Top of the Morning
A bit more color on the very messy Zoox CEO ouster:
- The board voted unanimously to fire CEO Tim Kentley-Klay, after having called a special meeting that took place on Wednesday.
- Some Zoox directors have experience with this sort of thing. Heidi Roizen is a partner with DFJ, which pushed out Steve Jurvetson last year, and Lori Yoler was on Tesla Motors' board when it removed CEO Martin Eberhard in 2007.
- Also worth noting that the board has made some quiet changes: Thomas Tull left, while Michael Cannon-Brooks (co-CEO of Atlassian, head of Grok Ventures) and Fred Hu (Primavera Capital) joined. Grok and Primavery led the recent $500 million investment in Zoox at a $3.2 billion post-money valuation.
- Kentley-Klay tweeted that the board "chose the path of fear, optimizing for a little money in hand at the expense of profound progress for the universe." One interpretation — offered by two sources — is that Kentley-Klay steadfastly refused to consider strategic partnerships or investments, and the incoming investors disagreed. Doesn't mean there's necessarily a strategic deal in hand, but now one would at least be possible.
- Kentley-Klay also has tweeted over 20 notes that he says come from Zoox employees, expressing bewilderment, frustration and anger.
- Still no word on what, if anything, happened over the weekend to prompt the special board meeting (i.e., a final straw), or if it was just that the directors had gotten their pink slip in order.
• Today in Tesla: Elon Musk has added Morgan Stanley to his advisory stable, which already included Goldman Sachs.
- That means Musk secured the top two global M&A advisors in terms of year-to-date volume, per Thomson Reuters data. They were the top two firms last year also, although in a different order (MS is above GS in 2018).
• All eyes on Fed Chair Jay Powell today in Jackson Hole, as he makes his first public comments after President Trump expressed displeasure with rising rates.
• Buyout bigs: Hellman & Friedman recently told investors that co-CEO Philip Hammarskjold will transition into an executive chairman role at year-end, per a public pension document. Patrick Healy, who was promoted to co-CEO this past January, will serve as sole CEO.
- Stephen Can plans to leave Blackstone Group, where he is co-head of its secondary private equity business, per PE International. Fellow co-head Verdun Perry will run the day-to-day, with Can becoming executive chair while a succession plan is developed. Then expect him to depart entirely "in the next couple of years."
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EventBrite, a San Francisco-based event ticketing platform, filed for a $200 million IPO.
- Why it's the BFD: Because this should be the first of many new IPO filings, as the post-filing waiting period to launch roadshows now sits in the "nobody's on vacation" sweet spot between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.
- Weirdness: EventBrite early this morning submitted an amended S-1 document to the SEC, less than 24 hours after the original filing. The biggest change I've found so far is that the $200 million figure has disappeared.
- Financials: Net loss of $38.5 million on $201.6 million in revenue for full-year 2017, and $15.6 million net loss on $142 million in revenue for first-half 2018. It's raised over $370 million in VC funding, with Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital listed as the largest outside shareholders. EventBrite also said a recent hack cost it $6.6 million.
