• DQ counter queue: Warren Buffett today named Ajit Jain and Gregory Abel as vice chairs of Berkshire Hathaway, which appears to mean that one (or both?) of them will eventually become Buffett's CEO successor. More Buffett, via a CNBC interview:
"Our directors believe that our future CEOs should come from internal candidates whom the Berkshire board has grown to know well."
"Berkshire will operate best if its CEOs average well over ten years at the helm."
"In terms of cryptocurrencies, generally, I can say with almost certainty that they will come to a bad ending."
• We (don't) have winners baby: Red-hot trivia app HQ is said to have hit pause on its fundraising efforts, with plans to restart late this month or early next month. Not sure if it's still seeking around $10 million on $100 million, but do know that a recent Recode piece on unspecified "creepy behavior" by HQ's co-founders has taken a toll (even though the article itself was about fundraising troubles born of VC due diligence).
• Acting up: 2017 was a record year for activist investor activity, per a Lazard review that saw $62 billion deployed over 193 global campaigns:
"The nexus between activism and M&A grew stronger, with the attractiveness of event-driven returns encouraging activists to assert themselves as a key player on the M&A chessboard and raising the appetite of strategic acquirers to adopt activism as a tactic."
• Restructure: AngelList and Boston-based venture firm Accomplice yesterday announced the launch of Spearhead, a $35 million fund-of-funds that will be aimed at tech entrepreneurs who want to try their hand at venture capital. Some notes:
• Coming attractions: Don't be surprised to soon see one or more departures from Google Ventures...
• Davos Man: President Trump will attend the World Economic Forum in Davos later this month, in order to reiterate his "America first" message. No one from the White House attended last year, reportedly because Trump "thought it would betray his populist-fueled movement to have a presence at the gathering in the Swiss Alps."
MOD Pizza, a Seattle-based fast-casual pizza chain, has raised $33 million in new equity funding from PWP Growth Equity and Fidelity. It also secured a $40 million credit facility.
• Black Fish, a Chinese consumer loan platform, has raised $145 million in Series A funding from Lightspeed China Partners, Gobi Partners, Morningside Venture Capital, JAFCO Asia, Fullcent Capital and Dianping.com founder Zhang Tao.
• Igloo Software, a Canadian provider of digital workplace solutions, has raised US$47 million from Frontier Capital. http://axios.link/lL3q
• Skyword, a Boston-based provider of content marketing software, has raised $25 million in growth equity funding from an affiliate of Rho Capital Partners. http://axios.link/Aciw
• Bugsnag, a San Francisco-based bug-finding service for software developers, has raised $9 million in Series B funding. GV was joined by return backers Benchmark and Matrix Partners. www.bugsnag.com
• StackShare, a San Francisco-based software discovery platform, has raised $5.2 million in Series A funding. E.ventures led, and was joined by Cervin Ventures. http://axios.link/UWYJ
• CloudLex, a New York-based provider of cloud software for personal injury law firms, has raised $4 million in funding led by Aligned Partners. www.cloudlex.com
• AE Industrial Partners has acquired FMI, a Park City, Kansas-based provider of specialized components for the aerospace industry. www.fmi-incorporated.com
• The Blackstone Group has agreed to acquire Pure Industrial Real Estate Trust (TSX: AAR) for around C$2.48 billion, or C$8.10 per share (20.5% premium to Monday’s closing price). Pure Industrial owns and operates industrial properties in North America. http://axios.link/ysqP
• Clearlake Capital has acquired Perforce Software, an Alameda, Calif.-based vision control and collaboration platform, from Summit Partners. www.perforce.com
• Corsair Capital has acquired RGI, an Italian provider of insurance industry software, from Ardian. http://axios.link/gdck
• Stone Point Capital has partnered with AmTrust Financial Services (Nasdaq: AFSI) CEO Barry Zyskind on a billion acquisition offer for the 67% of AmTrust that the Zyskind family does not already own. The $12.25 per share offer represents a 20.8% premium over Monday’s closing price for AmTrust, a New York-based workers' compensation insurer. http://axios.link/HvXC
