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Feb 23, 2017

Axios Pro Rata

Greetings from the home office, where school vacation week is highly evident. Just a quick reminder to shoot me scoop by hitting reply to this email, or by using http://axios.com/tips (or Telegram, Confide, Signal, etc). Let's get to it...

Top of the Morning

• Robot elephant in the room: A group of 24 manufacturing CEOs is visiting the White House this morning, to work with VP Pence and various cabinet secretaries on policy ideas that will then be presented to President Trump. Per Sean Spicer during yesterday's press briefing, the workings groups will cover: "Deregulation, tax and trade, training and the workforce of the future and infrastructure."

It seems like there are two big things missing:

  1. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is not among the participants, with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross serving as cabinet rep on the "workforce of the future" group. Retraining of current working-age adults is clearly an important short-term issue, but shouldn't there be equal (if not greater) concern about the next generation? And, if so, shouldn't the Ed Sec (no matter your thoughts on her) be present?
  2. Any explicit mention of automation. Perhaps this is in the "workforce of the future" session, but there are no technologists or futurists invited (let alone labor reps). Trump talks a lot about America's loss of manufacturing jobs, but never about how American manufacturing output is actually at an all-time high. Or, put another way, the invited CEOs are making more with fewer workers. Consider U.S. manufacturing to be like a tricycle: Taxes/trade policy and regulation are the two small wheels in the back. Integral, but not nearly so much as the big wheel (automation) in the front.

• More politics: Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan report that Republicans may push off that massive infrastructure package until 2018, in part to put Democrats in an electoral bind. If true, that also would complicate things for many private equity infrastructure firms that had been planning on what, per early proposals, looks like a massive gift to private market infrastructure investors.

• Snap stuff: A few notes, as the mega-corn's IPO roadshow today hits Boston's Four Seasons hotel.

  • There will be an enormous amount of attention paid to Snap's IPO price and where the stock closes on its first day of trading (pop, dip, etc.). But the much more important day will be Monday, July 31, since that will be the first day of trading when the lockup expires for most of Snap's current shareholders (both investors and vested employees).
  • One big thing to watch will be how many of Snap's existing "crossover" investor ― e.g., Fidelity, Coatue and T. Rowe Price ― purchase additional shares in the IPO. For years we've heard an argument that these sorts of firms have been making such private-market investments, in part, as IPO optionality. In other words, having an existing relationship with the issuer should improve a crossover investor's chances of getting its desired IPO allocation. So do these firms exercise those (informal) options?
  • An addendum to both above notes: Crossover investors often pitch themselves to startups as long-term investors who will stick around long after the more traditional VCs have exited. So we've got to keep a particular eye on them come July 31.

• Oh Snap (no, the other one): Hundreds of layoffs coming at Snapdeal, the Indian e-commerce company that has been valued north of $6 billion by investors like BlackRock and SoftBank. The company's revenue climbed 56% in its last fiscal year, but losses more than doubled. More here.

• Notable quotable: Activist investor Jeff Ubben, whose $16 billion firm ValueAct has a $2.4 billion stake in Microsoft, has been pulling money out of the markets due to high valuations, per Reuters. He says: "I really feel that the large-cap activist plays are very treacherous with high PEs and not a lot of growth," adding "everything about Trump I think is inflationary."

• Hmmmm: Private equity firm GTCR this morning announced the addition of Jim Bonetti, who previously was with Morgan Stanley as a managing director and co-head of North American leveraged and acquisition finance. His role will be as head of capital markets, but the firm is declining to clarify what that means. Could GTCR be planning to launch a lending business?

• Legacy technology: The French military is worried about terrorists using drones. Its solution? Drone-destroying eagles.

The BFD: SingTel buys Turn

Amobee, a Foster City, Calif.-based unit of SingTel, has agreed to acquire Turn, a Redwood City, Calif.-demand-side platform for digital advertising, for $310 million.

Why it's the BFD: Because it's a big disappointment for many of Turn's later-stage investors, who backed a Series E round in 2014 at a post-money valuation north of $700 million. Participants in that deal included Fidelity, BlackRock, ClearBridge Investments, Firsthand Technology Value Fund, Northport Investment Management, Pine River Capital Management, Focus Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Shasta Ventures, Western Technology and Trident Capital. There also had been talk about an IPO a couple years back. The Series D post-money was around $164 million in 2011, per PitchBook.

