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SparkLabs Global Ventures’ Technology

and Internet Market Bi-Monthly Review

December 19 , 2016

Bi-monthly Highlights

Global Trends

China’s Biotech market is heating up
China’s biotech market is on the cusp of its truly boom given the huge market size and supports from the
government. Like in many other fields, the sheer size of China’s population has become one of the major
advantages to boost biotech sector. As the country announced its plan to invest 60 billion RMB (US$8.86
billion) by 2030 to accelerate precision medicine initiative, domestic companies started to lay out in the rising
industry. Several major capital injection cases in the sector marked this trend. In April 2015, biotech startup
iCarbonX secured a $154 million USD round of Series A funding. One month later, LIVZON Pharmaceutical
Group invested 10 million USD in U.S. cancer diagnostics company Cynvenio. Noticing the change,
Illumina plans to expand its biotech accelerator program to China in the beginning of next year, Zhao Ruilin,
China head of U.S. genetic sequencing service Illumina introduced.

The holiday season seems to have given virtual reality a reality check
Virtual reality makes for an amazing demo. But good demos don’t equal good purchases. With largely high
prices and no real killer app, it’s still hard to consider VR more than a fun, somewhat excessive tool for a
smattering of games and experiences. And as this chart from Statista shows, it doesn’t look like Thanksgiving
weekend boosted VR’s momentum. According to video game market research firm SuperData, shipments for
VR headsets in 2016 are now estimated to be lower than the already meager forecasts they had before the
biggest shopping weekend of the year. Sony’s PlayStation VR has gotten the biggest downgrade, thanks to
what SuperData characterizes as modest marketing and supply inconsistencies. That said, those original
forecasts seem optimistic

SparkLabs Global Ventures ( is a global seed-stage fund with partners in
Silicon Valley, Chicago, London Tel Aviv, Singapore, and Seoul.

SparkLabs Global Ventures’ Technology
and Internet Market Bi-Monthly Review

December 19 , 2016

Asia Pacific

WeChat maker Tencent invests in China’s hottest new social app
China’s most unique social app Fenda, has scored funding from social media giant Tencent. The “series Aplus” round amount was undisclosed. Fenda is an unusual Q&A app that gained a lot of traction and visibility
over the summer as a number of Chinese celebrities joined the social network, including movie star Zhang Ziyi.
Pricing is set by the individual answering the question so it varies according to how famous that person is.
Picking the brain of well-known sexologist Li Yinhe will cost you around US$40, but asking Zhang Ziyi
something will set you back almost US$500. All the answers are recorded as voice messages. The responses
will cost you about US$0.15 to listen to. Tencent executive Xia Yao describes Fenda as “one of the most
important knowledge sharing platforms in China.” The startup has apps for iPhone and Android, and it also
works fully within its WeChat brand account.

Laundry service Edaixi gets series B plus, promises profits in 12 months
China’s on-demand laundry service Edaixi has announced the completion of their B plus round of funding led
by detergent manufacturer Libai Group, joined by Profit Palance Group as well as other unnamed investors.
The amount was not disclosed, however Edaixi claim the round was worth hundreds of million RMB. In addition
to partnering with Libai Group, Edaixi has made several moves to expand into sectors down the chain,
with investments in laundromat franchise EBJ Cleaner and luxury product maintenance service Green Bag
Hotel, a subsidiary of the Profit Palace Group. The funding is significant for Edaixi as it comes amid a year-long
funding shortage that hit China’s startup industry. Edaixi was rumored to be considering layoffs which
intensified as the O2O craze seems to be cooling in China. However, the three-year old startup is now showing
gross profits and balanced cash flows, according to company founder and CEO Lu Wenyong. Lu added that
the company is expecting to generate profits in the next year.

South Korea

Y-Combinator in $2.7m funding for Korea’s ‘Uber for cleaners’
Shortly after WaHome, Miso’s arch-rival, pulled in a healthy sized seed funding round, Miso has also
announced it has secured a US$2.7 million seed round led by a bunch of Silicon Valley investors, including Y
Combinator AddVenture, FundersClub, Sazze Partners, Strong Ventures, and Korea-based Primer. Angel
investors also took back including Geoff Ralston, partner of Y Combinator. The Miso Team entered the Y
Combinator program this summer. The service, which connects Koreans with cleaners, is now active in the
cities of Seoul, Incheon, and the capital’s suburbs across Gyeonggi province, explains co-founder Victor Ching.
“We have served over 30,000 customers to date,” added Victor. Some of the Miso money will go towards
expanding beyond just being an Uber for cleaners. “We plan to launch our first new verticals at the beginning
of 2017,” says Victor. New markets outside South Korea are also on the cards, but Victor has not disclosed
any further details.

