The Daily Startup: Jounce Therapeutics Raises $56M as Immunotherapy Stays Hot

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Jounce Therapeutics, an immunotherapy company, has raised a large funding round amid a handful of large exits and investor interest in the sector. The company raised $56 million in Series B funding, Brian Gormley reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. New investors in the round include Casdin Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, Foresite Capital, Nextech Invest, Omega Funds, Pharmstandard International, Redmile Group, Wellington Management Co. and an undisclosed public-investment fund.

Immunotherapy is a treatment that attempts to make the body’s immune system fight cancer. Aduro Biotech went public last week, and its stock increased 147% in the first day of trading. Bristol-Myers also recently acquired venture-backed Flexus Biosciences in a deal potentially valued at $1.25 billion. That deal was for Bristol-Myers to secure access to a small-molecule inhibitor of IDO1, an enzyme that dampens immune response. The Wall Street Continue reading "The Daily Startup: Jounce Therapeutics Raises $56M as Immunotherapy Stays Hot"

Are Bad Managers Holding Back Your Best Talent?

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A few years ago I joined a large organization in the U.S. Possibly because I was the last one in, I was allocated the worst secretarial assistance I have had in my entire life.

I spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out what I could entrust her with that would not play havoc with my work. A colleague I confided in gave me some surprising advice: “Her performance review is coming up. Give her the highest possible rating.”

“Why would I do that?” I asked naively.

“It’s the fastest way to get her invited to work in another division,” she said almost gleefully.

I am ashamed to admit it, but I followed her advice and, sure enough, the secretary was snatched up by a manager in another division. Evidently this kind of dysfunctional behavior is not uncommon; in Brazil there is even a term for

Continue reading "Are Bad Managers Holding Back Your Best Talent?"

Smule Raises $26 Million to Scale Its Global Music Network Faster

Smule makes a collection of apps that 25 million people worldwide use to create music together.
Smule

Alicia Woodward sang in school and church choirs her whole life, but when she became a three-time mom and moved to a new community more than a decade ago she stopped because it wasn’t convenient.

“It was like losing an area of myself,” Ms. Woodward said.

Then last year the 32-year-old mother discovered the mobile app Smule Sing which she now uses daily to collaborate with musicians from around the world. “Having this creative outlet of singing fills out who I am,” Ms. Woodward said. “I have friends on there that I talk to as much as, if not more than, my ‘real friends.’ It’s just like any other social media.”

Smule is part of a larger group of technology companies shifting focus away from simply consuming content. From photo and Continue reading "Smule Raises $26 Million to Scale Its Global Music Network Faster"

Japan’s 373 MPH Magnetic Train

Japan's 373 MPH Magnetic Train:

AP:

A Japanese maglev that is the fastest passenger train in the world has broken its own speed record.
Operator JR Central said the train reached 603 kilometers per hour (375 miles per hour) in a test run on Tuesday, surpassing its previous record of 361 mph (581 kph) set in 2003. The train traveled for just over a mile (1.8 kilometers) at a speed exceeding 600 kph (373 mph).
Japan’s high-speed rail services are among the most advanced in the world, with hundreds of trains running each day with minimal delays. However, unlike regular shinkansen or “bullet trains” that run on steel rails, magnetic levitation trains hover above rails, suspended by powerful magnets.

This will cut the travel time between Tokyo and Osaka from 3 hours to just over an hour (when its operational in the 2020s). One day, the U.S. Continue reading "Japan’s 373 MPH Magnetic Train"

The Dos and Don’ts of Work Email, from Emojis to Typos

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Imagine sending a detailed question to your boss and getting a one-word response: “No.”

Is she angry? Offended by your email? Or just very busy? When I conduct research with organizations on the topic of communication, one of the most common themes raised by both employees and managers is the challenge of trying to communicate emotional or sensitive issues over email. Email, of course, lacks most normal cues for relaying emotion, such as tone of voice and facial expressions.

But in many cases, using email is simply unavoidable. So how can you balance the need to communicate with avoiding the potential pitfalls of using emotion in email? Here are five concrete, research-based recommendations:

Understand what drives how emails are interpreted. It is clear that people often misinterpret emotion in email, but what drives the direction of the misinterpretation? For one, people infuse their emotional expectations into how they read messages,

Continue reading "The Dos and Don’ts of Work Email, from Emojis to Typos"

Twitter Ventures Backs Micro-Location Startup Swirl in $18M Round

Swirl founder and Chief Executive Hilmi Ozguc says his startup doesn’t now have a deal with Twitter to use its technology but “it would be a logical outcome of the investment.”
Mark Thomson

In what could be a long-term plan to bolster its mobile-advertising tools, Twitter Inc., through its venture arm, has made a strategic investment in micro-location marketing startup Swirl Networks Inc.

Twitter Ventures and two unnamed groups participated as new strategic investors in Swirl’s $18 million growth round at what Venture Capital Dispatch learned was a valuation around $150 million.

