The Strand 🌴 - March 24, 2019

Travis Kalanick's VC firm invests in Indonesian trucking app, LA-based Fifth Wall Ventures invests in Opendoor, management changes at Backstage Capital, and Leonardo DiCaprio is a tech fund adviser.

Welcome to the twenty-seventh edition of The Strand, a weekly-ish newsletter covering venture capital, private equity, and general business news from around the Los Angeles area. My name is Brendan Boken, a native of Southern California. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, send deals/news to

Open Applications for Acceleprise Accelerator

Acceleprise is a B2B SaaS focused accelerator with locations in SF and NYC; and backed by exceptional operators including Tien Tzuo (CEO of Zuora), Rowan Trollope (CEO of Five9), Susan Kimberlin (early engineering leader at Salesforce) and many others. They’ve invested in over 100 companies since launching in late 2014 and those companies have gone on to raise over $90M in follow on funding from funds like Founders Fund, Uncork Capital, Crosslink, NEA, Bowery, 8VC, Salesforce Ventures, SV Angel, and countless others. Their next program kicks off in June 2019 and applications are open now with a rolling acceptance policy.

Ideal applicants are those building B2B SaaS businesses in any sector, from anywhere in the world, and most benefit from sales and fundraising mentorship. The 4-month program provides $50K in funding, hands-on and personalized support, warm introductions to large corporations, investors, and their deep network of advisors in addition to a growing and close-knit community of portfolio founders.

Venture Capital Funding

Cold Genesys, a nine-year-old, Santa Ana, California-based biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel immunotherapies, has raised $22 million in Series C funding led by ORI Healthcare Fund, with participation from Perserverance Capital Management. PE Hub

Figment Networks, a one-year-old, Toronto, Ontario-based startup that sells institutional-grade proof-of-stake infrastructure services designed to keep cryptocurrency tokens safe, has raised $1.3 million in seed funding, including from Los Angeles-based Bonfire Ventures, FJ Labs, and XDL Capital Group. Figment Networks - Medium

Kargo, a one-year-old, Jakarta, Indonesia-based early-stage “Uber for trucks” startup that was founded by a former Uber Asia executive, has raised $7.6 million in seed funding led by Sequoia India, with participation from Travis Kalanick’s Los Angeles-based 10100 VC firm. TechCrunch

Opendoor, the 5.5-year-old, San Francisco-based online home-selling service, has raised $300 million in funding from investors including General Atlantic, Hawk Equity, Softbank Vision Fund, Access Technology Ventures, Lennar Corporation, Los Angeles-based Fifth Wall Ventures, SV Angel, Norwest Venture Partners, NEA, GGV Capital, Khosla Ventures, and GV. The funding brings the company’s total equity to $1.3 billion, along with $3 billion in debt financing for buying properties. TechCrunch

Songtradr, a 4.5-year-old, Santa Monica, California-based music licensing platform, has raised $12 million in Series B funding led by WiseTech Global CEO Richard White. The company has now raised $21.5 million altogether. Billboard

Private Equity Funding

Ares Management Corporation acquired CoolSys, Inc., an Anaheim, California-based refrigeration and HVAC services company, from Audux Private Equity. Financial terms were not disclosed. Business Wire

Liquidity / Exits / M&A

Yilport Holding of Turkey is in advanced talks to buy a Long Beach, California-based container terminal being solid by China’s Cosco Shipping for nearly $2 billion, per Bloomberg. Cosco is divesting the terminal as a condition of its 2018 acquisition of Orient Overseas International. Bloomberg

New Funds

No LA-based firms announced new funds this past week.


Palomar Holdings, a La Jolla, California-based specialty property insurance provider focused on floods, earthquakes, and wind, filed for a $50 million IPO. Genstar Capital backs the firm. Barclays, JP Morgan, and Keefe Bruyette Woods are the underwriters on the deal. The company plans to list on the NASDAQ as “PLMR”. NASDAQ

On The Move

No Los Angeles-based companies or firms gained notable new employees this past week.

