Jun 16, 2017

Axios Pro Rata

By Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Top of the Morning

Amazon announced this morning that it will acquire physical grocer Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in cash, or $42 per share (27% premium over yesterday's closing price). Some quick notes on what would have been the BFD had it broken a few minutes earlier:

  • The "greedy bastards" won: Just yesterday we mentioned the harsh language that Whole Foods co-founder and CEO John Mackey used toward activist investor Jana Partners, who he felt just want to sell us." Mackey, however, will gets to stay on as CEO and the company will remain headquartered in Austin, Texas.
  • Dominos: Shares of Wal-Mart, Kroger, Costco, Sprout Farmers and Supervalu all got hammered at the open this morning. Also unclear what this means for the much-delayed IPO for Cerberus-backed Albertsons, which had been reportedly interested in making its own Whole Foods bid.
  • Mea culpa: When reporting on a possible Albertsons/Whole Foods tie-up in April, I referred to it as "more plausible than other reports of Amazon wanting to buy Whole Foods."
  • Unicorn angle: This cannot be good news for Instacart, particularly if Amazon begins selling Whole Foods products via Amazon Fresh.
  • Fun fact: Whole Foods spokesperson Brooke Buchanan last led comms for Theranos.

• Speaking of Amazon: Recode reports that the e-commerce (and now grocery) giant plans to invest in a new $500 million venture round for Slack, rather than acquire it. Why would Amazon want a minority equity stake that, even if Slack triples in value, would still add relative peanuts to its massive balance sheet?Probably to better tie Slack to Amazon Web Services.

• Bike-share economics: Chinese bike-sharing company Mobike last night announced that it has raised $600 million in new funding led by Tencent ― which is on top of the $300 million that Mobike raised just a few months back. Return backers include TPG Capital, Sequoia China and Hillhouse Capital. I spoke about the deal with Sequoia China partner Neil Shen, to better understand the unit economics of a company that charges just a single yuan (or around 15 cents) per ride. Here's his argument:

  • Basics: A typical Mobike gets seven rides per day, which works out to seven yuan per day (assuming no subsidies nor additional fees for riding extra distances). That's 2,555 RMB per a 365-day year, while the typical bike costs between 1,000 and 2,000 RMB. In other words, the bike pays for itself within a year.
  • Caveat: None of that, however, includes the cost of bike maintenance or replacement in case of theft (which is common, even though Mobikes come with automated locks). Nor marketing, technology, etc.
  • More from Shen: "All of these different bike-sharing companies have different products. For Mobike, we have GPS, automatic unlock and other features that are clear user experience differentiators."

• LP land: Britt Harris is stepping down as chief investment officer with the $133 billion Texas Teachers' Retirement System, in order to become CEO and chief investment manager at the $40 billion University of Texas Investment Management Co. (UTIMCO), Axios has learned. Neither system returned requests for comment, but UTIMCO has a board vote scheduled for later today where it should be made official.

• Oh Snap: Snap shares closed yesterday at $17 per share, which also is the exact same price at which it went public earlier this year (although it has never actually traded that low).

• Seinfeld stuff: Soupman, a Staten Island-based company that licenses the name and recipes of the real-life inspiration for Seinfeld's Soup Nazi, filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday. Just hours later, New York AG Eric T. Schneiderman announced guilty pleas in a totally unrelated construction fraud case whose investigation code-name was Operation Vandelay Industries. Among the crooks? A purported architect whose last name was Newman.

• Have a great weekend...


Nestlé (Swiss: NESN) said that it is considering "strategic options" that could include the sale of its U.S. confectionary business, which includes such brands as Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, Raisinets and the underappreciated 100 Grand. Not included are Nestlé Toll House baking products nor KitKat, the latter of which is made by Hershey in the U.S. The unit has annual sales of more than $900 million, and could be worth around $3 billion in a sale.