Korean startup raises $1.6 m so employees can clock in on their phones
Albam, a time tracking and payroll app from Korea, has announced it has raised US$1.6 million in series A
funding, led by Capstone Partners. Other investors include, Kolon Investments, K-Bridge Investments, Shift,
and Plantree Partners. The service allows employees to use their phones to check in within five meters of their
office, which have iBeacons installed. This eliminates the major business pain of taking attendance and
antiquated clocking in methods. Apart from check-ins and outs, employees can also view their schedules and
claim shifts requested by bosses in the app. Albam also has an automated payroll accounting system that it’s
beta-testing with some brands in Korea, including coffee chain Tom & Tom’s, convenience store chain CU,
and fast fashion company Wonderplace. Currently more than 6,000 stores are using Albam in Korea and
1,600 are paying users. The startup will use the money to grow its market share in Korea and expand to the
rest of Asia, it says in a statement.

Making hearing aids as cool as wireless headphones
SparkLabs Global Ventures ( is a global seed-stage fund with partners in
Silicon Valley, Chicago, London Tel Aviv, Singapore, and Seoul.

SparkLabs Global Ventures’ Technology
and Internet Market Bi-Monthly Review

December 19 , 2016
South Korean- based startup, Olive Union, has launched an Indiegogo campaign for stylish hearing aids.
Dubbed Olive, the little gizmo looks more like a wireless headphone which appeals to its younger target
audience. The Bluetooth buds are not just amplifiers – they have directional microphones and noise
cancellation. The battery in the Olive hearing aid is also reminiscent of a set of wireless headphones – which
has a downside. The startup estimates battery life at just four hours. As to conventional hearing-aids which
online surveys state have average battery lives of 82 hours. However, it recharges quickly within the case
provided. The stylish design is now selling to global shoppers on Indiegogo for US$69, with the thing shipping
out December 2017. The regular retail price will be US$100. The price tag is way below the usual hundreds of
bucks – or even thousands – of old-school hearing aids.

South Korean startup gets $1m to ‘stop distracted driving
The South Korea-based startup FingerTips Lab, announced yesterday that it has secured US$1 million in
funding from some major backers including 500 Startups, PCH International, YSK Partners, as well as Silicon
Valley angel investor Eric Ries. The investment came six months after the team conducted a Kickstarter
project that saw just over 1,200 people pre-order the Bluetooth dial for around US$100 apiece. Attracting
US$160,000 in advance sales, which ships in March. The idea is that you can keep your eyes on the road
most of the time, using O6 to navigate through stuff on your phone – like your email, Twitter – with only the
briefest of glances at what’s selected on screen. The current team is small with a total of 8 members across
Seoul and the US, but they are looking to grow ahead of the gadget shipping to its Kickstarters backers.


Japanese edtech startup Arcterus scores $1m funding for Southeast Asia expansion
Startup Arcterus has raised a US$1 million in series B funding from its new business partners. The team has
forged an alliance with distance learning company Z-Kai and Japan’s second-largest national newspaper
company, Asahi, for premium content on its Clear app. Clear allows users to view, share, and rate their class
notes. Students simply snap a photo of their notebooks, add stickers and highlights, and upload it for the
community. Someone studying the same subject or using the same textbook can review the notes and follow
note-takers they like. So far, Clear has 1.2 million users in Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, and China. Arcterus will
use the funding from its partners to further develop its product and expand in Southeast Asia. “We are planning
to enter Vietnam, Indonesia, and Philippines in 2017 and 2018,” says CEO Arai.