Featured Jobs

Flexport, a company reinventing global trade, is hiring a Global Account Executive in the company’s greater LA office.

GoodRx, a prescription transparency company, is hiring an Associate Data Analyst in the company’s Santa Monica office.

LeaseLock, an insurance technology company replacing security deposits with insurance, is hiring a Director of Marketing in the company’s Marina Del Rey office.

News, Resources, & Required Reading

Backstage Capital is shaking up its management structure - Arlan Hamilton, founder of the firm, is stepping down as CEO of Backstage Studio, the firm’s venture studio that incubates new companies and products. Christie Pitts, a partner and chief of staff at the firm, will now be in charge of Backstage Studio. Hamilton writes that she will focus on “brand and vision evangelizing, raising assets under management, and mentoring my team.” Fortune

Here are all the companies that presented on Day 1 and Day 2 as part of Y Combinator’s W19 Batch.

Instagram has unveiled “Checkout with Instagram”, which allows the 130 million people who tap Instagram’s product tags to now buy those items without leaving the app, The new feature launched this past week in the U.S. with more than 20 top brands, including Adidas, Kyle Cosmetics, and Warby Parker. TechCrunch

Leonardo DiCaprio is joining a climate-technology fund as an adviser, bringing the Oscar-winning actor’s environmental activism deeper into the capital markets. DiCaprio will advise on global-growth stage technology investments at the fund, which is part of Princeville Capital, a $500 million investment firm based in San Francisco and Hong Kong. Fortune

Lyft plans to make its public market debut in the coming week. The company will list shares on the NASDAQ under the ticker “LYFT”, and is expected to be valued at as much as $23 billion, well above the company’s last funding round valuing the company at $15.1 billion. At a $23 billion valuation, it would be one of the largest IPO’s in the past ten years:

Myspace, the social networking site acquired by NewsCorp in 2005 for $580 million, may have lost more than a decade’s worth of user music during a server migration. Some users are skeptical of the situation and believe that Myspace just did not want to deal with the upkeep and cost of hosting 50 million old MP3’s. TechCrunch

Sparking joy: 6 LA office spaces that spark imagination, delight - and really good work. Built in LA

Tech at every age: How these 6 LA companies are empowering the elderly. Built in LA

This past week, Google unveiled Stadia, the company’s upcoming video game platform. It works with any internet-connected device using existing video game controllers or Google’s own controller. You’ll be able to play from a game’s YouTube video and make your own playable clips as well. The Awesomer

Uber has selected the New York Stock Exchange for its initial public offering. The company’s expected to publicly file for its offering in April, kicking off a listing that could value the company at as much as $120 billion and is likely to be the biggest of the year. Rival Lyft has elected to go public on the NASDAQ, which was once the dominant exchange for tech startups going public. Bloomberg

Warner Bros.’ CEO Kevin Tsujihara is exiting his role as chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment, a job he’s held for six years as the company investigates his relationship with a young actress. Mr. Tsujihara’s resignation comes two weeks after he won an expanded role under a restructuring at AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit. Wall Street Journal

Take a Break

In 2011, just as “Game of Thrones” was about to become a worldwide phenomenon, Emilia Clarke faced the first of two life-threatening brain aneurysms.

Live on Product Hunt - Roadtrip: a music listening app that invites you and your friends to jam out together.

One Shining Moment - Los Angeles Lakers edition.

Ron Burgundy was on the call for the Sharks/Kings hockey game and he delivered.

The pizza empire - an interesting profile on the comeback story of Domino’s Pizza.

The VC Starter Kit made the rounds on Twitter this week, providing you with all the essentials you need to be a venture capitalist, including a Patagonia fleece vest, Allbirds, Peter Thiel’s Zero to One, and subscriptions to Term Sheet, StrictlyVC, and more. Pretty funny stuff.

What I’m Listening To

@OverheardLA Posts of the Week

Unsplash Photos of the Week