  • Why it's the BFD: This divestiture attempt is reflective both of healthier American snacking habits, and also of Nestlé's own efforts in that direction. In fact, the company's new(ish) CEO is a former healthcare exec.
  • What's not included: Nestle Toll House baking nor KitKat, the latter of which is made by Hershey in the U.S.
  • Big question: Is it still a Nestlé Crunch bar if it's no longer made by Nestlé?
  • Bottom line: "The projected compound annual growth rate for the next five years for both chocolate and sugar confectionery in North America is around 2 percent, according to Euromonitor International. And Nestle's business specifically experienced a decline in the first three months of the year and has lost market share. It only makes sense that it's ready to move on from this market, where margins trail its global average." ― Gillian Tan
Venture Capital Deals

• Scopely, a Los Angeles-based mobile game publisher, has raised $60 million in Series C funding at a valuation north of $600 million. Revolution Growth led the round, and was joined by Greenspring Associates, Sands Capital Ventures, Cross Creek Advisors, and Pritzker Group Venture Capital. http://bit.ly/2s7356K

• Ola, an Indian ride-hail company, reportedly has raised $50 million in new funding from New York-based hedge fund Tekne Capital Management. http://bit.ly/2t8ayAW

• Conviva, a Foster City, Calif.-based video analytics company, has raised $40 million in new VC funding at a reported $300 million valuation from backers like Australia's Future Fund, Foundation Capital and Time Warner Investments. http://tcrn.ch/2ssQWtn

🚑 BeauCare Clinics, a Beijing-based cosmetic surgery clinic chain, has raised $29 million in Series B funding led by GP Capital. http://bit.ly/2synMtI

🚑 Checkmate Pharmaceuticals, a Cambridge, Mass.-based cancer immunotherapy company, has raised $27 million in Series B funding. F-Prime Capital Partners led the round, and was joined by return backers Sofinnova Ventures and VenBio Partners. http://bit.ly/2sEFTOs

🚑 Twist Bioscience, a San Francisco-based startup focused on synthetic DNA, has raised $27 million in new fifth-round funding (bringing the round total to $60m). Biomatics Capital led the new infusion, and was joined by Reinet Fund, F.I.S., NFT Investment Ltd., Kangmei Group, Bay City Capital GF Xinde Life Science Investment Fund, 3W Partners Capital and Ditch Plains Capital Management. http://bit.ly/2syDsxd

• Entelo, a San Francisco-based recruiting software company, has raised $20 million in Series C funding. U.S. Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by Battery Ventures, Shasta Ventures and Correlation Ventures. http://tcrn.ch/2sg4Ixu

🚑 Ocugen, a Malvern, Penn.-based developer of treatments for sight-threatening diseases, has raised $7.5 million in Series B funding. Turkish drug company Abdi Ibrahim led the round, and was joined by Kazakhstan-based JSC Lancaster Group. http://bit.ly/2rBNgl6

🚑 Cybrexa Therapeutics, a New Haven, Conn.-based cancer therapeutics startup, has raised $6 million in Series B funding from HighCape Partners, Connecticut Innovations and individual angels. www.cybrexa.com

• Covr Financial Technologies, a Boise, Idaho-based digital personal insurance platform, has raised $5 million in VC funding from Nyca Partners, Commerce Ventures, Connectivity Capital Partners and Contour Venture Partners. http://bit.ly/2t8hs9m

• Bright Greens, a Rockville, Md.-based frozen smoothie company, has raised $2 million in seed funding. Eighteen94 Capital (unit of Kellogg Co.) led the round, and was joined by Blue Venture Investors. http://for.tn/2rxdUjI

• Codota, an Israeli-based provider of workflow optimization solutions for developer communities, has raised $2 million in seed funding from Khosla Ventures. http://tcrn.ch/2s5lz7K

• Dingxiang Technology, a Beijing-based cybersecurity startup focused on risk control systems, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital China. http://bit.ly/2sGeA64

• Grab, a ride-hail company focused on Southeast Asia, is in talks to have Alibaba participate in a new $1.4 billion funding round that will be led by SoftBank, according to Bloomberg. https://bloom.bg/2ry6oFm

Private Equity Deals

• Capita (LSE: CPI), a British outsourcing firm, is expecting final takeover offers from Australian financial services firm Link Group and private equity shops GTCR and CVC Capital Partners, per Reuters. The deal could garner upwards of £800 million, with Goldman Sachs managing the process. http://reut.rs/2sGFeMp

• Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) has agreed to acquire Bonobos, a New York-based men's clothing retailer, for $310 million in cash. Bonobos has raised pver $120 million in VC funding, from firms like Felicis Ventures, Accel, Forerunner Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Nordstrom.

