Mar 9, 2018

Axios Pro Rata

By Dan Primack
Dan Primack

Greetings from a packed Starbucks about 10 miles away from the powerless/heatless/waterless home office. Back to regular format this morning, but I'm interested in your thoughts on what we did yesterday...

Top of the Morning
Source: Giphy

Well, that trade war sure deescalated quickly.

On Sunday shows, Administration officials Peter Navarro and Wilbur Ross said there would not be steel and aluminum tariff exclusions for allies like Canada. On Monday, Trump reiterated the universality via tweet.

But the rules unveiled yesterday include exemptions for both Canada and Mexico, even though the former is by far the largest exporter of steel and aluminum to the U.S. Moreover, other countries can basically pitch the Administration for their own exemptions, as can importers. Lobbyists, start your engines!

  • Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan on Wednesday posted a list of potential Gary Cohn replacements at NEC. Pay particular attention to the name Kevin Warsh.

SXSW: Kia and Sarah Fischer have a curtain-raiser on this year's Austin confab.

Clear vision: Eyeglasses designer and retailer Warby Parker disclosed in a Delaware filing that it's raising up to $75 million in new funding at a step-up to its last round (which was $1.2 billion post-money). Word is that the plan continues to be for an IPO... eventually.

Chip chat: Qualcomm this morning announced that Paul Jacobs — the son of company founder Irwin Jacobs -- is out as executive chairman, but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

  • Jeffrey Henderson has been named regular chairman, as the exec chairman role is being eliminated.
  • Jacobs is the son of Qualcomm's founder, and has been viewed from the outside as an advocate for keeping the company independent. Ironically, the addition of an independent chairman might presage the company agreeing to lose its independence.
  • But, but, but... Qualcomm today extended its tender for NXP Semiconductor at a price that Broadcom has called a deal-breaker.
  • Broadcom sent a letter to U.S. Congresspeople that reads, in part: "Broadcom is committed to making the United States the global leader in 5G. Any notion that a combined Broadcom-Qualcomm would slash funding or cede leadership in 5G is completely unfounded."
Source: Giphy

Royal Dutch Shell and The Blackstone Group are working on a joint $10 billion bid for BHP Billiton’s (LSE: BLT) U.S. shale assets, which are centered in the Permian Basin, according to Sky News. Other bids are expected.

  • Why it's the BFD: Because this reflects how an energy major anticipates future pricing pressures.
  • Bottom line: Shell CEO Ben van Beurden tells Axios that the transition to lower-carbon energy resources is “inevitable,” and that the Paris Climate Agreement could cause peak global demand for oil to come as early as 2025.
Venture Capital Deals

Kujiale, a Chinese home design platform, has raised $100 million in Series D funding. Shunwei Capital led, and was joined by Temasek unit Pavilion Capital and return backers IDG Capital, GGV Capital, Yunqi Partners, Hearst Ventures and Linear Venture.

🚑 Prevail Therapeutics, a gene therapy startup focused on for Parkinson’s disease, has raised $75 million in first-round funding. Founding investor OrbiMed was joined by Pontifax Fund, RA Capital Management, EcoR1 Capital, Omega Funds, BVF Partners, Boxer Capital, Adage Capital Management and Alexandria Venture Investments.

🚑 ViewPoint Therapeutics, a San Francisco-based developer of crystallin stabilizers to prevent and treat cataracts and presbyopia, has raised $35 million in Series B funding. The Rise Fund led, and was joined by Novo Holdings and return backers Biotechnology Value Fund, Mission Bay Capital, Languinita BioScience and the University of Michigan.

🚑 Cyteir Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based developer of therapies that target DNA repair in cancer and autoimmune diseases, has raised $29 million in Series B funding. Venrock led, and was joined by Celgene, Lightstone Ventures and DROIA Oncology Ventures.

Carsome, a Malaysia-based used car platform, has raised $19 million in Series B funding. Burda Principal Investments led, and was joined by return backers Gobi Partners, InnoVen Capital and Lumia Capital.

Interior Define, a Chicago-based custom furniture retailer, has raised $15 million in Series B funding co-led by Pritzker Group Venture Capital and Fifth Wall.

Eight, a New York-based connected mattress maker, has raised $14 million in Series B funding. Khosla Ventures led, and was joined by Y Combinator and Yungi Partners.

Poka, a Quebec-based training and knowledge platform for manufacturers, has raised C$10 million in Series A funding from Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Robert Bosch VC, the Leclerc family and return backers iNovia Capital and Uncork Capital.

🐶 Mad Paws, an Australian dog-walking service (i.e., Wag Down Under), has raised A$5 million in funding led by Qantas.

Private Equity Deals

⛽ Energy Capital Partners has completed its previously-announced buyout of Houston-based power generation Calpine (NYSE: CPN) for $5.6 billion, or $17 billion including debt. Also participating on the buy-side were Access Industries and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

McAfee, a network security company owned by TPG Capital and Intel, has agreed to acquire Canadian VPN provider TunnelBear.

Public Offerings

🚑 BioXcel Therapeutics, a Branford, Conn.-based startup that uses AI to develop neurological and immune-oncology drugs, raised $60 million in its IPO. The company priced5.5 millionset its IPO terms to 5 million shares being offered at $11-$13. It would have a fully-diluted market cap of around $210 million, were it to price in the middle. The pre-revenue company plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker BTAI, with UBS and BMO Capital Markets serving as lead underwriters.

🚑 Hua Medicine, a Chinese drug developer focused on diabetes and CNS disorders, is planning to raise at least $400 million in a Hong Kong IPO, according to Reuters. Shareholders include F-Prime Capital Partners, Harvest Fund Management, TF Capital, Ally Bridger Group and Sail Capital Partners.

Liquidity Events

Boxed, a New York-based bulk-buying site for food and household items, recently rejected a $500 million acquisition offer from grocer Kroger (NYSE: KR), according to Bloomberg. Boxed has raised over $130 million in VC funding from firms like Eniac Ventures, GGV Capital, DST Global and FJ Labs.

More M&A

Denso (Tokyo: 6902), a Japanese auto parts supplier affiliated with Toyota, is buying an additional 4.5% stake in chipmaker Renesas Electronics (Tokyo: 6723) for a market value of around $800 million. The seller is Innovation Network Corp. of Japan.


AE Industrial Partners is raising up to $1 billion for its second aviation-focused private equity fund, per an SEC filing.

Allegion (NYSE: ALLE) has formed a $50 million VC fund focused on Internet-of-things startups.

Center Rock Partners, a lower middle-market private equity firm formed last year by ex-Wynnchurch Capital pros Ian Kirson and Terry Theodore, is raising $450 million for its debut fund, per an SEC filing.

It's Personnel

Mindy Barber is stepping down as a private equity-focused managing director at Harvard Management Co., in order to join Pilot House Associates. She has spent the past six years with HMC, which also recently lost private equity chief Rich Hall.

Cory Johnson has left Bloomberg TV in order to become chief market strategist at crypto company Ripple.

Final Numbers
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Data: SurveyMonkey polls conducted February 12-March 5, 2018Poll Methodology, Bureau of Labor Statistics; Note: December 2016 and 2017 state unemployment values used; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios
  • Thought bubble: Moderate Democrats are stuck. They spent the Obama years yelling about how the economy was doing well, while Republicans closed their eyes and jammed their fingers in their ears. Now that Republicans have decided it's safe to see the obvious, Dems either must agree that the economy is growing under Trump or look like hypocrites. Yeah, the GOP is also being hypocritical, but its current position is the factually correct one.
  • Go deeper and get more data at Axios.
Dan Primack