May 16, 2017

Axios Pro Rata

By Dan Primack
Dan Primack

Greetings from New York City, where later this morning I'll be interviewing Mark Cuban at a Lerer Hippeau event (send any last-minute questions my way). And if you're in town for TechCrunch Disrupt, be sure to check out Axios co-founder Mike Allen at 4:50pm. Okay, here we go...

Top of the Morning

• All the I's are dotted: Back in March we reported that Google Ventures founder Bill Maris was launching his own venture capital firm, called Section 32, after a late 2016 hiccup. Today Maris will announce that he has closed his debut fund with $150 million in capital commitments (compared to an initial $100m target). Expect it to be fairly agnostic in terms of stage, sector and geography. Two notes:

  • Maris has a well-known interest in the intersection between biotech and computing, but also is wary of how "super trendy" the space has become among VCs. In other words, the supply/demand balance may have flipped a bit too hard.
  • Section 32 is a Star Trek reference, although Maris has no plans to seek out teleportation startups (you know, the thing that would make self-driving cars obsolete). But he does add this: "Science fiction for me isn't escapism, it's optimism."

• Building bridges: U.S. Transportation Sec. Elaine Chao yesterday said that the White House's infrastructure plan will be released within the next few weeks, and that she expects Congress to take it up in Q3. It still sounds like the primary pillars will be public-private partnerships and cutting permitting regulations, and that Trump is now willing to let this leapfrog both healthcare and tax reform, if necessary.

• Speaking of infrastructure: Forbes' Antoine Gara has written a fascinating profile of Brookfield Asset Management's Bruce Flatt. Some context, from Gara:

"Brookfield owns 218 hydroelectric plants on 82 river systems in North and South America. In France, Brookfield has the largest independent owner of cell towers. In Chile its electric power lines serve 98% of the population. In Ireland it owns 20% of the country's wind-farm capacity. It owns 36 ports in the U.K., North America, Australia and Europe, and in India and South America it manages 3,600 kilometers of toll roads. All told, Brookfield has 2,000 projects across 30 countries on five continents, encompassing $250 billion in assets and 70,000 employees. President Trump talks about an infrastructure plan--Bruce Flatt is actually executing one."

• Coming attractions: AngelList founder and CEO Naval Ravikant will take the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt tomorrow, where he will announce the launch of Angel Funds, which is essentially an expansion of the popular "Syndicates" product.

  • What is it? Angel Funds will allow individual angels to raise pools of capital from investors, rather than rely on a deal-by-deal approval process, thus speeding up their check-writing abilities. AngelList also will take care of legal and admin work for such funds in exchange for a set fee, while fund managers will be allowed to set the management fee and carry terms (although most managers are expected to use 0/20).
  • Other announcement: Maiden Lane has raised $35 million for its second fund, with plans to back many of these new Angel Funds. The San Francisco-based group was originally formed as a partnership between AngelList and Boston-based VC firm Accomplice, to back both AngelList syndicates and make direct investments in deals on the AngelList platform.

Yertle Valley: Evernote CEO Phil Libin yesterday announced the launch of a new "startup studio" called All Turtles. That also mans that Libin is stepping down as a managing director with venture firm General Catalyst ― which is backing All Turtles, alongside Digital Garage ― although he will maintain portfolio responsibilities and continue to serve as a senior advisor.

General Catalyst has no plans to replace Libin in its managing director ranks, at least in the short-term. The firm did, however, say this morning that former Demandware CEO Tom Ebling has signed on as an "XIR."

For your earbuds: Last month I interviewed Marc Andreessen at his VC firm's Tech Policy Summit in D.C., with a particular focus on the pace of technological change (spoiler: he thinks it's actually moving too slowly). Plus an official answer on why he stopped tweeting. You can now listen to the audio by going here.


GTCR has announced a "strategic investment" in Vivid Seats, a Chicago-based online secondary ticket marketplace, from Vista Equity Partners. Our understanding is that GTCR is purchasing a majority stake from Vista, which will retain a minority ownership position. No financial terms were disclosed, although reports from earlier this year said that Vista had hired Morgan Stanley to find a buyer for Vivid Seats at an enterprise value of around $1.5 billion.

