Featured Portfolio Based on Funding Size or ARR

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Recently VisionOne VC shared their Fund I performance with $15m raised in 2012, deployed in 2.5 years into 20 startups, measured in return multiples as of June 30, 2019. You may check out their blog post for more details and see their chart listed below – it clearly illustrates how “power law” returns work in Venture Capital.

I may one day publish Zillionize’s performance as well but since we are a single LP evergreen fund, we don’t really check the paper valuations and calculate IRRs as often as most other funds do for reporting requirements. In other words, we know our outstanding fund performance “by heart”, and are very patient on this journey for the long term with all the wonderful founders we’ve backed since the beginning.

So for now, I’ll list a few featured portfolio startups below based on their funding size (all public info) or ARR (no specific numbers shared here for obvious reasons), which doesn’t necessarily correlate with a startup’s paper valuation due to (lack of) funding or exit events like acquisition or IPO. You may also visit my AngelList.

Cruise - acquired by GM in 2016 for $1 Billion

Boom - raised $141M, Series B

SendBird - raised $120M+, Series B

People.ai - raised $100M, Series C

Algolia - raised $74M+, Series B

Bevi - raised $63M+, Series C

Rippling - (SPV) raised $52M, Series A

Epic! - raised $51M+, Series D

Drivezy - raised $50M Series B +$100M Debt Financing

LambdaSchool - raised $48M+, Series B

Go1 - raised $44M, Series B

Armory.io - raised $42M, Series B

EightSleep - raised $40M, Series B

Bitmovin - raised $40M+, Series B

Chewse - raised $34M, Series C

FlutterWave - raised $22M+, Series A

Paperspace - raised $23M, Series A

Retool - raised $22M+, Series A

Proxy - raised $17M, Series A

Platzi - raised $16M+, Series A

UpKeep - raised $12.8M, Series A

Sense.ly - raised $12M, Series B

Wallarm - raised $11M, Series A

Readme - raised $9M+, Series A

PickTrace - raised $7M, Series A

Zapier - raised $1.3M, super capital efficient and high growth+ARR

Zeplin - raised $1.4M, super capital efficient and high growth+ARR

+ 100 more

Bevi, The Smart Water Dispenser, Raised $35M Series C. What’s Next?

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If you watch HBO (TV series) “Silicon Valley”, you may have caught a glimpse of Bevi, a beautiful and high-tech smart water dispenser. In Jan. 2019, the Boston-based (MIT spinoff) startup announced their $35M Series C led by Bessemer Venture Partners, which brings their total funding to date to more than $63M. Existing investors also participated, such as Horizon Ventures and former Starbucks backer Trinity Ventures. Zillionize invested in seed round in Sept. 2014.

Silicon Valley: Season 5, Ep 3 – Chief Operating Officer
Bevi has been mission driven since day 1 to help eliminate waste from bottled beverages (another Zillionize portco GiveMeTap shares similar mission). Since the company’s founding in 2013, Bevi says they have diverted over 65 million bottles and cans from entering landfills and oceans, at over 30,000 bottles per machine annually.

Bevi is essentially LaCroix on tap and comes in 2 models: Standup and Countertop. It’s hooked up to an existing water line and filters water directly to provide still, sparkling and flavored water on demand, including lemon, lime mint, coconut, blueberry, cucumber and more 0 or low calorie choices from fruit essence. By 2020, these machines will have more customizable additions, Bevi CEO Grundy added. Some potential features include temperature control, wider control over carbonation, an option to add functional ingredients such as vitamins to the beverage and features that can help track hydration and nutrition.

Currently, Bevi has offices in Boston, SF, NYC, and Chicago, and its clientele includes more than 2000 corporate offices (like Microsoft, Apple and Lyft), startups (like Peloton), health care facilities (like Texas Medical Center and Danbury Hospital), universities, law firms, and financial service companies (like Fidelity). It’s rapidly expanding in metropolitan areas across U.S. (more than 30 states) and Canada.

Bevi also plans on hiring significantly this year to add at least 40 employees in innovation (software, hardware and customization options), operations, sales and marketing to its current staff of 90 people strong. “We’ve been recruiting executives from the best of the best in order to become one of the best ourselves,” Grundy says. Their notable executive hires since last year included COO out of Amazon, a VP of Hardware Engineering out of Boston Dynamics, a VP of Finance from Placester, and Sales Executive from PepsiCo and Starbucks.

Calling customized drinks a new category that Bevi has the potential to “own,” Grundy believes customization will play an important role in the beverage industry moving forward, pointing to PepsiCo’s $3.2 billion purchase of Israel-based SodaStream in late 2018. I remain excited to see Bevi continue building a meaningful brand to serve all their customers. If you want to have it at your place, please request here.

BTW, can someone help me understand what this quote means “I can smell that you were the gibbon”?

SendBird, #1 Chat Platform for Apps and Websites, Raised $102M Series B. What’s Next?

