Week of March 20, 2016

Last week, today

  • 3/11 – Intel is considering a sale of $1B of its venture capital portfolio and has hired UBS to explore its options (Bloomberg)
  • 3/11 – CB Insights and the NYT have teamed up to rank all venture capitalists on a bunch of different factors. Here is the CB Insights list. Here is the NYT article.
  • 3/11 – Former SVP of Strategy at Dell and Sr. Managing Director atBlackstone, Dave Johnson is stepping down from Blackstone (Fortune)
  • 3/12 – Micromax, once a rising star in India’s smartphone world and a company that walked away from a 20% Alibaba investment at a $1.2B valuation, has struggled over the course of the last year as it faces stiff competition from Samsung and inexpensive Chinese phones (Reuters)
  • 3/13 – John Oliver gives a good breakdown of the encryption debate (YouTube)
  • 3/13 – Overshadowed by the public fight with Apple over encryption is the quieter standoff with WhatsApp (NYT)
  • 3/13 – HP Enterprise is increasingly focused on selling into developers, particularly with new machine learning projects (WSJ)
  • 3/14 – Former Sequoia partner, Michael Goguen responds with a full counter-complaint to the allegations made by someone with whom he had a prior relationship.  Here is the TechCrunch commentary on it and here is the full counter-claim.
  • 3/14 – Data Collective is set to raise two new $280M funds (Data Collective IV and an opportunity fund to follow on) (PE HUB)
  • 3/14 – Former IBM Watson executive, Stephen Pratt, who lasted only 8 months running Watson, has announced that he is incubating a company called Noodle.ai with TPG Growth to focus on combining AI with and data analysis (NYT)
  • 3/14 – Alibaba-backed logistics company, Cainiao, lands funding at $7.7B valuation (TechCrunch)
  • 3/14 – The Wired has a super detailed account about how and whyDropbox shifted from AWS to its own in-house solution (Wired)
  • 3/14 – Lyft will subsidize car rentals for drivers that don’t have a vehicle that meets their standards and are willing to give 65 rides a week (Re/Code)
  • 3/14 – In the world of bizarre and not really that newsworthy, embattled CEO of Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes, is hosting an event for Hilary Clinton (Re/Code)
  • 3/14 – Nordstrom is laying off of 120 tech workers as their profits, which I don’t know what to think about Fortune)
  • 3/15 – Microsoft has booted Okta, a customer and a partner, from its upcoming tech conference according to Okta CEO Todd McKinnon (Business Insider)
  • 3/15 – Amazon has launched a cloud migration service as it continues to expand the AWS product suite (WSJ)
  • 3/15 – Accel has raised $2B across an early ($500M) and a growth fund ($1.5B). TechCrunch has an interview with Sameer Gandhi, Ping Li and Rich Wong (TechCrunch)
  • 3/15 – Business Insider has gotten its hand on Zenefits severance package for its laid off employees, which is kind of standard and kind of not. Coverage of Zenefits is approaching Yahoo level (the point that I don’t care and will kind of believe anything) (Business Insider)
  • 3/15 – SpoonRocket becomes the latest on-demand start-up to shut-down. The Company had raised $13.5M (TechCrunch)
  • 3/15 – Snapchat hires longtime Pandora executive Tom Conrad as its new VP of Product (Re/Code)
  • 3/15 –  Former Siebel Chief Product Officer, Bruce Cleveland is joining Wildcat Ventures after InterWest announced it was only focusing on healthcare investments. Wildcat was founded by a team from Mohr Davidow (Dow Jones). Cleveland’s counterpart at InterWest, Doug Pepper, recently announced he was joining Shasta Ventures. 
  • 3/15 – Re/Code has the story about how the tech industry grouped together to align behind Apple in the piracy debate (Re/Code)
  • 3/15 – Elliott Management does what Elliott Management does.. it appears the pressure applied to Mitel and Polycom is working as the two companies are in talks to merge (Reuters)
  • 3/15 – Google has launched a new product, Analytics 360, that combines Google Analytics Premium, Adometry (attribution) and Google Tag Manager. Targeted at marketers trying to understand user behavior in a multi-screen world (TechCrunch)
  • 3/15 – The weird and not really that connected hacker group Anonymous has declared “total war” on Donald Trump, which will hopefully be hysterical (Fortune)
  • 3/16 – Vista Equity has set a $10B upper limit for its sixth flagship buyout fund. Their target has been $8B. Vista did a first close of over $5.8B last week according to the WSJ (WSJ)