Laundry folding robot from Japan bags $60m funding ahead of 2017 launch
Laundroid has landed a US$60 million in funding from Panasonic, Japan’s SBI and real estate company
Daiwa. This will allow Laundroid to likely launch next year, when the appliance goes on sale in Japan. It’s set
to arrive in other countries sometime 2018. There’s no price tag yet for the huge gizmo, which uses robotics,
AI, and image recognition to grapple your garb into respectable shape. It then stacks the folded items on the
shelves inside its refrigerator-sized chest. However, Laundroid requires a large amount of space and most
likely will carry a plus-sized price tag as well. It might have more of a future at businesses that need to fold a
ton of stuff, like a clothing store or a hotel.

Japan’s LifeRobotics closes series B round with $9 million in funding
LifeRobotics, the Japanese startup behind the Coro robot, announced it has closed its series B round, having
raised US$9 million. The round was led by Global Brain and with other participating investors in this round
including, Mitsui Fudosan, Japan’s leading industrial electronics manufacturer Koden Holdings, Mizuho Capital,
Golden Asia Fund as well as other unnamed Japanese businesses. LifeRobotics was founded in December
2007, and has been developing robots that allow users to “teach” the robot how to move using a 3D mouse or
a game pad without complex programming skills. The company is developing the “co-robot” Coro for small
manufacturing spaces where conventional robots are difficult to be placed, in addition to improving people’s
productivity and promoting manufacturing automation. The company claims Coro co-robot has been adopted
by major companies including Toyota Motors and Omron. The newly secured funds will be used to enhance
mass-production/sales of the co-robot and improve follow-up services for users.

SparkLabs Global Ventures ( is a global seed-stage fund with partners in
Silicon Valley, Chicago, London Tel Aviv, Singapore, and Seoul.

SparkLabs Global Ventures’ Technology
and Internet Market Bi-Monthly Review

December 19 , 2016


PatSnap raises series C from Sequoia to help businesses manage their intellectual property
PatSnap, an online intellectual property intelligence service for businesses, announced today it has closed a
series C round of funding. The round is led by Sequoia Capital China and is joined by Shunwei Capital and
Qualgro. The funding amount is undisclosed, but SVP of corporate development and strategy Ray Chohan
tells Tech in Asia it’s in the “tens of millions of dollars.” The startup claims its platform can handle a business’
research and development IP needs from idea generation to commercialization. PatSnap uses machine
learning and artificial intelligence to go through datasets like patent and trademark registrations all over the
world. The startup claims to serve over 3,000 customers, including NASA, Vodafone, MIT and further claims
the company has been growing at a revenue rate of 120 percent year-on year. The startup will use the funding
to boost research and development on new products. These include an IP management service that’s focused
on material science and pharmaceuticals.


A virtual shopping buddy just raised $1m. An ex-Huawei prez bought into the idea
ShopsUp, a startup from Bangalore has raised US$1 million in seed funding. Yang Shu, a former Huawei
president and CEO of Taojinjia, and Anand Sankeshwar of transportation company VRL Logistics are its
mentors and investors. Shopsup says it wants to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping by
becoming a virtual shopping companion to millennials. It offers exclusive offers and discounts from their
favorite brands and stores, and instant gratification via rewards that they collect through walk-ins and
purchases in-store. The rewards can be instantly redeemed for useable like free movie tickets, cab rides, spas,
or gift vouchers. ShopsUp has partnered with Uber to help young buyers with their shopping runs. Shopsup is
currently a free Android app with an iOS version coming soon. The plan is to use the smartphone to help brand
and retail partners with data on a consumer’s decision-making habits, and incentivizing the shopper to buy
more offline.

India’s Knowlarity bags $20m for international expansion
Cloud telephony startup Knowlarity Communications has laped up US$20 million in a series C round of funding
led by Dubai-based Private equity firm Delta Partners. Existing investors Sequoia Capital India and Mayfield
Fund also participated in the round. The investment amount includes an undisclosed amount of venture debt –
debt financing provided to venture-backed companies – from Blacksoil and Trifecta Capital. The startup, which
includes Google, Amazon, Uber, and Zomato on its 15,000-long client list, has raised US$41 million to date.
Founded in 2009, Knowlarity offers communication tools for small and medium enterprises, such as a virtual
contact center, click-to-call feature for mobile apps, and automated text and voice messages. Knowlarity plans
to use the newly obtained funds for international expansion in Southeast Asia and West Asia, and part of the
funds will also be used to paunch new analytics and AI products. Knowlarity may also use the funds for new