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SendBird, a complete chat platform with Messaging SDKs and Chat API, recently closed $102M Series B. $50M was announced in Feb. 2019 led by Iconiq Capital, which claims such big-name backers as Mark Zuckerberg. Another $52M Extension was announced in May 2019 led by Tiger Global Management. Existing investors Shasta Ventures, August Capital, Y Combinator and Funders Club also participated, and Zillionize invested in the seed round in March 2016.

The company has similar value propositions as Twilio for communications or Stripe for payments. It enables developers to integrate chat and messaging features into their mobile apps or websites with a couple of lines of code. With the new funding, SendBird will re-invest in their product, hiring, go-to-market, and is well positioned for more aggressive growth and International expansion to solidify their #1 leading position by number of users, revenue and growth rate (doubling and tripling)!

SendBird has very flexible, highly scalable, fully customizable, white label messaging capability. “We come with a fully managed infrastructure. So basically, you can log into any mobile applications or websites out there, and use our messaging capability.” company founder and CEO John Kim explained.

It is applicable in any application that requires communication, including gaming (like Nexon, Glu Mobile and Dream11), dating apps (like Hinge), on-demand delivery services (like GoJek and Delivery Hero), and marketplace (like Dubizzle) – any case where two people need to communicate quickly. SendBird’s other notable customers include Yahoo!, NBA, Managed by Q (WeWork), and KeepTruckin etc. all over the world.

Feel free to catch Bloomberg’s LIVE interview with CEO John Kim here on July 08, 2019. When asked about SendBird’s runway and if profitable, John commented, “We’ve been growing and operating very capital-efficiently so our runway could be 8 to 3 years, give or take. We can be profitable if we choose to, but we’ll reinvest so we are not profitable by choice. Our investors are very long-term thinking and would want to see us really dominate this market and continue to be the number 1, rather than turn a quick profit. In the foreseeable future, we are very financially stable. ” Doesn’t this remind you what Jeff Bezos always preaches? 🙂

In John’s spare time, apparently he thinks in much grander scheme like M&A to form new countries and test new systems. Well, after all, he’s already expanded SendBird offices from South Korea and Silicon Valley to London, Singapore and Bengaluru, so maybe one day, he’ll also take SendBird to Mars!

Lambda School Raised $30M Series B To Empower Underserved Adults With Free Online Education. What’s Next?

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Lambda School, a for-profit online coding bootcamp with Income Sharing Agreement (free until hired for more than $50,000/year and then pay 17% monthly salaries capped at $30,000 tuition in total) that Zillionize seed invested from YC S17 batch, announced its $30M Series B funding in January 2019. This round brings the total capital invested in Lambda to $48 million at a post-money valuation of $150 million.

Lambda School Cofounder Austin Allred. COURTESY: LAMBDA
As the founder and CEO Austen mentioned in this Forbes article, this round actually came inbound other than traditionally active fundraising effort. “I was getting a dozen emails a day from potential investors,” he says. “I think we were the first coding boot camp to put all the pieces together, and word gets around in Silicon Valley.”

In this post, we’ll share some more exciting news since their Series B announcement.

  • International Expansion. You may find out more here regarding its EU/UK program, and here about its partnership with PayStack to expand in Africa.

  • $2,000 Monthly Living Stipend. You may participate in the Q&As here via hacker news or apply to join their waitlist on their website here
Check out the blog post here
  • Loaner Laptops. You may read more about Anthony’s story on his own blog here

  • Charity Fund. You may kindly donate here to help cover internet bills, rent checks, etc for Lambda School students who are out of options financially. True story: a mere $400 was separating a student from graduating and 2 months after Lambda briefly covered his rent, he got a full-time job making $70,000/year.
  • “Summer Hacker Program for Women launched by YC co-founder Jessica Livingston with Lambda School. “I’m going to give 40 women $9000 stipends to cover their living expenses while they take Lambda School’s programming course. Lambda School has created a 15-week program designed to fit during the summer break and have generously agreed to cover these 40 students’ $12,000 tuition. We’re calling it the “Summer Hackers Program.” And you may read more why Livingston started this program here.
  • Inspiring success hire stories @HumansOfLambda. My most recent favorite would be this unnamed hero beating all the odds to find her way to a better life: single parent with 5 small children, no work experience and half a degree, teenager kid challenge, early stage cancer diagnosis, enrolled in and graduated from Lambda School with 6-figure salary (and more than one job offer)!
In addition, feel free to check out Lambda School’s CIRR Outcomes Report for H1 2018 cohort to let these numbers convince and impress you!
You may also listen to Austen’s podcast with YC to learn more about this non-traditional founder building a non-traditional but life-changing startup.