  • Why it's the BFD: 16 year-old Vivid has gained traction over the past year, by inking deals like one that made it the official ticketing partner of ESPN (replacing StubHub). A big question, however, has been the depths of its pockets, and adding a big new private equity backer like GTCR should help lighten some of those concerns. Plus, I really wanted to figure out some way to get Celtics/Cavs into today's Pro Rata.
  • Bottom line: "Vivid Seats might not have the same name recognition as Ticketmaster or StubHub, but the Chicago-based firm has been a force in selling seats at concerts, theaters and sports events. Founded in 2001, the company had grown to become the third-largest secondary ticket seller in the U.S. by the time it received its strategic investment from Vista early last year." ― Katie Roof, TechCrunch
Venture Capital Deals

• Symphony Communication Services, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based messaging system for financial firms, has raised $63 million in new VC funding led by BNP Paribas. Existing backers include Google, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

• Genoa Pharmaceuticals, a Seattle-based developer of therapies for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, has raised $62 million in Series A funding. F-Prime Capital Partners and Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners co-led the round, and were joined by Novo AS, RiverVest Venture Partners and TPG Biotech.

• LevelUp, a Boston-based mobile payment network, has raised $50 million in new VC funding from JPMorgan Chase, US Boston and CentroCredit Bank. Existing backers include GV and Highland Capital Partners.

• OpenGov, a Redwood City, Calif.-based provider of government performance management technology, has raised $30 million in Series C funding led by Emerson Collective. Existing backers include Andreessen Horowitz, 8VC and Thrive Capital.

• BiomX, an Israel-based developer of microbiome therapeutics, has raised $24 million in Series A funding from OrbiMed, Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Takeda Ventures.

• Mode, a San Francisco-based collaborative analytics platform, has raised $13 million in Series B funding. REV Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by return backers Foundation Capital and Goldcrest.

• Aira, a La Jolla, Calif.-based maker of wearable assistive products for visually impaired and low-vision people, has raised $12 million in Series B funding. Jazz Venture Partners and Arboretum Ventures co-led the round, and were joined by return backers Lux Capital, ARCH Venture Partners and Felicis Ventures.

• WinView, a Redwood City, Calif.-based live TV sports prediction platform, has raised $12 million in Series B funding from Graham Holdings, Discovery Communications, Monumental Sports & Entertainment and LionTree Partners.

• Mintigo, a San Mateo, Calif.-based predictive marketing and sales platform, has raised $10 million in VC funding. Gilot Capital led the round, and was joined by Sequoia Capital IL, Adams Street Partners, Giza Venture Capital, Maverick Ventures, and Vintage Investment Partners.

• Terminus, an Atlanta-based B2B account marketing platform, has raised $10 million in Series B funding. Edison Ventures led the round, and was joined by Atlanta Ventures.

•, France-based online marketplace that connects engineers with tech companies, has raised €8 million in VC funding from return backers Alven Capital and Ventech.

• Oddup, a Hong Kong-based startup investing research platform, has raised $6 million in Series A funding. The Times Group of India led the round, and was joined by 500Startups and Click Ventures.

• Invenia, a Canadian developer of a machine learning platform to optimize power grids and reduce emissions, has raised US$5 million in Series A funding led by Zetta Venture Partners.

• Grand Canals, a Los Gatos, Calif.-based provider of retail and ecommerce fulfillment solutions, has raised $4.8 million in Series A funding co-led by Cloud Apps Capital Partners and AllMobile Fund.

• OpenInvest, a San Francisco-based "social impact investing platform for retail investors," has raised $3.25 million in seed funding led by Andreessen Horowitz.

•, a San Franisco-based cross-boerder ecommerce app, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series F funding. Everbright-IDG Industrial Fund led the round, and was joined by Temasek, DST Global, Third Point Ventures and Founders Fund. Reports from last fall suggested that this round could value the company at around $3.5 billion.

Private Equity Deals

• Apollo Global Management reportedly approached the board of Australia's Fairfax Media (ASX: FXJ), with interest in purchasing the regional newspapers that were not included in the original TPG-led bid. TPG subsequently offered to purchase all of Fairfax for A$2.76 billion.

• Battery Ventures has acquired Concurrent Real-Time, a provider of server and embedded apps, from Concurrent Computer (Nasdaq: CCUR) for $35 million.

• L Squared Capital Partners and Longview Asset Management have recapitalized Oracle Elevator, a Dover Plains, N.Y.-based provider of elevator maintenance, repair, and modernization services. No financial terms were disclosed.

• Macquarie Group's infrastructure unit has hired Credit Suisse to advise on a possible bid for a A$3.5 billion Australian shopping center platform owned by The Blackstone Group, according to The Australian.

• The Stephens Group has acquired Pearlman Enterprises, a Norcross, Ga.-based provider of supplies, tools, and equipment used in the fabrication and maintenance of hard surfaces. No financial terms were disclosed.