The infusion is significant for Twitter in both potentially bolstering its growing advertising business and in marking the second investment it has confirmed doing since formalizing its venture investing activities. As when it invested in mobile operating system startup Cyanogen in March, Twitter declined to talk about the investment.

For Swirl, the Series C round will Continue reading "Twitter Ventures Backs Micro-Location Startup Swirl in $18M Round"

Project Fi

One of the areas we are investing in and trying to build a portfolio around is next gen internet access. We have one investment and are close to another. We’d like to build a portfolio of a number of innovative and disruptive approaches to broadband internet access in the next few years.

So any new service that attempts to make internet access easier and better is of interest to me. AVC regular John Revay sent me an email today asking if I’m going to get a Project Fi account. I told him I was thinking about it. Right now it is invite only. I’ve put in a request for an invite and maybe this blog post will help me get to the front of the line.

Here’s what I like about the Project Fi offering:

1) it’s a network of networks. i get to roam on two mobile carrier networks instead of one.

2) it supplements the two carrier networks with over a million “free and verified” wifi hotspots

3) you can get mobile data internationally at the same cost as you pay for it in the US

It’s only available right now on the Nexus6, which happily is what I’m using right now.

So I’m hoping to give it a try as soon as possible. And when I do, I will let you all know how it goes.

Bridges to Brooklyn, and Swampland in Florida

Do you believe the stories about the origin of the Flash Crash?  If you do, I have a bridge in NYC and some slightly damp land to sell you.  Yesterday, one person was fingered for the Flash Crash that occurred five years ago.  Do you believe it?  Craig Pirrong doesn’t and neither do I.  Eric Scott Hunsader, no fan of Pirrong, doesn’t believe it either.  Neither does Themis Trading.

Here is what I want to know.  Who is this guy taking the fall for?

Recall how at first it was a fat finger from a trading firm that set the flash crash off.  Then it was, then it was, now it is…..

I have only seen cases where one person totally disrupts and makes a market dysfunctional in boutique, small markets.  It might be possible in an obscure lightly traded stock.  It might be possible in a Continue reading "Bridges to Brooklyn, and Swampland in Florida"

Measuring Bookings, MRR, Revenue and Cash for Your SaaS Startup

Yesterday, I met with a bright, young SaaS entrepreneur who asked me to clarify four key numbers for SaaS companies: bookings, monthly recurring revenue, recognized revenue and cash collections. These four numbers are critical to understanding the health of a SaaS startup, and they can be quite different, so it’s important to have a strong grasp on the distinctions between them. MonthJanFebMarAprMay…Jan ACV Bookings12,000 Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)1,0001,0001,0001,0001,0000 Recognized Revenue5161,0001,0001,0001,000484 Cash Collections3,0003,000

Measuring Bookings, MRR, Revenue and Cash for Your SaaS Startup

Yesterday, I met with a bright, young SaaS entrepreneur who asked me to clarify four key numbers for SaaS companies: bookings, monthly recurring revenue, recognized revenue and cash collections. These four numbers are critical to understanding the health of a SaaS startup, and they can be quite different, so it’s important to have a strong grasp on the distinctions between them.

MonthJanFebMarAprMayJan
ACV Bookings12,000
Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)1,0001,0001,0001,0001,0000
Recognized Revenue5161,0001,0001,0001,000484
Cash Collections3,0003,000

Let’s consider a hypothetical SaaS startup called RedRocket, which sells software for $12k per year, and asks its customers to pay each quarter. On the 15th day of January, one customer agrees to pay RedRocket $12k for a one year contract. The startup doesn’t sell any more software for the next twelve months. The table above Continue reading "Measuring Bookings, MRR, Revenue and Cash for Your SaaS Startup"

Funding Circle rounds up another $150M, bringing valuation to $1B


There’s a big future in the crowdsourcing and democratization of money lending. Funding Circle, which enables individuals and organizations to loan money to small businesses online, has raised another monstrous round of venture funding — $150 million’s worth.

Funding Circle’s total raise is now $300 million. The British company is now valued at $1 billion.

The new round was led by DST Global, BlackRock, and Temasek, a fund backed by the Singaporean government.

The company’s service is now available in the United Kingdom and the U.S., and the new funding will be used to expand the service further in both countries. Through the platform, Funding Circle said, lenders have loaned small businesses around $1 billion so far.

Funding Circle was founded by three Oxford University graduates in 2010.

Source: New York Times

Funding Circle rounds up another $150M, bringing valuation to $1B

Fast money
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There’s a big future in the crowd sourcing and democratization of money lending. Funding Circle, which enables individuals and organizations to loan money to small businesses online, has raised another monstrous round of venture funding — $150 million worth.

Funding Circle’s total raise is now $300 million. The British company is now valued at $1 billion.

The new round was led by DST Global, BlackRock, and Temasek, a fund backed by the Singaporean government.

The company’s service is now available in the United Kingdom and the U.S., and the new funding will be used to expand the service further in both countries. Through the platform, Continue reading "Funding Circle rounds up another $150M, bringing valuation to $1B"

Part 2 of 2: Should you build for the Apple Watch platform?