    1. grew up in Utah
    2. served as a Mormon missionary in Ukraine before college
    3. dropped out of college
    4. lived in a car for 3 months in Palo Alto
    5. hustled to sell 300 football tickets to pay for car tow
    6. failed a previous startup with Series A investor pulling out last minute, but hence published a successful book writing about growth (Cindy’s note: I actually had to dig into my notes 2yrs ago to find this reddit thread that got me convinced (together with his other qualities) to back Austen on his new venture: “I’ve been doing whatever the hell you call this my whole life. SEO, ads, CRO, SQL, a little data modeling to make it work at scale. Even wrote a book about it that I’ve made $130k from in the past year.”
    7. launched Lambda School with a fellow BYU dropout Ben Nelsonor
    8. the rest is history (in the making)

Better yet, follow Austen on Twitter to see why the hype?! Like me, you may not even need your 2nd cup of coffee everyday after reading all those inspiring stories from Lambda School graduates! 🙂

Chewse – Online Office Catering Service in California Raises $19M

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Raising the total funding amount to $33.9M, Chewse – a San Francisco based online office catering service with corporate meal programs has bagged another $19M after going through its Series C funding round. The funding round was led by Foundry Group with participation from other investors including 500 Startups and Gingerbread Capital.

Chewse was added to our portfolio in 2014. In September 2015 and June 2017, Chewse went through Series A and Series B rounds respectively. Now, Chewse is serving Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and Silicon Valley markets.

“We initially started with a contractor model but then very quickly started to realize our customers often mentioned the host or the driver in their feedback,” Chewse CEO and co-founder Tracy Lawrence told TechCrunch.

“I know there’s a lot of other companies that are like food tech or logistics but for us, it’s all about elevating and improving company culture,” Lawrence said. “We have technology but we’re investing in it to create an exceptional real-life experience.”

“On the tech side, we’re using a ton of machine learning and algorithms to learn what people like to eat and create custom meal schedules,” Lawrence said.

Please read the full story at TechCrunch.

Drivezy – Self Drive Rental Service in India Raises $20M

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Two years ago, we added Drivezy (formerly JustRide) to our portfolio and in such a short span of time, Drivezy has become one of the biggest marketplaces in India for renting cars and motorbikes.

Drivezy is constantly adding more funds to keep its fuel tank full for a long and successful journey. For instance, it has raised $20M in Series B round led by Das Capital (other investors include Yamaha Corporation, Axan Partners and IT-Farm). Not just that, Drivezy has also signed a $100M asset financing deal with Japan based ICO (Initial Coin Offering) advisory service, AnyPay which is great. Keep driving forward, Drivezy!

Abhishek Mahajan, one of the company’s five co-founders, told TechCrunch in an interview that the fleet should add a further 50,000-60,000 new vehicles, 75 percent of which would be two-wheelers, thanks to the AnyPay deal.

Mahajan said that Drivezy is currently market leader when it comes to self-drive two-wheelers — “self-drive” meaning vehicles that can be rented for a trip — with motorbikes and scooters accounting for “the bulk” of transactions, but just 20 percent of revenue. (That’s opposed to 80 percent for cars.) Revenue itself is 25 percent of the cut of a rental.

Aside from the asset financing deal — which will see AnyPay’s Harbourfront Capital vehicle own the new assets — Drivezy uses peer-to-peer and dealership partners for its fleet. The peer-to-peer appeal centers around increasing the utility of vehicles (and providing additional income to owners); that’s a similar pitch to car dealerships, who can draw income from vehicles used on Drivezy that would otherwise sit idle waiting to be purchased.

But the AnyPay deal is a “game changer,” according to Mahajan.

“When we fast-forward five years, we can’t imagine a scenario that car ownership in India goes from eight percent [right now] to U.S. level of 80 percent. India will have to skip a cycle on the culture of ownership and move into a sustainable sharing of cars model,” he added.

Please read the full story at TechCrunch.

People.ai – AI-Based Revenue Intelligence Platform Raises $30M

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Graduating from YC Summer 2016 batch and starting as a report card of sales people, People.ai has now turned into a revenue intelligence platform for enterprises that intakes data from 90+ sources and analyzes it with specially designed AI algorithms to deliver insight on revenue opportunities. To improve their technology and expand their business further, People.ai has raised another $30M in Series B funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from GGV Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Y Combinator.

The startup, founded by Oleg Rogynskyy, previously raised $7 million. It started as a software meant to give sales managers a predictive playbook for the best way to close a deal, but investors have a master plan for the long term.

While Rogynskyy tells me he’d eventually like to take the company public, People.ai first needs to solidify itself as an AI solution for enterprises. To do so, the founder says they will use about half of the Series B investment to fund commercial expansion and customer acquisition (something the Andreessen network will undoubtedly catalyze) and the other half to fuel data science and engineering advancements within the business. The San Francisco-based company has also opened offices in Boston and Los Angeles, and is considering building out an engineering-focused team in Canada.

“We’ve expanded so that we don’t solely work with salespeople. We now work with everyone who touches the customer interactions, including marketing, inside sales engineers, customer success and sales support services. People.ai not only captures the activity of salespeople, but now gives teams a 360 degree view of everything that is happening with a customer across an entire team,” explains Rogynskyy.

Please read the full story at TechCrunch.