Bottom line: "Turn went through a big transition in 2015 after a period of trying to move to a software as a service (SaaS) revenue model that only serviced brands, not agencies. That didn't work out so well and the company brought on a new CEO, Bruce Falck, the former COO of Yahoo's BrighRoll, to help it pivot back." ― Lara O'Reilly

Venture Capital Deals

• PMV Pharma, a Redwood City, Calif.-based developer of small-molecule cancer drugs, has raised $74 million in Series B funding. Topspin Biotech Fund led the round, and was joined by InterWest Partners, Osage University Partners and return backer OrbiMed Advisors. http://bit.ly/2l1RCP1

• Shinezone, a Chinese mobile and online game developer, has raised around $58 million in Series B funding. Backers include China Fortune Securities, Bank of Ningbo, Shanshan Venture Capital, Jiuyou Fund, Nord Engine Capital and HTVC. The company also says it is planning an A-share listing in China. http://bit.ly/2ltMhU9

• Tala, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based provider of mobile micro-loan solutions, has raised $30 million in Series B funding. Institutional Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by Ribbit Capital and return backers Lowercase Capital, Data Collective, Collaborative Fund and Female Founders Fund. http://bit.ly/2mbdv3g

• Anxin Doctor, a Beijing-based healthcare booking service for women and children, has raised around $28 million in Series B funding. Backers include Matrix Partners China, Qiming Venture Partners and IDG Capital. http://bit.ly/2lca9sP

• AirMap, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based airspace management platform for drones, has raised $26 million in Series B funding. Microsoft Ventures led the round, and was joined by Airbus Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Rakuten, Sony, Yuneec and return backers General Catalyst Partners and Lux Capital. http://tcrn.ch/2cGocYq

• Knotel, a New York-based operator of "custom headquarters" working spaces, has raised $25 million in Series A funding. Backers include Bloomberg Beta, Invest AG, Joseph Meyer of Observer Capital, Rocket Internet and 500 Startups. http://bit.ly/2mlaYjo

• Prospa, an Australian online small business lender, has raised A$25 million in Series B funding led by AirTree Ventures at a A$235 million valuation. http://zd.net/2l3aRHR

• Oncternal Therapeutics, a San Diego-based developer of therapies for both rare and common malignancies, has raised $18.4 million in Series B funding from undisclosed investors. www.oncternal.com

• Diamanti, a San Jose, Calif.-based developer of "hyper-converged infrastructure appliance purpose-built for containerized applications," has raised $18 million in Series B funding. Northgate Capital led the round, and was joined by CRV, DFJ, Translink and GSR Ventures. http://bit.ly/2mfri5I

• C3Nano, a Hayward, Calif.-based provider of transparent conductive inks and films for the touch sensor and display industry, has raised $15 million in new equity funding. GSR Ventures led the round, and was joined by Nissha Printing Co., Xinjiang Guoli Minsheng Equity Investment and Phoenix Venture Partners. http://bit.ly/2lIQi7G

• Getaway, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based designer and operator of "tiny house" rentals, has raised $15 million in growth equity funding from L Catterton. www.getaway.house

• SlamData, a Boulder, Colo.-based provider of open source analytics for unstructured data, has raised $6.7 million in Series A funding led by Shasta Ventures. http://dpo.st/2lccVyo

• Bowery Farming, an indoor-farming technology startup, has raised $6.3 million in VC funding. First Round Capital led the round, and was joined by Box Group, Lerer Hippeau Ventures and chef Tom Colicchio. http://tcrn.ch/2l3o3wy

• TL Biolabs, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based ag-tech startup, has raised $4 million in new VC funding. Andreesen Horowitz led the round, and was joined by Refactor Capital, Y Combinator and Josh Buckley. www.tlbiolabs.com

• Earin, a wireless earbuds maker, has raised $3.5 million in new VC funding from undisclosed investors. http://tcrn.ch/2mdAibA

• Storj Labs, an Atlanta-based distributed cloud storage provider, has raised $3 million in seed funding from firms like Google Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures and Techstars. www.storj.io