Indian small business lender Aye Fin raises $10m in funding
Non-banking finance company Aye Finance has raised US$10.3 million in a series B round from LGT IV and
existing investors SAIF partners and Accion. Aye Finance offers loans to profitable micro, small, and medium
enterprises (MSMEs). To date, Aye Finance, has disbursed loans worth about US$15 million to 40 different
MSME clusters such as brass casting, carpet manufacturing, garments trading, and restaurants. By March
2018, the company plans to increase its loan disbursal to over US$70 million, with additional 40 new clusters
that it will add to its portfolio. Over the next five years, the company targets to disburse loans worth close to
US$300 million. Aye Finance plans to use the newly secured funds to expand its presence in the southern and
western parts of India and part of the funds will be used to strengthen the company’s cloud-based technology
for better risk analysis of potential MSME clusters. The company will set up a dedicated data warehouse this

SparkLabs Global Ventures ( is a global seed-stage fund with partners in
Silicon Valley, Chicago, London Tel Aviv, Singapore, and Seoul.

SparkLabs Global Ventures’ Technology
and Internet Market Bi-Monthly Review

December 19 , 2016

Fashion startup Koov raises $16m from India’s Times Group, other investors
Fashion store Koovs has raised US$16 million from India’s largest media house, the Times of India Group and
other investors. The firm said the fundraising is part of a three-year program to secure US$43.3 million,
planned since 2015. With the latest tranche the company has raised US$38.4 million to date. The investment
from The Times Group gives the ecommerce firm easy access to advertise across TV, outdoor and digital
platforms in addition to print and radio. “The Indian ecommerce market is undergoing exceptional growth driven
by the internet connected middle class in urban centers. This investment puts Koovs is in a strong position to
lead in this rapidly growing new ecommerce market,” said Koovs CEO Mary Turner. India’s online shopping
market is set to be worth US$23 billion this year.


OnOnpay raises pre-series A to get Vietnam hooked on mobile payments
Vietnamese mobile wallet and phone top-up startup OnOnPay topped up its own balance with a pre-series A
round worth US$800,000. Founded in early 2015, OnOnPay addresses the needs of unbanked people in a
market where credit cards are not widely used. The startup offers both a web-based platform and a mobile app
that allows users to top up their prepaid phones and win rewards like extra credit and coupons. The startup
claims to have grown “tremendously” since its undisclosed, six-digit seed round in August 2015, however CEO
Sy Phong discloses no specific figures. The startup intended to continue growing within Vietnam and then look
outward in Southeast Asia this year, with Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines in mind. OnOnPay was
second runner-up at our Arena pitch contest last year in Singapore.


Thai jobs platform raises $420k to make it easier to get hired
Bangkok-based WorkVenture announced it closed a seed funding round worth US$420 000 from several
investors, including leading businessmen Sommaphat Traisorat and Songphon Chaovanayothin. WorkVenture,
previously known as JobNisit, is a jobs portal that wants to help millennials in Thailand by matching them with
relevant positions based on their experience and profile. It does so through an in-house algorithm known as
the ‘WorkScore.’ The startup claims to simplify the entire process of job hunting by providing insights on
company culture through reviews, office pictures, and other interactive content. It also helps recruiters: its
algorithm prevents a flood of job applications, helping them screen only the most suitable candidates. The
venture started operations in 2014, and claims to have 400,000 monthly visitors with 500 employers sourcing


Pakistan-based lockscreen app closes $3.6m series A from South Korean investor
Pakistan based startup Slide, has announced that it has closed its series A funding round worth US$3.6
million. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The round was led by Songhyn Investments, which raises Slides
total fundraising to US$4.6 million to date. Slide is similar to apps like Candy and Popslide. It incentivizes
users to read content that pops up every time they unlock their phones. Readers accumulate points for each
click which they can then exchange for mobile phone top-ups. Slide has blown past their 1 million download
target and claims to have 5 million downloads already. CEO Junaid Malik states the newly received funds will
be used to further strengthen the company’s presence in Pakistan and develop more products.

SparkLabs Global Ventures ( is a global seed-stage fund with partners in
Silicon Valley, Chicago, London Tel Aviv, Singapore, and Seoul.

