Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Bay Area Tech Wire - May 9

BAY AREA TECH WIRE -- May 9, 2017
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Oakland-Based Pandora Secures $150 Million Investment; Will Explore Sale
o San Francisco-Based Remix Raises $10 Million in First Round of Funding
S.F.-Based Climate Corp. Acquires Agriculture Software Company HydroBio
San Jose-Based Datos IO Lands New Investments from Cisco and NetApp
o FCC Says Attack Aimed to Keep People from Commenting on Net Neutrality
o Briefly Noted:
Malwarebytes, General Catalyst - Khosla Ventures

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o Oakland-Based Pandora Secures $150 Million Investment; Will Explore Sale

Oakland -- Pandora, the Oakland-based Internet radio service, said it has landed a new $150 million investment commitment from KKR, but plans to explore a possible sale of the company before the financing closes. "We have positioned the company to evaluate any potential strategic alternatives, including a sale, in the 30 days before the financing is set to close," said Chairman James Feuille, who along with Peter Gotcher will resign from the board. "I believe the steps we are taking today offer Pandora the ability to consider all opportunities and to set a course for the future." Under the deal, the investment firm plans to buy $150 million of the company's convertible preferred stock. Pandora will have the option to increase the amount to $250 million if it chooses to issue additional shares. Richard Sarnoff, KKR's head of media and communications private equity investing in the Americas, will join the company's board of directors. "We believe that Pandora is uniquely positioned over the long term given the sheer size of its user base, the quality of its new subscription services and the fact that it has created one of the few scaled streaming media businesses in the U.S.," said Sarnoff. The news comes four months after Pandora announced plans to cut its U.S. workforce by 7% in a bid to reduce operating costs and move toward full-year profitability.

o San Francisco-Based Remix Raises $10 Million in First Round of Funding

San Francisco -- Remix, the San Francisco-based developer of an online platform for public transit design, said on Tuesday it has raised $10 million in its first round of funding, led by Sequoia Capital. Sequoia partner Aaref Hilaly has joined the company's board of directors. The company said it will use the proceeds to accelerate product development, expand its sales and marketing activities and broaden its geographic reach. Remix's web-based platform is designed to help city planners quickly design transit routes and immediately understand the cost and demographic impact of a proposed change. More then 200 cities currently use the platform. "Public transit determines more about a person's life than almost any other factor. But there's a gap between where our public transit is and where it needs to be," said co-founder and CEO Sam Hashemi. "We believe technology has the potential to dramatically improve public transportation." Founded in 2014, Remix now has raised a total of $12 million from Sequoia, Y Combinator and SV Angel.

o S.F.-Based Climate Corp. Acquires Agriculture Software Company HydroBio

San Francisco -- The Climate Corp., a San Francisco-based unit of Monsanto that develops digital tools designed to help farmers increase their productivity, said it has acquired Denver-based agriculture software company HydroBio. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Climate Corp. said the acquisition will strengthen its efforts to deliver digital technologies to farmers. "HydroBio has unique irrigation-focused data analytics capabilities, and as global water use for crop production increases, efficient irrigation is becoming even more important to the future of sustainable agriculture," said CEO Mike Stern. "Their tools will complement our Climate FieldView digital agriculture platform offerings in the future." HydroBio uses a combination of satellite imagery, soil data and hyper-local weather data to deliver irrigation insights for farmers to help improve crop water-use efficiency and maximize yields. Monsanto Growth Ventures (MGV), the venture capital arm of Monsanto, was an early investor in HydroBio.

o San Jose-Based Datos IO Lands New Investments from Cisco and NetApp

San Jose, Calif. -- Datos IO, the San Jose-based developer of application-centric data management technology, said on Tuesday it has landed new investments from Cisco Investments and NetApp. Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed. "The addition of Cisco Investments and NetApp as investors accelerates our routes to the enterprise market," said co-founder and CEO Tarun Thakur. Datos IO's cloud data management architecture is designed to help customers protect, mobilize and monetize their data at scale.

o FCC Says Attack Aimed to Keep People from Commenting on Net Neutrality

Washington, DC -- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said its website was the victim of a cyber attack over the weekend, designed to keep people from commenting on proposed changes to net neutrality rules. Despite numerous published reports, however, the agency denied the website issue was the result of a call to action by comedian John Oliver, the host of HBO's "Last Week Tonight," who urged viewers to submit comments to the FCC against proposed changes to the Obama-era rules. The website problem appeared to begin around the same time Oliver's show aired Sunday night. "Beginning on Sunday night at midnight, our analysis reveals that the FCC was subject to multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDos). These were deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC's comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host," wrote David Bray, the FCC's chief information office, in a statement. "These actors were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC." Bray said the attacks overwhelmed the FCC's servers, preventing them from responding to people attempting to submit comments.

o Briefly Noted:

(Santa Clara, Calif.) Santa Clara-based Malwarebytes, a developer of malware prevention and remediation technology, on Tuesday named Raj Mallempati as its senior vice president of marketing and Elena Verna as its senior vice president of growth. Mallempati most recently was the vice president of global marketing at MobileIron, while Verna was the senior vice president of growth at SurveyMonkey.

(Los Angeles) A pair of Bay Area venture capital firms, General Catalyst and Khosla Ventures, have co-led a new $1.6 million seed round for Los Angeles-based Cover, a technology company that designs, manufactures and installs custom backyard studios ranging from small offices to guest homes. Fifty Years, Hyperspeed Ventures and angel investors also took part in the round. The company, a graduate of Y Combinator's Fellowship Program in 2016, plans to use the funds to ramp production and continue expanding its staff.

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> Happy People and Bottom-Line Results: How Bankable Leaders Deliver Both

Why do I have a hard time getting my employees to listen? Why do I struggle to inspire and motivate them? How can I motivate my employees while driving strong financial results? Many of today's leaders ask themselves these same questions. Here, we share three tips to become more "bankable."


> Baird Commentary: How the IoT Revolution Is Driving Consolidation

In a recent commentary on the ever-evolving Internet of Things (IoT) revolution, Baird's senior technology bankers discuss how the proliferation of IoT-enabled software and services and ongoing industry consolidation. Today's sophisticated IoT software and systems not only connect disparate devices, they collect, verify and cleanse data -- diminishing the long-time challenge of cutting through "noise" inherent to data aggregation and facilitating in-depth analysis and application of the collected information into actionable intelligence. This IoT revolution is quickly catching up to its hype by transforming businesses across many sectors. The value of IoT technology has become imperative, and growing demand is fueling tremendous acquisition interest from a diverse range of buyers, pushing competition higher and accelerating consolidation in the space. Read Baird's insights into this rapidly evolving space and the related M&A activity: http://www.rwbaird.com/news/Unlocking-Intelligence 


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