• Printerous, an Indonesian digital printing startup, has raised $1.4 million in VC funding. Golden Gate Ventures led the round, and was joined by Sovereign Capital and Gunung Sewu Kencana. http://tcrn.ch/2kPJQwB

Private Equity Deals

• Jansy Packaging, a Fort Lee, N.J.-based portfolio company of Eureka Growth Capital, has acquired Cogent Partners, a Pomona, Calif.-based distributor of packaging products and services. No financial terms were disclosed. www.jansypkg.com

• Saba Software, as SaaS-based talent management company owned by Vector Capital, has agreed to acquire Halogen Software (TSX: HGN), a provider of cloud-based performance management solutions, for around C$293 million in cash. http://reut.rs/2lyZidG

• Suez Environnement (Paris: SEVI) said that it is considering a second-round bid for General Electric's (NYSE: GE) industrial water treatment business, which generates between $250 million and $300 million in EBITDA. Private equity firms also reportedly are involved. http://reut.rs/2moFWqF

• Tennant Co. (NYSE: TNC) and private equity firm Ambienta have partnered to acquire IPC Group, an Italian maker of commercial cleaning solutions, for approximately $350 million in cash. www.ipcleaning.com

Liquidity Events

• Carter's Inc. (NYSE: CRI) has acquired Skip Hop, a New York-based "lifestyle brand for families with young children," from Fireman Capital Partners. The deal is valued at around $140 million in cash. http://reut.rs/2ltQKGf

• Macquarie Infrastructure and Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan are considering a sale process for Brussels airport, in which they hold a combined 75% ownership stake, according to Reuters. http://reut.rs/2lc6Y4s

• STG Group (OTC: STGG) has agreed to acquire Preferred Systems Solutions, a McLean, Va.-based provider of software solutions to government agencies, from CM Equity Partners for approximately $119 million. http://bit.ly/2mb7Ryk

• Wix.com (Nasdaq: WIX) has acquired online artists community DeviantArt for $36 million in cash. Los Angeles-based DeviantArt had raised over $13 million in VC funding from backers like Autodesk and Travis Kalanick. http://tcrn.ch/2lceegN

More M&A

• Bharti Airtel, India's largest telecom network operator, has agreed to acquire the India business of Norway's Telenor. http://bit.ly/2lyR6tP

• Broadcom (Nasdaq: AVGO) has agreed to sell Ruckus Wireless, which it acquired via last year's $5.9 billion purchase of Brocade, to Arris Technology (Nasdaq: ARRS) for $800 million. Also involved in the deal will be Broadcom's ICX Switch business. http://bit.ly/2kQ4Inf

• Kindred Group (f.k.a. Unibet), a Swedish online gaming company, has agreed to acquire British rival 32Red (LSE AIM: TTR) for approximately $219 million. http://bloom.bg/2manfLo

• Saudi Aramco is the frontrunner to acquire Turkish gas station business Petrol Ofisi, which generated around €10 billion in 2016 sales, from Austria's OMV, according to Reuters. http://reut.rs/2mb33sF

• Sky PLC (LSE: SKY) said that it may terminate its US$930 million agreement to acquire the New Zealand unit of Vodafone (LSE: VOD), after the proposal was rejected by New Zealand regulators on anti-competitive grounds. http://reut.rs/2lIZrwU


• The Carlyle Group has closed its fourth global distressed and special situations fund with around $2.5 billion in capital commitments. www.carlyle.com

• EQT Partners has closed its third private equity infrastructure fund with €4 billion in capital commitments. www.eqt.se

• K2 Global has launched a $183 million VC funding for a new VC fund focused on early-stage companies seeking to expand globally. http://tcrn.ch/2ltM8A8

Human Resources

• Spencer Bogart has left Needham & Co., where he was a VP of equity research, to join Blockchain Capital as a managing director and head of research. www.blockchain.capital

• Jay Galluzzo, co-founder and former CEO of Flywheel Sports, has joined private equity firm North Castle Partners as a managing director. www.northcastlepartners.com

• Jeff Legault has joined DLA Piper as a private equity-focused partner in the law firm's New York office. He previously was with Mayer Brown. www.dlapiper.com

Peter Zimmerman has joined private equity firm ShoreView Industries as a principal. He previously was with Sentinel Capital Partners. www.shoreview.com

Final Numbers