• TPG Capital and Dragoneer Investment Group jointly disclosed an 8% equity stake in Etsy (Nasdaq: ETSY), with TPG saying that it "has contacted representatives of Etsy to offer to engage in discussions regarding strategic alternatives."

Public Offerings

• Four companies are expected to price IPOs on U.S. exchanges this week: Bright Scholar Education, G1 Therapeutics, Argenx and Accelerated Pharma.

• Ant Financial, the $60 billion payments unit of Alibaba Group (NYSE: BABA), has delayed its anticipated IPO until 2018 at the earliest, per the FT.

• WideOpenWest, the country's sixth-largest cable operator, has set its IPO terms to 19 million shares being offered at between $20 and $22 per share. It would have an initial market cap of around $1.8 billion, were it to price in the middle of its range. The company plans to trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol WOW, with UBS listed as left lead underwriter. WideOpenWest reports $26.3 million of earnings for 2016, compared to net losses in both 2014 and 2015. Its 2016 revenue was around $1.24 billion, up slightly from $1.22 billion the year earlier. Shareholders include Crestview Partners and Avista Capital Partners.

Liquidity Events

• MBK Partners has sold a 5% stake in Coway, a listed South Korean water purifier maker and rental company, which lowers its ownership position to 26.5%.

• VMWare has acquired Apteligent, a San Francisco-based provider of mobile app development tools, for an undisclosed amount. Apteligent had raised over $55 million in VC funding from VMWare, InterWest Partners, Shasta Ventures, Scale Venture Partners and Accenture.

More M&A

GIC, a Singapore sovereign wealth fund, is offering a 2.4% stake in UBS Group. The position is valued at around $1.6 billion, with UBS managing the process.

• Tronc (Nasdaq: TRNC) has offered to acquire Wrapports, a Chicago-based media company whose properties include the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader.

• Yahoo (Nasdaq:YHOO) said that it plans to buy back $3 billion worth of common shares, ahead of its pending takeover by Verizon.


• ADM Capital Europe has held a $100 million first close on its first fund focused on agritech businesses in Europe, Australia and Asia, according to Private Equity International. The total fund size target is $500 million.

• DMG Entertainment has launched a $300 million investment arm to focus on the entertainment, tech and media sectors.

• MCH Private Equity, a Madrid-based mid-market private equity firm, is seeking to raise upwards of €350 million for its fourth fund, per an SEC filing. Eaton Partners is serving as placement agent.

• Moonlake Capital has been formed as a London-based mid-market private equity firm focused on the industrials and consumer services sector, according to Dow Jones. It is led by Philip Wack (ex-KKR) and is targeting upwards of €300 million for its debut fund.

• Notion Capital has closed its third early-stage flagship fund with $140 million in capital commitments. The London-based VC firm also is raising $80 million for a growth "opportunities" fund.

• Rabobank has launched a food and agriculture-focused venture capital fund, via its Rabo Private Equity platform.

It's Personnel

• CDIB Capital, the private equity unit of China Development Financial, has hired Hamilton Tang (ex-managing partner of SMC Capital China) and Yinghai Xie (ex-partner at SMC) as managing directors in Hong Kong and Shanghai, respectively. It also added Sandy Ng (ex-investment manager at Xcelerate) as a Shanghai-based SVP.

• CVC Capital Partners is promoting Sigit Prasetya to head of Asia operations, according to Private Equity International. He replaces Roy Huan, who is retiring from the firm after an 18-year run.

• Larry Culp, former CEO of Danaher Corp., has joined Bain Capital as a senior advisor to the firm's industrials team.

• Daniel Gwak and Sri Chandrasekar have left In-Q-Tel, the CIA-linked venture capital firm, in order to join Steve Cohen's Point72 Ventures, according to Business Insider.

• Hamilton Lane has made several new hires to its European team: Carolin Blank (ex-Alvarez & Marsal Europe) as a principal of European relationship management, Ahmed Khalil (BlackRock Private Equity Partners) as a VP of European relationship management and Lali Sichinava (Neuberger Berman) as a UK-focused VP of business development.

• René Lerer, president of GuideWell Mutual and Florida Blue, has joined Frazier Healthcare Partners as a senior advisor to the firm's growth buyouts team.

• Maven Venture Partners, a British private equity firm, has hired three new investment managers: Martin Clark (ex- Manchester Growth Co.), James Darlington (EY Manchester) and Jeremy Thompson (Enterprise Ventures).

• David Walsh, the former head of global acquisition finance at Bank of Ireland, has joined London-based private equity firm Bridgepoint to help launch a private credit business.

Final Numbers
Dan Primack