"What the hell?"
That was the opening question yesterday at Upfront Summit for SoftBank Vision Fund's Lydia Jett and Colin Fann, for a packed afternoon session that brought outdoors networking and email checking to a halt.
Jett and Fann argued that too much is being made of SVF's $100 billion size, and too little of the "vision" part. More specifically, SoftBank CEO Masa Son's belief that the world is in a rare technological inflection point, and that large deal sizes are justifiable if you're thinking well beyond a 10-year investment horizon.
• Romney raise: Solamere Capital, the Boston-based private equity shop co-founded by Tagg Romney (and chaired by dad Mitt), disclosed in SEC filings that its in the midst of raising its third fund.
• Data break: U.S. worker productivity fell in Q4.
• PE earnings: Apollo Global Management and The Blackstone Group this morning both beat analyst estimates for Q4 earnings, and are up slightly in early trading.
• Actress acceleration: Hamet Watt, a serial entrepreneur (MoviePass, bLife) and board partner at Upfront Ventures, is launching a new startup foundry in Los Angeles called Share Ventures. Its first company is a stealthy effort co-founded by the foundry and actress Halle Berry, who yesterday told Upfront Summit that "the next evolution for me is becoming an entrepreneur."
CBS Corp.'s (NYSE: CBS) board today is expected to discuss a merger with Viacom (Nasdaq: VIAB), setting the stage for a possible reunion between two companies that were split apart in 2005 by Sumner Redstone.
• Trifacta, a San Francisco-based “data wrangling” startup, has raised $48 million in Series D funding from Google, Ericsson, the Deutsche Borse and Accel. http://axios.link/ZY0s
• Caffeine, a new social broadcasting platform (i.e., Twitch rival), has raised $46 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz and Greylock Partners. http://axios.link/itU8
• Bespin Global, a cloud management company with dual headquarters in China and South Korea, has raised $27 million in new funding. ST Telemedia led, and was joined by return backer Legend Capital. http://axios.link/hNB1
• Organica Water, a Hong Kong-based provider of wastewater recycling solutions, has raised $21 million in Series D funding led by CITIC Capital Silk Road Fund. www.organicawater.com
• Igneous Systems, a Seattle-based hybrid cloud backup and archive solution for unstructured data, has raised $15 million in Series B funding co-led by Vulcan Capital and Orca Bay Capital. www.igneous.io
• Joymode, a Los Angeles-based item rental subscription service, has raised $14 million in Series A funding. Naspers led, and was joined by seed backer Homebrew. http://axios.link/5sz9
• Astound, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based developer of AI-driven automation solutions, has raised $11.5 million in Series A funding. Vertex Ventures and Pelion Venture Partners co-led, and were joined by The Hive, Slack Fund and Moment Ventures. www.astound.ai
• Juniper Square, a San Francisco-based real estate investment management platform, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Felicis Ventures. http://axios.link/c2KC
• Pulse Labs, a Seattle-based provider of voice app interaction analytics for brands, has raised $2.5 million in new funding. Madrona Venture Group led, and was joined by Amazon Alexa Fund, Bezos Expeditions and Techstars Ventures. www.pulselabs.ai
• AEA Investors has acquired Spectrum Plastics Group, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based plastics manufacturer, from Kohlberg & Co. www.spectrumplastics.com
• Battery Ventures has completed its previously-announced purchase of PageUp, an Australian maker of enterprise talent management software, from Accel-KKR. www.pageup.com
• Clayton, Dubilier & Rice has agreed to acquire Ply Gem (NYSE: PGEM), a Cary, N.C.-based building products manufacturer, for around $2.4 billion, or $21.64 per share (20% premium over Tuesday’s closing price). CD&R also will purchase a 70% stake in Atrium Windows & Doors from Golden Gate Capital (which will retain 30%), and then merge Atrium with Ply Gem. http://axios.link/oVry
• Falfurrias Capital Partners has invested in E-Technologies Group, a West Chester, Ohio-based provider of software and automation systems integration and engineering design services. www.etech-group.com
• Liquid Web, a Lansing, Mich.-based portfolio company of Madison Dearborn Partners, has acquired iThemes, an Oklahoma City-based maker of WordPress plugins. www.liquidweb.com
