The Daily Startup: ‘The Market Spoke’ About Thrillist Funding, Breakup

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

When Thrillist Media Group announced its new funding of $54 million, it also announced that it was splitting its media and e-commerce businesses, Yuliya Chernova reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. Ben Lerer, co-founder and chief executive of the company, had been saying for years that media companies need to sell physical wares to achieve scale. After the annoucement of the split, Mr Lerer said, “The market spoke.” Mr. Lerer said that when the company when out to fundraise earlier this year, it became clear that it could achieve a better valuation, raise more capital and attract the right investors with separate businesses. German media giant Axel Springer invested in the digital media company that will continue with the name Thrillist Media Group. The company’s e-commerce business, JackThreads, received an investment from Oak Investment Partners and SBNY, formerly SoftBank CapitalNY.


MedCap Advisors, which has successfully launched startups over the last decade, is expanding by raising a $150 million venture fund. MedCap provides investment-banking and strategic-advisory services to medical-technology companies and venture capitalists. The Cambridge, Mass., firm expects to hold a first closing for MedCap Fund I LP around year-end.

Foundersuite has wrapped up its $935,000 seed funding round to offer a set of online tools to help small companies with fundraising and business operations. The round’s lead investor, ffVC, was joined by individual investors.

Vectra Networks Inc. has raised $35 million in new funding for its cybersecurity product that aims to automate the discovery of network breaches. New investor DAG Ventures led the Series C round, which included existing investors Accel Partners, AME Cloud Ventures, IA Ventures, Intel Capital, Juniper Networks’s Junos Innovation Fund and Khosla Ventures.

Neon Therapeutics Inc. has raised $55 million in Series A funding with an initial goal of developing a vaccine to improve responses to cancer therapies known as checkpoint inhibitors. Neon was founded by Neon Therapeutics, which participated in this round along with Neon Therapeutics and Clal Biotechnology Industries.

Curology Inc., a company formerly known as PocketDerm, has raised $4.2 million in Series A venture funding to help people who suffer from acne get diagnosed fast through a mobile app, and attain affordable prescription creams that the company makes in its own laboratory. Sherpa Capital invested in the company.

Mirna Therapeutics Inc., a clinical-stage company that is developing cancer therapies, has decreased its proposed price for the shares in its initial public offering. The company estimates selling 6.25 million shares in its IPO, which would raise $43.75 million. The company previously estimated selling 4.65 million shares at a price between $13 and $15 a share. At the midpoint of that price range, the company would have raised $65.1 million in the offering.

PerfectServe Inc., which has developed a communications tool for teams of caregivers, has added $21 million in equity and venture debt to an $11 million Series C round that the company raised several years ago. The equity portion of the add-on was provided by existing investors MemorialCare Innovation Fund, CHV Capital, Piper Jaffray and River Cities Capital Funds. New investor Ares Capital provided the venture debt.

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SolarCity Investors Reunite in $90 Million Deal for Renovate America. Renovate America Inc., which partners with local governments to finance residential energy upgrades, has raised $90 million in new funding, The Wall Street Journal’s yuliya Chernova reports. Silver Lake Kraftwerk joined lead investor DFJ Growth for the funding round, which included Valor Equity Partners, an earlier investor. All of the investors were venture funders of SolarCity Inc.

SoftBank Makes $1 Billion Fintech Bet With SoFi Investment. Online lender Social Finance Inc. announced that SoftBank Group Corp. has led a new $1 billion investment round in the company, the WSJ’s Peter Rudegeair and Telis Demos report. The WSJ reported in August about the funding round, which values the company, which goes by SoFi, at about $4 billion.

Coding School General Assembly Raises $70 Million. Five-year-old General Assembly, an education startup training workers in software programming and other technical skills, has raised $70 million in new funding, the WSJ’s Douglas MacMillan reports. The funding round was led by Advance Publications, the owner of Condé Nast

Aceable Steers Ahead With $4.7 Million for Driver’s Ed Apps. Saying “driver’s ed” may conjure up images of adults sitting in a classroom-like setting for hours, but the startup Aceable Inc. wants to bring those classes available on mobile apps or the Web, the WSJ’s Lora Kolodny reports. The startup was seeded with $4.7 million from Silverton Partners, which led the investment, Capital Factory, Floodgate Ventures and NextGen Angels.

Evernote’s Job Cuts Are a Rare Pullback for Billion-Dollar Startup. Note-taking app maker Evernote Corp. cut 47 employees and told its staff that it plans to close its offices in Taiwan, Singapore and Moscow, the WSJ’s Douglas MacMillan reports. The workforce reduction, which was 13% of the company’s staff, is rare among venture-backed startups that are valued at $1 billion or more by investors. “A smaller, more focused team today will set us up for growth and expansion tomorrow,” company Chief Executive Chris O’Neill said in a blog post.

Dolly Raises $8 Million to Become the UberX of Movers and Haulers. Several startups have emerged to take on the moving and hauling industry with on-demand apps that allow users to summon people with trucks or vehicles. One such startup, Dolly, has raised $8 million for its on-demand moving and hauling service, the WSJ’s Lora Kolodny reports. Maveron led the Series A investment, which was joined by Dolly’s earlier backers KGC Capital and individual investors, including Jeff Welke, a senior vice president of consumer business at Inc.

Xiaomi Faces Competition From Companies Copying Its Business Model. Phone maker Xiaomi, one of the most valuable startups in the world, became one of the largest smartphone makers in the world in just four years, but now it is being challenged by other companies that are selling smartphones at or below cost, the WSJ’s Li Yuan. “We were the innovator, the challenger and the disrupter,” company founder Lei Jun said in an interview. “Then all of a sudden, we became the one that’s being challenged. It’s terrifying and hard to adapt to.”

Uber Wins Delay of Trial Against Two Top Executives. Ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc. has won a nearly five-month delay for the trial of two if its top executives in France, the WSJ’s Sam Schechner reports. The two executives face a trial in February on six charges that range from deceptive commercial practices to illicit storage of personal data. Each charge could bring prison time and fines.

Write to Mike Billings at Follow him on Twitter at @mbillings