  • 3/16 – Streaming music is taking over, but is increasingly becoming a fragmented landscape of where you can get what. The NYT does a profile on what artists are putting where (NYT)
  • 3/16 – Google gets Apple to adopt its cloud for part of its infrastructure, storing portions of iCloud on its severs. Apple is now playing nice with everyone, using AWS, Azure and Google Cloud (Re/Code)
  • 3/16 – Amazon is reportedly interested in making a bid for Office Depotto help catapult its office supply business. There has also been rumors that Amazon will launch a bid for W.B. Mason (the #3 player in the space) (NY Post)
  • 3/16 – LivingSocial is continuing its slow demise, laying off more than 50% of its staff (280 people). 120 of the jobs are related to customer service, which will now be outsourced. The Company has now laid off 900 people, which coincidentally is the millions of dollars the business has raised (Re/Code)
  • 3/16 – Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund is said to have raised $1B for recent fund (NYT)
  • 3/16 – AT&T is looking to migrate 80% of its applications to the cloud by the end of 2016 (WSJ)
  • 3/16 – EMC has scored a partial win in its patent battle against Pure Storage as a court ordered Pure to pay $14M for infringing on an EMC patent.  EMC had originally sought $80M (Fortune)
  • 3/16 – Instagram is looking to personalize its algorithm with a more programmatic approach vs. traditional time-based streams (NYT)
  • 3/16 – Stewart Butterfield of Slack indicated at a SXSW that he has no interest in hiring sales people (Business Insider)
  • 3/17 – Everyone’s favorite anonymous Twitter account focused on venture, Startup L. Jackson, has been unmasked as Parker Thompson, a Partner at AngelList and 500 Startups before that. Bloomberg business has the story (Bloomberg)
  • 3/17 – Felicis Ventures is seeking to raise a $150M fund (PE Hub)
  • 3/17 – Marc Benioff is threatening to decrease Salesforce’s investments in Georgia if an anti-gay bill is passed (Fortune)
  • 3/17 – The WSJ does a profile on immigration and founding companies in the US, which includes a new study that has found 51% of $1B+ companies (WSJ)
  • 3/17 – Union Square Ventures has raised $167M (with plans to round it out to $175M) for its fourth early stage fund. Its last fund was $175M in 2012 (Fortune). Firm co-founders Brad Burnham and Fred Wilson have stepped down as Managing Partners, replaed by Albert Wegner and Andy Weissman.
  • 3/17 – Google puts Boston Dynamics, a robotics company it acquired in late 2013 as part of a spree of acquisitions led by Andy Rubin, up for sale. Possible acquirers include Toyota and Amazon (Bloomberg)
  • 3/17 – Time Warner is putting more money into Mashable (The Information)
  • 3/17 – Dropbox is reportedly authorizing a secondary sale at a 34% discount to its last round of funding, which was valued at $10B (Buzzfeed)
  • 3/17 – Blackstone is nearing deal to buy HP Enterprise’s stake inMphasiS (Reuters)
  • 3/18 – In the I don’t really believe this camp, Re/Code has an article aboutGoogle shopping for potential cloud acquisitions that includes Namely,Shopify, Callidus and Xactly (Re/Code)
  • 3/18 – Evernote announced more re-structuring at the management team level, including CTO Dave Engberg leaving in May (TechCrunch)
  • 3/18 – Jack Dorsey is saying that Twitter’s 140 character limit will “absolutely not” be going away (Seeking Alpha)
  • 3/18 – SV Angel is targeting a smaller fund ($46M vs. $75M in 2014) after both Ron Conway and David Lee have stepped away from the firm in the last two years (TechCrunch)
  • 3/18 – Yahoo is in discussions with Facebook to sell advertising on the Tumblr platform (The Information)
  • 3/18 – Jeff Williams, who built his name as SVP of Sales that turnedFireEye into the sales machine it was, is joining Bain Capital Venturesas an operating partner (PE Hub)
  • 3/18 – SoundCloud announces that it has officially reached an agreement with Sony Music Entertainment, continuing to pave the way for its new streaming service that will be launched at some point this year (TechCrunch)
  • 3/18 – Spotify has reached a settlement with music publishers in which it will pay over $20M in back payment for issues around mechanical licensing rights (NYT)
  • 3/18 – Atomico is raising $750M for its fourth fund, a nice step-up from its $477M fund raised in 2013 (TechCrunch)