SparkLabs Global Ventures’ Technology
and Internet Market Bi-Monthly Review

December 19 , 2016


KFit buys Groupon Malaysia
Three months after acquiring Groupon Indonesia, fitness startup Kfit announced that it has bought the
ecommerce group’s Malaysia operations. The move solidifies KFit’s foray into the deals space. Prior to this
transaction, the company added deals for massage and spa on its app, and launched a separate deals app
called Fave. Fave offers people vouchers for food and certain activities, with discounts ranging from 10 to 70
percent. It’s available in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and Singapore, listing over 3,200 businesses across these
cities. In Indonesia, CEO Joel says Groupon’s achieved “nearly 2x growth since our acquisition”, and further
states he is confident that the same growth can be replicated in Malaysia. Next year, Joel shares Fave will
employ a “hybrid model” where customers can get savings not only in the form of vouchers but also cashbacks
or points after each purchase. Fave will pilot this among 100 partner merchants before rolling it out to the
public, according to Joel.

Beauty tips startup Favful swipes $500,000 funding
Beauty advisor community Favful has bagged US$500,000 in seed funding from Shanghai-based VC Gobi
Partners. The Malaysia-based startup closed the deal in April this year but announced it only today. Favful
offers price comparisons and ratings for beauty products based on skin type, and features reviews from users
to make the shopping experience less overwhelming. Favful had been backed by investors including 500
Startups even prior to its launch. The team will use the investment to expand to other parts of Southeast Asia
and ramp up its marketing.


More efficient and accurate diagnosis: Aldoc raises $3m
Aldoc has raised US$3 million from the Magma and E.merge funds. Aldoc looks to accelerate and more
accurately diagnose patients when it comes to medical imaging. AIdoc (formerly TailorMed) is building a
platform for radiologists that will improve the process of analyzing medical scans. Essentially the technology
analyzes the scan and the patient’s clinical information, and guides the radiologist to the most relevant places
in the scan. Aldoc is in development of this first product and are on the verge of implementation in Israel and
the US hospitals. Aldoc currently has eight employees, and are looking to take part in the Startup Arena

Israeli startup Kang Health gets $3.3 million seed round for better search on medical questions
Kang Health has landed a respectable $3.3 million seed round with a few lead investors, including: Bessemer
Venture Partners, Comcast Ventures, Mangrove Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Primary Ventures, and
Taboola CEO Adam Singolda who is joining their board. Kang Health’s software takes an AI approach to
diagnosing symptoms, that will at one time facilitate a conversation with a user about his or her symptoms
while simultaneously drawing crowd-sourced data from others who reported similar symptoms. From
there, Kang’s platform would draw diagnostic and treatment suggestions. But there are large risks involved in
self-diagnosis which has shown a decrease in WebMD searches. However, investors seem to have faith in a
diagnosis-suggesting website or platform might be rekindled with more accurate results, which seems to be
what investors are banking on with such a high seed round.

Fluxiot will help you grow your own food
Fluxiot has developed a product called Eddy that analyzes a plant’s surroundings and gives tips and feedback
for amateur hydroponic gardeners. Eddy is a small sensor that floats on the water of a hydroponic garden or
farm and monitors essential chemical parameters of the environment. Using interaction with lighting, humidity,
and other sensors, the device examines the changing balance of chemicals in the water. Currently Fluxiot is
selling the device at $150 a unit, and with a monthly subscription fee. They are also in amidst of closing their
$1 million financing round next month from their strategic international partners. Technology company LED is
leading the round, with participation from a number of angel investors.
SparkLabs Global Ventures ( is a global seed-stage fund with partners in
Silicon Valley, Chicago, London Tel Aviv, Singapore, and Seoul.

SparkLabs Global Ventures’ Technology
and Internet Market Bi-Monthly Review

December 19 , 2016

United States

App intelligence startup Apptopia raises $2.7 million from Ashton Kutcher, Mark Cuban, others
Apptopia, an app intelligence startup based in Boston, has raised a $2.7 million seed round of funding from
Ashton Kutcher’s and Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures VC firm, existing investor Mark Cuban, 500 Startups, and
a handful of other VC firms. Founded in 2011, Apptopia serves up what it calls “the most accurate” downloads,
revenue numbers, and SDK data across all mobile app and publishers in the world. Apptopia claims some big
name clients, including Google, Pinterest, Facebook, NBC Universal, Deloitte, and more. The company says
that it will use its fresh cash injection to make better products with “more intelligence to create the next
generation platform,” according to a press release. “We’ve seen tremendous growth over last year, tripling
annual recurring revenue since the beginning of 2016,” said Apptopia CEO Eliran Sapir. App analytics and
intelligence is big business, with a number of notable players in the space, including App Annie, which has
raised a whopping $157 million in equity funding, and which has snapped up rivals, such as Distimo.