• Warburg Pincus has agreed to acquire Duravent, a Downers Grove, Ill.-based automation and engineered equipment company focused on the food processing, packaging and material handling sectors, from Odyssey Investment Partners. No financial terms were disclosed. www.warburgpincus.com

Public Offerings

• Tintri, a Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of VM-aware storage for virtualization and cloud environments, has set its IPO terms to 8.7 million shares being offered at between $10.50 and $12.50 per share. It would have an initial market cap of around $357 million, were it to price in the middle of its ranger. The company plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol TNTR, with Morgan Stanley listed as left lead underwriter. Tintri reports a $106 million net loss on $125 million in revenue for fiscal 2016 (ending 1/31/17), compared to a $101 million net loss on $86 million in revenue for fiscal 2015. Shareholders include NEA (22.7% pre-IPO stake), Silver Lake Kraftwerk (20.4%), Insight Venture Partners (20.2%), Lightspeed Ventures (14.5%) and Menlo Ventures. www.tintri.com

Liquidity Events

⛽ Arsenal Capital Partners has completed its previously-announced sale of Flowchem, a Waller, Texas-based maker of pipeline performance products, to KMG (NYSE: KMG) for $495 million in cash. http://on.mktw.net/2q8iccl

⛽ BP Energy Partners, an investment group backed by T. Boone Pickens, is seeking to sell Houston-based portfolio company Pinnacle Midstream for at least $300 million, according to Reuters. http://reut.rs/2rD4luM

⛽ Macquarie Group is preparing to sell its 42% stake in the parent company of Washington state utility Puget Energy, which could be valued at around $2 billion, according to Bloomberg. https://bloom.bg/2sFPgx2

• The Riverside Company has sold The Rutland Group, a Pineville, N.C.-based manufacturer of specialty inks and plastisol coatings, to PolyOne (NYSE: POL). No financial terms were disclosed. www.rutlandinc.com

• Permira is seeking to sell its 61.3% stake in Israeli irrigation firm Netafim at a minimum enterprise value of $1.5 billion, according to Calcalist. Goldman Sachs is managing the process, which received first-round bids from Mexichem, Fortive Corp., Temasek, Stanley Black & Decker, Primavera Capital and Ningxia Qinglong. http://reut.rs/2ry0lQZ

• Tencent is considering a takeover of Angry Birds maker Rovio for around $3 billion, according to The Information. Rovio, backed by $42 million in VC funding from firms like Accel, declined to comment on the report, instead saying that it is considering an IPO. http://bit.ly/2sAlyKu

More M&A

• DuPont (NYSE: DD) and Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW) have received U.S. antirust approval for their $130 billion all-stock merger, with certain divestiture conditions. http://reut.rs/2s8n98T

• ILG (Nasdaq: ILG), a Miami, Fla.-based timeshare properties company with a market cap of around $3.5 billion, is holding preliminary talks about selling the company to a rival, according to Reuters. The move follows activist pressure from FrontFour Capital Group, with Moelis & Co. managing the process. http://reut.rs/2rxGIZH


• Hardware Club, a networked community of hardware startups, has raised $28 million to back companies that come out of its platform. http://bit.ly/2stDkhJ

It's Personnel

• Alda Leu Dennis has joined venture firm Initialized Capital as a partner and chief operating officer. She previously was COO of Airtime and, before that, was general counsel and Founders Fund. http://tcrn.ch/2t6XGLe

• Andrew Huang has joined China-focused private equity firm FountainVest Partners as a managing director. He previously led China M&A at Goldman Sachs. http://bit.ly/2rD9H9e

• Anisha Malhotra has joined GPB Capital as a managing director and head of capital markets. She previously was in the debt underwriting group of Goldman Sachs. www.gpb-cap.com

• Astasia Myers has left Cisco Investments to join Redpoint Ventures. www.redpoint.com

Final Numbers: Bitcoin value & volume
Dan Primack