Earnings

  • 3/15 – Oracle shares rose 4% in after-hours as its third quarter results were slightly better than expected. “Cloud” revenue was up 57% year-over-year. Unclear how exactly they are defining cloud since gross margins of that business were 51%. On-premise software is still 70% of the Company’s revenue. Oracle also announced that it has added $10B to its share buyback plan (Re/Code). Fortune has a nice write-up about Oracle’s database business as it relates to financials (Fortune)
  • 3/17 – Adobe traded up 8% in after hours after beating consensus estimates. Its Marketing Cloud grew 21% y/y with quarterly revenue of $377M. The Digital Media business grew 33% y/y on the back of 44% growth in the Creative Cloud (while Document Cloud was mostly flat). Adobe expects the Digital Media business to be at a $4B run-rate by the end of FY ’16 (November ’16) (Seeking Alpha)

Financings

  • 3/14 – Alooma, a 2.5-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based startup that helps companies process and work with big data in real time delivered as a cloud service, has raised $11.2 million in Series A funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital
  • 3/14 – Noodle.ai, a new, San Francisco-based data science company incubated by TPG Growth and led by previous executives from MicrosStrategy, Infosys, GE Digital and IBM Watson, has raised a Series A round
  • 3/15 – Couchbase, a seven-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based developer of Couchbase Server, an open-source, NoSQL, document-oriented database, has raised $30 million in Series F funding led bySorenson Capital
  • 3/15 – Crate Technology, a three-year-old startup that’s been developing an open-source SQL database technology (from offices in San Francisco, Berlin, and Dornbirn, Austria), has raised $4 million in fund led by Dawn Capital
  • 3/15 – Skyport Systems, a three-year-old, Mountain View, Ca..-based enterprise security architecture company, has raised $30 million in Series C funding led by Google Ventures
  • 3/16 — Usermind, a Seattle-based “orchestration hub” for business operations teams, has raised $14.5 million in Series B funding. Menlo Ventures led the round
  • 3/16 — Striim, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based real-time data integration and intelligence platform, has raised $10 million in new Series B funding fromAtlantic Bridge Capital
  • 3/16 — Shoppimon, an Israel-based app performance management startup focused on the e-commerce sector, has raised $2.3 million in seed funding. Backers include AOL.
  • 3/17 — FloQast, a nearly three-year-old, L.A.-based startup that makes month-end closing software for accountants, has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding co-led by Polaris Partners and Toba Capital
  • 3/17 — Handshake, a 5.5-year-old, New York-based maker of wholesale order apps for mobile, has raised $14 million in Series B funding led bySozo Ventures
  • 3/17 — Pieces Technologies, a months-old, Dallas, Tex.-based startup that plans to sell integrated monitoring, prediction, workflow optimization and organizational learning services and software to hospitals and health systems, has raised $21.6 million in Series A funding co-led by Pacific Advantage Capital and Jump Capital
  • 3/17 — Zaloni, a nine-year-old, Durham, N.C.-based data lake startup, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding led by Sierra Ventures
  • 3/18 — Kenandy, a six-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company whose enterprise resource planning software is built on the Salesforce platform, has raised $11.5 million in Series B funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
  • 3/18 — HighGround, a four-year-old, Chicago-based cloud HR platform focused on employee engagement, has raised $7.6 million in new funding led by Chicago-based KDWC

Random long-reads
These won’t always be from the previous week (or month or year) and they mostly won’t be related to tech, but more just stuff I’ve found interesting that you might want to take a look through. Descriptions are mine

  • An Oral History of the Comedy Cellar (Vanity Fair) If you’ve spent any time in the Village in New York (or are an astute observer of the beginning of Louis CK’s show Louis), you’re likely familiar with the Comedy Cellar. A legendary staple of New York’s comedy history where you can walk in and pay $15 on a random night to potentially see everyone from Jerry Seinfeld to Jon Stewart to Dave Chappelle to Chris Rock working on new material or just having fun. Vanity Fair does an Oral History on the history of the Comedy Cellar.
  • The rise of American authoritarianism (Vox) – Like many others, I’ve struggled to understand the rise of Donald Trump and his staying power in the face of everything that could be described as “logic.” Vox analyzes his rise with the thesis that it can be correlated to authoritarianism and looks to a niche group of political scientists that have studied this sentiment in America over the past few decades.