- Bottom line: "Social platforms like Facebook recently complicated this space by integrating ticket purchasing portals onto its site to direct customers to both Ticketmaster or Eventbrite. While driving one-time purchases to the services, these on-site portals keep users sequestered on Facebook and in turn don’t allow them to browse other options." — Sarah Wells, TechCrunch
Venture Capital Deals
🚑 Rakuten Aspyrian, a San Diego-based developer of a photoimmunotherapy platform for cancer, raised $150 million in Series C funding. The round was led by existing investor Hiroshi Mikitani, the CEO of Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten, and an SEC filing suggests it could expand to $350 million. http://axios.link/0arh
• Sonder, a San Francisco-based home rental platform, raised $85 million in new funding. Greenoaks Capital led, and was joined by Greylock, Spark Capital, Structure Capital and Harbourvest. http://axios.link/tX3G
• Carmera, a New York-based developer of mapping and data analytics for autonomous vehicles, raised $20 million in Series B funding led by GV. http://axios.link/SATe
• Deserve, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based credit card startup for Gen Z, raised $17 million in Series C funding. An undisclosed strategic led, and was joined by Accel, Aspect Ventures, Pelion Ventures, Mission Holdings, Alumni Venture Group and GDP Venture. www.deserve.com
• Bungalow, a San Francisco-based platform for finding vetted co-living spaces, raised $14 million in Series A funding. Khosla Ventures led, and was joined by Founders Fund, Atomic VC, Cherubic Ventures and Wing Ventures. http://axios.link/biBH
• Armory, a continuous delivery/integration platform, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Crosslink Capital led, and was joined by included Bain Capital Ventures, Javelin Venture Partners and Y Combinator. http://axios.link/1wcr
🚑 RXQ Compounding, an Athens, Ohio-based outsourced medicine maker, raised $3.6 million from Advantage Capital. www.rxqcompounding.com
Private Equity Deals
• Vista Equity Partners invested in ComplySci, a New York-based provider of regulatory software for financial and professional services companies. Existing ComplySci backers include Edison Partners. www.complysci.com
🚑 Gritstone Oncology, an Emeryville, Calif.-based personalized cancer immunotherapy company, filed for an $80 million IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (GRTS) with Goldman Sachs as lead underwriter. The pre-revenue company has raised over $150 million in VC funding from such firms as Versant Ventures (14% pre-IPO stake), Column Group (14%), Clarus Ventures (10.1%), Frazier Healthcare (8.4%), Trinitas Capital (8.4%), Lilly Asia Ventures (6.3%), Redmile Group (6.3%), GV and Casdin Capital. http://axios.link/3Htn
• PDC Brands, a Stamford, Conn.-based beauty and personal care products maker backed by CVC Capital Partners, is prepping a 2019 IPO, according to Bloomberg. http://axios.link/tAhC
• Accel-KKR has held sale talks for portfolio company Kerridge Commercial Systems, a British trading and business management software company that could be valued north of £325 million, per PE News. http://axios.link/vazd
• CVC Capital Partners agreed to sell its majority stake in Stage Entertainment, a Dutch theatrical production company, to New York-based Advance Publications. http://axios.link/p0fg
• Platinum Equity is exploring a sale or IPO of Vertiv, a Columbus, Ohio-based provider of backup power systems for data centers that could fetch nearly $6 billion, per Reuters. http://axios.link/bKTm
⛽ ABB (SWX: ABBN) is considering the sale of its power grid business, which has an implied valuation of around $10.2 billion, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/JFHA
🚑 Altasciences of Canada agreed to buy the preclinical testing unit of SNBL USA, an Everett, Wash.-based unit of Shin Nippon Biomedical Labs (Tokyo: 2395). http://axios.link/zN5Y
• Guggenheim Partners is no longer in talks to sell a stake in its asset management unit to Munich Re, nor to “oversee about $30 billion in assets for the German insurer,” per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/N0zU
⛽ Petrofac (LSE: PFC) agreed to sell its 20% stake in the North Sea’s Greater Stella Area assets to Ithaca Energy, owned by Israel-listed Delek Group, for upwards of $292 million. http://axios.link/aFD7
• AEA Investors is pre-marketing its seventh flagship buyout fund, which could target upwards of $5 billion, per PE Hub. http://axios.link/oI9R
• Crescent Capital Partners, an Australian mid-market private equity firm, raised A$800 million for its sixth fund. http://axios.link/6U0G
• Kayne Anderson closed its third credit fund at around $3 billion in capacity (including leverage). www.kaynecapital.com
• Lead Edge Capital, a New York-based VC firm, raised $520 million for its fourth fund. http://axios.link/nIpE
• John Rosenberg stepped down as a general partner with Technology Crossover Ventures, after an 18-year run. www.tcv.com