Aug 24, 2018

Axios Pro Rata

By Dan Primack
Dan Primack

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Top of the Morning
Source: Giphy

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."

📣 Pro Rata podcast: Yesterday we talked power grid hacking, Trump's big economic claim and ridiculous new airline charges. All in just 10 minutes. Listen for free via Apple, Google Play, Spotify or at

Source: Giphy

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.

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.

Carmera, a New York-based developer of mapping and data analytics for autonomous vehicles, raised $20 million in Series B funding led by GV.

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.

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.

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.

🚑 RXQ Compounding, an Athens, Ohio-based outsourced medicine maker, raised $3.6 million from Advantage Capital.

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.

Public Offerings

🚑 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.

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.

Liquidity Events

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.

CVC Capital Partners agreed to sell its majority stake in Stage Entertainment, a Dutch theatrical production company, to New York-based Advance Publications.

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.

More M&A

⛽ ABB (SWX: ABBN) is considering the sale of its power grid business, which has an implied valuation of around $10.2 billion, per Bloomberg.

🚑 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).

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.

⛽ 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.


AEA Investors is pre-marketing its seventh flagship buyout fund, which could target upwards of $5 billion, per PE Hub.

Crescent Capital Partners, an Australian mid-market private equity firm, raised A$800 million for its sixth fund.

Kayne Anderson closed its third credit fund at around $3 billion in capacity (including leverage).

Lead Edge Capital, a New York-based VC firm, raised $520 million for its fourth fund.

It's Personnel

John Rosenberg stepped down as a general partner with Technology Crossover Ventures, after an 18-year run.

Final Numbers
Source: Thomson Reuters Deals Intelligence; Data through 8/23/18
Dan Primack

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