• Lovell Minnick Partners has completed its previously-announced acquisition of Tortoise Investments, an asset and income investment firm with $20.2 billion in AUM. www.tortoiseinvest.com
• Prospect Partners has acquired Minuteman Security Technologies, an Andover, Mass.-based provider of electronic security technology solutions for businesses. www.minutemanst.com
• Royo Group, a Spanish backroom products company owned by H.I.G. Capital, has acquired Fiora Bath Collections, a Spain-based maker of resin shower trays. http://axios.link/PSHp
⛽ Stallion Oilfield Services, a Houston-based portfolio company of The Carlyle Group and The Riverside Co., has acquired the assets of AI’s Water Service, a Washington, Penn.-based provider of potable water transportation and services to the oil, gas and mining industries. www.stallionoilfield.com
• Adaptive Insights, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based maker of cloud-based financial management software, has hired Morgan Stanley to lead an IPO, according to Reuters. Adaptive Insights has raised around $175 million in VC funding from firms like JMI Equity, Norwest Venture Partners, ONSET Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Cardinal Venture Capital, Monitor Ventures and Information Venture Partners. http://axios.link/XtHw
• CVC Capital Partners has hired Morgan Stanley and UBS to lead a London IPO for antivirus software business Avast Software, according to Reuters. http://axios.link/xLEQ
🚑 Sol-Gel Technologies, an Israel-based developer of topical drug products for the treatment of skin diseases, raised $75 million in its IPO. The pre-revenue company priced 6.25 million shares at $12, compared to original plans to offer 6.25 million shares at $11-$13. It will trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol SLGL, while Jefferies and BMO Capital Markets serving as co-lead underwriters. www.sol-gel.com
• VICI Properties, a REIT that leases properties to Caesars Entertainment, raised $1.2 billion in its IPO. The company priced 60.5 million shares at $20, compared to original plans to offer 50 million shares at $19-$21. It has an initial market cap of $7.2 billion, and will trade on the NYSE under VICI. Morgan Stanley served as lead underwriter.
• Leonard Green & Partners has sold Tourneau, a New York-based luxury watch retailer, to Switzerland’s Bucherer. http://axios.link/uIAN
• Opengate Capital is seeking a buyer for French plastic compounder Nakan, which could fetch around 350 million, according to Bloomberg. http://axios.link/o4nb
• Sun Capital Partners has hired Rothschild to find a buyer for German packaging group Coveris Rigid, which could be valued at between €640 million and €720 million, per Reuters. http://axios.link/LBBD
• Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) is acquiring a 33% stake in its $60 billion fintech affiliate Ant Financial. http://axios.link/PzkQ
Bertelsmann is seeking a buyer for customer relationship management unit Arvato ARM, according to Reuters. http://axios.link/KK1h
• Brookfield Asset Management is in talks to acquire Forest City Realty Trust (NYSE: FCE), a Cleveland-based REIT with a market cap north of $6 billion, according to Bloomberg. http://axios.link/89J7
• Heilan Home Co., a Shanghai-listed menswear company, is raising around $1.59 billion from an investor group that includes Tencent, JD.com and Vipshop, according to Reuters. Around half the capital will be used to create a strategic investment fund. http://axios.link/LIHz
• Meredith Corp. (NYSE: MDP) has completed its $2.8 billion acquisition of magazine publisher Time Inc.
🚑 Seattle Genetics (Nasdaq: SGEN) has agreed to acquire breast cancer drug maker Cascadian Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CASC) for $614 million in cash, or $10 per share (69% premium to Tuesday’s closing price). http://axios.link/bl1X
• TDC of Denmark has agreed to acquire the broadcasting and entertainment business of Swedish Modern Times Group for around $2.5 billion in cash and stock. http://axios.link/TD5T
🍦 Unilever has agreed to acquire Romanian ice cream brand Betty Ice. http://axios.link/vEtp
• Jeff Immelt, former CEO of General Electric, has joined venture firm NEA as a venture partner. www.nea.com
• Gridiron Capital has promoted Kevin Jackson to managing partner. www.gridironcapital.com
• Ridgemont Equity Partners has promoted Matt Ibbetson and Kelly Lineberger to principal. www.ridgemontep.com
• Paul Willard has joined Storm Ventures as a partner. He previously was a partner at Subtraction Capital and, before that, was CMO of both Practice Fusion and Atlassian. www.stormventures.com