Gay dating app Hornet raises $8 million, its first institutional funding
Hornet, a dating app that touts itself as “the world’s second largest gay social network,” announced that it has
raised $8 million in its first round of institutional financing. The Series A round was led by Shanghai-based VC
firm Ventech China, and adds to the $500,000 angel round Hornet raised back in 2012. Hornet serves to
“strengthen” the gay community by “providing quality social interactions with more ways to meet and engage in
local gay communities,” the company says. It recently made its first acquisition, snapping up gay city guide
Vespa for an undisclosed amount, with Vespa’s places and events data integrated into Hornet in a major
refresh earlier this month. Vespa says that it’s now the top gay social network in some markets, including
Russia, Brazil, France, and Taiwan, with three million active users each month across the board. Hornet says
that its cash influx will be used to “support rapid business growth and user adoption” around the world.

Helpshift pulls Cisco into $25 million round for in-app customer support
Cisco is joining as an investor into Helpshift‘s previously announced $25 million funding round. Cisco adds just
a couple of million dollars to the previously announced round. Other investors in the round include Intel Capital,
Microsoft Ventures, and Salesforce Ventures. Helpshift has been able to reduce customer support costs for a
wide swath of clients by building robust customer support directly into apps. It provides answers for frequently
asked questions (FAQs) and improves search in help queries so that users can perform more self-service in
getting help with their apps. Helpshift’s customers include Zynga, Virgin Media, Microsoft, Western Union,
Flipboard, Shyp, WordPress, and thousands of other industry-leading brands, startups, and developers.
Helpshift is installed on 2 billion devices worldwide, and it serves more 400 million mobile customers
monthly. The company further states the additional funding from Cisco Investments will be used to help
the entire contact center industry transition from being reactive to proactive while driving higher customer
satisfaction and lowering cost.

Fitbit is buying Pebble for $30-40 million
Fitness wearable creator Fitbit is in the process of acquiring smartwatch maker Pebble in a deal that will likely
spell the end of the Pebble brand. VentureBeat has learned that the sale price will be between $34 million and
$40 million. Pebble had been itching to sell itself and there had been indications of financial issues plaguing
the company for some time. Should the deal go through within the anticipated price range, it would signal a
drastic reversal of fortunes for Pebble, which burst onto the scene when it set a Kickstarter record of $7
million with its inaugural smartwatch. The Information said Fitbit will receive the company’s intellectual property
and wearable expertise following closure of the deal, which could help it expand into other products. The
addition of Pebble looks like an effort to rejuvenate the company, but whether it will have a definitive impact is
questionable. Furthermore, Fitbit will have to cover largely Pebble’s debt, as much as $25 million of which is
owed to Silicon Valley Bank. Investors in Pebble include Y Combinator, Draper Associates, CRV, ACE &
Company, Tim Draper, and Mark Friedgan.

SparkLabs Global Ventures ( is a global seed-stage fund with partners in
Silicon Valley, Chicago, London Tel Aviv, Singapore, and Seoul.

SparkLabs Global Ventures’ Technology
and Internet Market Bi-Monthly Review

December 19 , 2016

Yewno raises $6.5 million more to help publishers ‘digest’ long form content
Yewno has raised an additional $6.5 million for its content analytics solution, the Redwood, Calif.-based startup
announced. The investment, led by entrepreneur Desmond Shum, brings Yewno’s series A funding round to
$16.5 million. Yewno’s technology “mimics the human brain” to analyze and give context to long form content.
And, much like the brain, Yewno’s algorithm learns page by page, extracts content, and develops knowledge,
making it not only a search engine, but also a discovery platform. The investment, Gramatica said, will power
Yewno’s entrance into the publishing industry in China — where it expects to open offices soon. “We are
experiencing strong traction of the new Yewno for Education inference engine among leading universities
around the world, and we’re preparing to expand into additional vertical markets,” said Gramatica.

