company will be doing $2.5B in revenue (TechCrunch)
  • 4/16 – GoDaddy CTO is heading to Google (TechCrunch)


None to report this week


  • 4/11 – DocSend, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based document analytics startup, has raised $8 million in new funding from August Capital
  • 4/11 – Eloquii, a two-year-old, New York-based fast fashion apparel company focused on sizes 14 through 24, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Acton Capital Partners
  • 4/11 – Even, a 1.5-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based fintech startup focused on cash advances, has raised $9 million in funding led by Valar Ventures
  • 4/11 – Marxent Labs, a five-year-old, Dayton, Oh.-based company that wants to be a content management system and commerce platform for augmented reality and virtual reality applications, has raised $10 million in Series B funding co-led by Detroit Venture Partners and Stage 1 Ventures
  • 4/12 – Datera, a nearly three-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based storage company for enterprise and service provider clouds that was designed with DevOps-style operations in mind, has raised $40 million in funding from Khosla Ventures
  • 4/12 – Fleet, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based marketplace that lets companies compare quotes from logistics providers, has raised $4 million in seed funding led by Hunt Technology Ventures
  • 4/13 – Affirm, the four-year-old, San Francisco-based online lending company founded by PayPal cofounder Max Levchin, has raised a $100 million in Series D funding led by Founders Fund
  • 4/13 – EdCast, a nearly three-year-old, Mountain View, Ca-based social learning platform, has raised $16 million led by GE Asset Management
  • 4/13 – Impraise, a two-year-old, Los Altos, Ca.-based startup whose software aims to replace the annual performance review with actionable, real-time feedback from colleagues, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding led by the Amsterdam-based venture capital firm HenQ
  • 4/13 – NodeSource, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based startup whose tools and software target the needs of running server-side JavaScript at scale, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by RRE Ventures
  • 4/13 – Poshmark, a five-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based site for buying and selling women’s fashion, has raised $25 million in new funding led byGGV Capital
  • 4/14 – ContainerShip, a 16-month-old, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based service that aims to make it easier for developers to use Docker containers to develop and deploy their applications, has raised a $2.41 million in seed funding led by Pittsburgh-based Draper Triangle Ventures and Birchmere Ventures
  • 4/14 – KONUX, a 1.5-year-old, Munich, Germany-based industrial IoT company, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding from New Enterprise Associates
  • 4/14 – Onfido, a four-year-old, London-based platform that conducts background checks for on-demand startups and other businesses like online marketplaces, has raised $25 million in Series B funding led byIdinvest Partners
  • 4/14 – OnShift, a nine-year-old, Cleveland-based company that makes cloud-based staff scheduling software primarily for long-term care and senior living facilities, has raised $18 million in Series D funding led byHealth Velocity Capital
  • 4/14 – Quartet, a two-year-old, New York-based tech company that helps doctors analyze patients’ records to learn if someone’s physiological symptoms are likely to be associated with a mental health condition, has raised $40 million in Series B funding led by GV
  • 4/14 – Yup, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based mobile app that provides on-demand tutoring for students and was previously known as MathCrunch, has raised $4 million in seed funding from existing and new investors, including Stanford University’s StartX Fund and SOMA Capital
  • 4/15 – Beekeeper, a 4.5-year-old, Zurich, Switzerland-based business communications platform for organizations with field employees, has raised $5 million in new funding led by Fyrfly Venture Partners
  • 4/15 – HomeToGo,  a two-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based metasearch engine for holiday rentals, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Insight Venture Partners
  • 4/15 – RigUp, a two-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based online marketplace for oil-rig projects, has raised $15 million in Series A funding from mostly earlier investors, including Founders Fund

Random long reads 

The Strange Case of the Woman Who Can’t Remember Her Past—Or Imagine Her Future (Wired) – Fascinating story of a middle aged woman in Washington that actually cannot remember her past (and might be better off than us for it). Here is a good passage to set expectations for it — “Before you start to brace yourself for one of those stories—about the onset of dementia, the slow dissolve of a marriage into a relationship of unrequited love, the loss of self—let me reassure you: McKinnon hasn’t lost anything. She’s never been able to remember those experiences.” Very interesting. 

The Secret Rules of the Internet (The Verge) – The Verge does a profile on the power and responsibility that a small handful of people have to moderate the right of free speech and content across the web. Way more interesting than I expected it to be and does force you to think about what is acceptable vs. not in the open web. 

How Metro Boomin Became the Most Trusted Guy in Rap (The Fader) – Metro Boomin may not be a name that non-hip hop fans are fully familiar with, but at 22, he has become one of the most important producers in hip hop. The Fader has the first detailed profile of a man that has taken the industry by storm and made Ben Carson look ridiculous