• TOPS Software, a Clearwater, Fla.-based provider of community management software for property managers and homeowners, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from American Discovery Capital. www.topssoft.com
⛽ ACWA Power, a Saudi developer of electricity and water projects, is prepping an IPO that could value the company at upwards of $1 billion, according to Reuters. http://axios.link/bg6t
• Harvest Partners has sold FCX Performance, a Columbus, Ohio-based distributor of process flow control solutions and products, to Applied Industrial Technologies (NYSE: AIT). www.fcxperformance.com
• NEC (Tokyo: 6701) has agreed to acquire British IT company Northgate Public Services from Cinven for £475 million, in an effort to “strengthen sales of specialty facial recognition technology” in Great Britain. http://axios.link/Ixaz
• Special Situations Venture Partners has sold Czech-based Metal Trade Comax Group to German aluminum producer Oetinger. http://axios.link/7TSl
• Akamai Technologies (Nasdaq: AKAM) has hired Morgan Stanley to explore a strategic alternatives, according to Bloomberg. This comes as the $11.5 billion cloud tech company is under activist pressure from Paul Singer's Elliott Associates, which holds a 6.5% stake. http://axios.link/bYSt
• American International Group (NYSE: AIG) held unsuccessful talks late last year to acquire Voya Financial (NYSE:VOYA) for around $10 billion, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/7Loo
🚑 GlaxoSmithKline (LSE GSK) CEO said that her company would take a look at Pfizer's (NYSE: PFE) consumer products unit, but that it's wary of overpaying. http://axios.link/D2tl
• Kunlun Group of China has completed its acquisition of gay dating app Grindr, paying $152 million for the minority stake it didn’t already own. http://axios.link/HxAe
• Nuance Communications (Nasdaq: NUAN) has retained Evercore to explore a sale of its automotive unit, which could be valued at around $1.5 billion, according to Bloomberg. http://axios.link/0hpF
• TD Bank (TSC: TD) has acquired Layer6 AI, a Toronto-based developer of a personalization engine. http://axios.link/9lQq
• Brown Advisory reportedly is in talks to acquire Washington, D.C.-based venture firm NextGen Venture Partners.
Groupe Renault, Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors have launched Alliance Ventures, a mobility-focused venture capital fund that intends to invest $1 billion over the next five years. http://axios.link/9I5U
• Hunter Street Partners has launched as a Minneapolis-based "firm that will provide capital solutions to operating partner teams and lower middle market companies across corporate finance, real estate, and specialty finance." It is co-led by Neal Johnson (ex-Isles Ranch Partners, Värde Partners). www.hunterst.com
• KKR has closed its second dedicated real estate fund with $2 billion in capital commitments (including $230m from the firm’s balance sheet and employees). http://axios.link/MAZm
• Wellspring Capital Management has closed its sixth flagship buyout fund with around $1.4 billion in capital commitments.
• Eric Fitzgerald this past Monday began work as a managing director with San Francisco-based Top Tier Capital Partners, Axios has learned, after having spent nine years with MetLife's private equity program. Expect him to focus on VC fund investment opportunities, and this summer to open up a Boston satellite.
• Trish Gilbert has joined private equity firm Wind Point Partners as chief talent officer. She previously was with The Edgewater Funds. www.windpointpartners.com
• Geetanjali Gupta has joined the New York Public Library as chief investment officer. She previously was senior VP of absolute return and public market funds at Harvard Management Company.
• Vanessa Selbst, the winningest woman ever in tournament poker, has joined Bridgewater Associates in an undisclosed role, according to Bloomberg. http://axios.link/rYC7
• David West (ex-Cardano) and Tom Clarkson (ex-Dimensional Fund Advisors) have joined Pantheon as global head of operations and as a principal in the U.S. client service team, respective. Pantheon has promoted Alex Wilmerding to partner. www.pantheon.com