Roundup: Julep Mints, TiE Angels, Showrooming, Predictive Policing
Seattle beauty brand Julep scores Series B cash, while TiE Seattle joins the angel investing game, Placed studies Amazon “showrooming,” and Seattle police get crime prediction software. We also note comings and goings at Contour, the University of Washington College and Engineering, Lighter Capital, and Cascadia Capital.
—You may have to be on the A-list just to invest in Julep Beauty Incorporated. The Seattle online beauty products retailer has closed a $10.3 million Series B round, led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from earlier investors Maveron, the VC firm with the imprimatur of Starbucks founder Howard Schultz; Western Technology Investments; and Version One Ventures. Andreessen joins Lady Gaga’s manager and superstar-backed Precedent Investments (Jay-Z and Beyonce, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith) in backing the company, which has now raised $20.3 million. Founder Jane Park is building the company from the ground up on modern e-commerce and social marketing platforms. “My vision is to bring a new social approach to the beauty industry by having a two-way conversation online with our fans, incorporating their ideas directly into our rapid product innovation cycle,” she says in a statement. The company claims beauty industry speed records for 52 new product launches in the last 18 months. The funding will help Julep continue that pace, expanding from mascara, lip gloss, and nail color, to skin care and other color cosmetics this year and next.
—TiE Seattle has launched a new angel investing group. TiE Angels Group Seattle, or TAGS, will focus on Northwest startups with early-stage—seed or Series A—investments, networking, and mentorship. Participating angels must be accredited investors and TiE Seattle Charter Members. The group says it may charge an annual membership fee. TAGS will accept applications from companies in sectors including software/infrastructure, Internet, mobility, healthcare and medical devices, education, and cleantech. The group plans monthly events to hear presentations from short-listed companies, with TAGS members making individual investment decisions.
—The biggest Amazon.com showrooms are in brick and mortar retailers Bed Bath & Beyond, PetSmart, and Toys ‘R’ Us, where shoppers take a close look at products in the physical world and then buy online through Amazon. That’s according to a large new study of the practice of “showrooming” by Seattle retail researcher Placed, which surveyed nearly 15,000 American shoppers in January, and measured almost 1 billion location data points to map consumer movements in the real world. “All the attention to date has been on Target and Best Buy as the early victims of showrooming, but significantly more retailers are at risk,” Placed CEO David Shim says in a statement. “Retailers need to know that it’s not a question of if or when showrooming will impact their business, as an aisle to Amazon is already in their store.”
—It’s not quite Minority Report, but the Seattle Police Department is the latest to use data and location technology to focus patrols on areas where crimes are likely to occur. The SPD has been using “Predictive Policing” software—developed by UCLA and the Los Angeles Police Department, and based on earthquake aftershock modeling—to focus on property crime in two precincts since Sunday, but plans to deploy it across the city in April and eventually use it to predict other types of crimes, Mayor Mike McGinn announced. The software uses algorithms that crunch data from the last five years on crime type, location, and time—but not information about who committed the crime, a point the SPD emphasized—to predict crime hotspots down to a single square block.
—Comings and goings:
Marc Barros is out as CEO of Contour, the wearable video camera company he co-founded nine years ago, noting “the company needs fresh legs and a leader with a different set of experiences” in the face of stiff and well-funded competition from the likes of GoPro. “The company’s core challenge now is competing on a brand, marketing, and sales front, which is not consistent with the experiences I bring to the table,” Barros writes on his blog.
The University of Washington has named Michael Bragg as dean of the College of Engineering, effective July 15. Bragg comes from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was interim engineering dean, with a background in aeronautical engineering and a research focus on aircraft icing. He also co-founded two faculty startup companies.
Revenue-based financing company Lighter Capital has hired Molly Gregg Otter as a vice president. She was previously vice president at private equity firm AEA Investors LP, and “will have a strong influence on how we manage and scale our high volume, next-generation credit evaluation systems and processes,” says Lighter CEO BJ Lackland.
Cascadia Capital has named William Nicoloff, an oil and gas investment banker, as managing director of its Energy, Environment, and Sustainable Technologies group. The Seattle investment bank also added John Siegler, formerly with Capital Run LLC, as a managing director focusing on Internet, media, mobile, consumer, retail, and restaurant businesses.