BetterUp raises $12.9 million and launches platform that connects employees with professional
BetterUp, a new startup that serves to open career coaching to anyone, has official launched and announced
$12.9 million in funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ), Social Capital, Freestyle, Crosslink, SV Angel,
and Vista Venture Partners. The overall funding constitutes a $2.9 million seed round and $10 million Series A
round. Based in San Francisco, BetterUp connects employees with “certified, executive-level coaching,” with
members meeting their mentors for weekly 30-minute sessions over video-chat or phone. Between meetings,
coaches give employees activities and exercises, along with resources such as videos, podcasts, and readings
to aid their professional development, while on-demand support is also available by text. Through the platform,
BetterUp provides analytics to track progress across areas such as leadership effectiveness, happiness, and
productivity. The company claims to have already nabbed some notable clients during its stealth phase,
including Logitech, Capital One, and Deloitte.

Cogito raises $15 million to help call center staff detect customers’ mood from their voice
Artificial intelligence company Cogito raised $15 million in its latest funding round. The $15 million funding
round was led by OpenView and included Romulus Capital and Salesforce Ventures. Cogito combines
behavioral science and artificial intelligence to detect a person’s emotional state and determine if their mood
has changed and how conversations are going — all in real time. With the use of Cogito, customer satisfaction
at some companies grew by more than 20 percent, while agent engagement grew by more than 50 percent,
Cogito said in a statement shared with VentureBeat. Cogito is also being used outside of customer
service. Cogito is working with the Department of Veterans Affairs to assist veterans with Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD). Cogito worked with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the
investment arm of the Department of Defense, from 2007 to 2011.

Security firm Optiv files for IPO, seeks to raise $100 million
Cybersecurity company Optiv Security, majority owned by Blackstone Group, filed with U.S. regulators for an
initial public offering of its common stock on Friday. The company set a nominal fundraising target of $100
million in its filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Optiv was created when cyber security
companies Accuvant and FishNet Security merged in 2015. Blackstone made a majority investment in
Accuvant in 2014. Denver, Colorado-based Optiv intends to list its common stock on the New York Stock
Exchange under the symbol “OPTV”.

Symantec to purchase LifeLock for $2.3 billion
Symantec said it would acquire U.S. identity theft protection services company LifeLock for $2.3 billion, in a
deal that it hopes will prop up sales at its Norton cybersecurity unit. “(Norton) had been declining with the
declines in PC market share. This acquisition brings $660 million in revenue to the consumer business and
returns it to longer sustainable growth,” Symantec Chief Executive Greg Clark said in an interview. Symantec’s
purchase of LifeLock is in line with its efforts to diversify its offerings. In August, it bought Blue Coat Inc, which
helps firms maintain security over the internet. Symantec said the LifeLock deal is not expected to have a
material impact on its financial results next year, and reaffirmed its fiscal year 2017 and 2018 guidance. The
deal also represents a victory for activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp, which had pushed LifeLock to

SparkLabs Global Ventures ( is a global seed-stage fund with partners in
Silicon Valley, Chicago, London Tel Aviv, Singapore, and Seoul.

SparkLabs Global Ventures’ Technology
and Internet Market Bi-Monthly Review

December 19 , 2016
explore its options. Symantec was advised by Citigroup and JP Morgan, along with Bank of America, Barclays
Plc, and Wells Fargo. LifeLock was advised by Goldman Sachs.

API market place RapidAPI raises $3.5 million, led by Andreessen Horowitz
RapidAPI, startup from San Francisco has developed a marketplace through which developers can easily
discover, test, and start using publicly available application programming interfaces (APIs), is announcing
today that it has raised a $3.5 million seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz. SV Angel also invested in the
startup. The service supports more than 100 APIs, and it has a backlog of 300 that users have requested, Gino
said. Around 20,000 developers are using the free version of the service, and a few companies are paying for
an enterprise tier that can be deployed in companies’ on-premises data centers to manage internal APIs, Gino


Swiss fertility tracking startup Ava closes $10 million Series A round
Ava a Swiss medical technology company focused on innovations in women’s health, has raised $9.7 million in
a strategic Series A round led by European VC firm Polytech Ecosystem Ventures. The Ava bracelet uses a
patented big data approach to precisely detect a woman’s entire fertile window in real time. The company is
working on clinical studies to expand its algorithms for use in both pregnancy recognition, pregnancy
monitoring, and possible use as a non-hormonal contraceptive device. The funds will fuel further product
development and clinical research, scale production and support expansion into Europe and other new