It was no coincidence that I shared the framework I use to evaluate new platforms at the same time as the Apple Watch was announced last month. My intent was to set the wheels in motion and ask the question that product teams, CEOs and VCs are now facing on the eve of its availability: What version of the Apple Watch should I get? Should we prioritize building an Apple Watch app?

My informed answer is yes.

How did I get informed? First was through holding the Apple Watch and experimenting with the UX in a private demo. I was further influenced by discussing a friend’s perspective after he wore the Watch daily for a few weeks, and hearing how it changed his behavior in a short time. Apple is going to sell a lot of watches and people are going to enjoy using them.

Let’s revisit my platform analysis framework question by question

Watch
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Continue reading "Part 2 of 2: Should you build for the Apple Watch platform?"

Venture Firms Commit $40M to Fund Companies Building on Box Platform

Box CEO and co-founder Aaron Levie at the trading floor after ringing of the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange to celebrate the company’s IPO.
EPA/NYSE / VALERIE CAVINESS

Two Silicon Valley venture capital firms, Bessemer Venture Partners and Emergence Capital, have committed up to $20 million each to invest in companies that are leveraging technology from cloud-storage company Box Inc.

Both firms previously invested in Box, whose users store and share files in the cloud. Box, which has been trying to create an ecosystem of Box apps, announced new technology Wednesday that makes it easier for developers to create applications that run on Box and can be accessed with either desktop or mobile devices.

Several companies announced integrations with Box, including the iPhone app Tipbit, which lets users save attachments or emails directly in Box, and K2, which lets users build applications that include forms and workflows Continue reading "Venture Firms Commit $40M to Fund Companies Building on Box Platform"

E-Commerce Startup Jet.com Spins Lofty Sales Goals Before Launch

Jet.com CEO Marc Lore addresses staff
Jet.com

Jet.com, an e-commerce site from the co-founder of Diapers.com, has yet to launch its marketplace. But it has landed a $600 million valuation, been lauded for its business model and is the buzziest e-commerce entrant in recent memory.

And it is already raising its own ambitions without any real sales. In a presentation to Wells Fargo clients Tuesday, Jet Chief Revenue Officer Scott Hilton said he expects gross merchandise volume on the site of $20 billion by 2020. As recently as late last year, Jet was telling partners this figure would be $5 billion in five years.

Hilton also said Jet expects to have more than 1 million customers paying $50 a year for access to the site by year-end, and 15 million customers in five years.

The figures are “a very conservative view on how Jet will materialize,” Continue reading "E-Commerce Startup Jet.com Spins Lofty Sales Goals Before Launch"

A Brief History of the Ways Companies Compete

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Since the late nineteenth century, we have seen five distinct movements in the way companies compete. The first was efficiency. This was the original purpose of forming corporations — to facilitate the production of products and services with the least amount of wasted time, materials, and labor.  The attempt to turn business into a science of efficiency, also known as “Taylorism,” marked the high point of this movement. Many companies still compete this way and there continue to be successors to Taylorism, including business process reengineering and lean production.

The second movement was scale, a close cousin of efficiency. This is where companies exploit economies of scale that yield lower unit costs and enable sharper pricing of their goods and services. It was given a big boost during the 1970s when the Experience Curve was lifted from the manufacturing floor and adopted as a strategy tool in the

Continue reading "A Brief History of the Ways Companies Compete"

Stop Fantasizing About the Perfect Job

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Some careers seem to maintain a powerful allure. Many people fantasizing about leaving their jobs for careers that seem to offer deep meaning, like teaching or non-profit work, or apparent autonomy, like entrepreneurship. Others are attracted by high-status, high-pay occupations such as law and consulting. Still others want to work in broadcasting or publishing, for example, which maintain a glamorous allure. The irony is that there are probably just as many people itching to get out of these roles as fighting to get in. In any industry, not just these, it’s fairly easy to find people who dislike the work they do.

Why do smart people have such odd blind spots?

Holding out for a job you love offers to solve all problems at one stroke – boss problems, earning enough, making choices. Perhaps most of all it offers us two big-ticket items: meaning and entertainment. Ideal jobs appear to

Continue reading "Stop Fantasizing About the Perfect Job"

Vodafone becomes the new Fon partner in Spain and Italy

blogmartinToday is a very special day for me and everyone else at Fon. I am happy to announce the Vodafone and Fon partnership, to expand the Fon network in Spain and Italy.

When I started this company 9 years ago, I was motivated by a problem I encountered on a trip to Paris. I desperately needed to use WiFi, but I could not find any open WiFi signals. So, I started Fon with a mission – to cover the world with accessible WiFi.

Since then, Fon has grown from that idea to the world’s largest WiFi network. We have built that network together with leading telcos around the globe. Today, you   can find dense Fon WiFi coverage in most countries in Europe, Brazil, and Japan – and we recently announced the extension of our footprint to Australia.

We have been preparing the Vodafone-Fon partnership for a long time, and Continue reading "Vodafone becomes the new Fon partner in Spain and Italy"