France’s Wynd raises $31.7 million for international expansion of its retail platform
Paris-based Wynd announced today that it has raised $31.7 million as it seeks to take its point-of-sale solution
beyond the borders of its native country. Inestors in this Series B round included Sodexo Ventures, Orange
Digital Ventures, and Bpifrance. Wynd had raised $7.4 million last year in a round led by Alven Capital, and
had brought in a seed round of $1.9 million the year before that. Wynd offers a points-of-sale product to let
large retail chains create a single digital system for their customers’ information and purchases, both in-store
and online. The firm has been growing aggressively in France, where it now has about 70 employees. CEO
Ismaël Ould has stated the company will be opening offices in the UK and Dubai soon.

China’s acquiring travel search website Skyscanner for $1.74 billion International Ltd, China’s biggest online travel company, has agreed to acquire travel search website
Skyscanner Holdings Ltd in a deal valuing the Scotland-based company at about 1.4 billion pounds. ($1.74
billion). Skyscanner enables users to compare prices from different travel sites when searching for flights,
hotels, and rental cars. The website currently serves 60 million monthly active users and is available in over 30
languages. The company was valued at $1.6 billion in a funding round in January, when it raised 128 million
pounds from a group of investors that included Malaysia’s sovereign fund, Khazanah Nasional, and Yahoo
Japan Corp. However, Skyscanner’s current management team will continue to manage its operations
independently after the close of the deal by the end of 2016, Ctrip said. Ctrip’s shares were up 9.2 percent at
$44.75 in extended trading.

France’s Sigfox raises $160 million to expand its IoT network to 60 countries
French IoT startup Sigfox announced today that it has raised $160 million as it continues to build out its
communication network for connected objects. the latest round for Sigfox ranks among the largest ever in
France. Investors include Salesforce, Total, Parrot cofounder Henri Seydoux, Alto Invest, Swen CP, and
Tamer Group. Previous investors also participated in the round, including Bpifrance, Elliott, Intel Capital, Air
Liquide, Idinvest Partners, and IXO. Launched five years ago, Sigfox is building a dedicated communications
network that allows connected devices to send short messages over long distances. The network allows the
devices to run on low power, meaning they can be installed in large numbers at low cost and don’t require
additional charging or batteries for years or decades. Sigfox has now raised a total of almost $300 million in
venture capital, and its network is operating in 26 countries.
SparkLabs Global Ventures ( is a global seed-stage fund with partners in
Silicon Valley, Chicago, London Tel Aviv, Singapore, and Seoul.

SparkLabs Global Ventures’ Technology
and Internet Market Bi-Monthly Review

December 19 , 2016

Female fertility app Clue raises $20 million in round led by Nokia Growth Partners
Berlin-based Clue announced that it has raised a $20 million round to extend the global reach of its fertility
tracking app. The round was led by Nokia Growth Partners and was officially confirmed today on stage at
Slush, the tech conference happening this week in Helsinki, Finland. Other investors in the round include
Union Square Ventures and Mosaic Ventures. Clue states that it has more than 5 million women use the app,
which allows them to track their menstrual cycle to know when they may be ovulating. Clue will use the money
to continue hiring at its Berlin offices and for marketing the app in new markets.

Swedish IoT startup H&D Wireless raises $3 million, considering IPO
Swedish IoT startup H&D Wireless has raised $3 million from Blasieholmen Investment Group and its network
of 40 Swedish and European private entrepreneurs and investors. The company says it has the option of
bringing in an additional $4 million from the same investors. H&D Wireless was founded in Stockholm Sweden
in 2009. The company says it has, to date, shipped more than 1,000,000 Wi-Fi units for smart home and
wireless multimedia solutions across the globe. The capital will be used for H&D Wireless’ continued global
expansion and the launch of its IoT cloud platform that allows cashless payments and location tracking
services within a large number of applications. As part of its expansion plans, the company is considering an
IPO on NASDAQ First North in Stockholm during the first half of 2017.

SparkLabs Global Ventures ( is a global seed-stage fund with partners in
Silicon Valley, Chicago, London Tel Aviv, Singapore, and Seoul.