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Top of the Morning
• Breaking: Anthony Noto has stepped down as COO of Twitter to become CEO of SoFi, the "unicorn" online lender whose founding CEO Mike Cagney left last year amid sexual harassment allegations.
- Noto is ex-Goldman, which might cause some consternation for other banks that were hoping to lead SoFi's eventual IPO.
- It does not appear that he's being replaced at Twitter.
- The press release was sent by SoFi comms head Jim Prosser, who used to serve in a similar role with Twitter. Got to wonder if more of the old band will get back together...
• Building bridges: Axios' Jonathan Swan yesterday obtained and published a draft copy of the White House's infrastructure plan. Not too many huge surprises in there, but a few notable omissions like the lack of a gas tax increase.
- In short: Assuming the WH asks Congress for $200 billion, then this only becomes a $1 trillion plan if you include things like long-term expected (hoped for?) revenue from new interstate highway tolls, etc. The ask for 5-to-1 leverage from the private sector just doesn't seem to be there.
- Go deeper: 5 things we learned from the draft doc
• Trade talk: The White House yesterday announced 30% tariffs on imported solar cells and modules. It also placed a 20% tariff on imported residential washing machines.
- Bottom line: Both figures were lower than many had expected, both here and abroad — which is why shares of many affected foreign manufacturers are actually up this morning.
- Axios energy reporter Ben Geman has more on the solar tariffs, which are expected to cause short-term deployment decreases for both residential and utility-scale installations.
• More Trumpland: Cerberus Capital Management boss Stephen Feinberg is in pole position to lead the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, according to Foreign Policy. But let's wait for a formal announcement on this, since Feinberg's name has been regularly bandied about since Trump took office.
• DOA: Primary Data, a data visualization startup that raised over $100 million in venture and debt financing and featured Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak as 'chief scientist," is done. TechCrunch's Connie Loizos has more.
• He's back: Marc Bodnick, the onetime Silver Lake and Blackstone investor who went on to co-found Elevation Partners (before later taking on a senior exec role at Quora), has launched a stealthy new startup called Telepath. All he'll say is that it's "a new social product" and that his partner is former Quora colleague Richard Henry.
Great Britain's top competition regulator said this morning that 21st Century Fox's (Nasdaq: FOXA) $15.7 billion bid for a majority stake in UK broadcaster Sky News (LSE: SKY) is "not in the public's best interest." This likely means the deal will be blocked, although a final decision won't be made until May.
- Why it's the BFD: Because Rupert Murdoch really, really, really wants full control of Sky News.
- Plus: This deal is supposed to be domino that falls into Walt Disney Co.'s $52 billion purchase of Fox's entertainment and sports assets (which would have included some Sky international streaming assets). Fox execs have said the Disney deal isn't ultimately dependent on the Sky deal, but these are the same execs who expected UK regulatory approval.
- Bottom line: Regulators noted that Murdoch-owned news outlets are already watched or read by one-third of the British population, "and have a combined share of the public’s news consumption that is significantly greater than all other news providers, except the BBC and ITN."
Venture Capital Deals
• Cabify, a Madrid-based ride-hail company, has raised $160 million in Series E funding at a $1.4 billion valuation. Backers include Rakuten Capital, TheVentureCity, Endeavor Catalyst, GAT Investments, Liil Ventures and WTI. The company also announced a CEO switch. http://axios.link/O2zK
🚑 Tmunity, a Philadelphia-based developer of cancer immunotherapies, has raised $100 million in Series A funding from Ping An Ventures, the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, Gilead Sciences, Be The Match, Penn Medicine and Lilly Ventures Asia. http://axios.link/FdIR
🚑 Eureka Therapeutics, an Emeryville, Calif.-based developer of T-cell treatments for solid tumors, has raised $60 million in Series D funding. Acorn Pacific Ventures led, and was joined by GP Capital. http://axios.link/LEfI
• Cumulus Networks, a Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of network management software, has raised $43 million in new VC funding. Telstra Ventures led, and was joined by return backers including Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures and Sequoia Capital. www.cumulusnetworks.com
• Dremio, a Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of self-service data analytics solutions, has raised $25 million in Series B funding. Norwest Venture Partners led, and was joined by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Redpoint Ventures. www.dremio.com
🚑 Springbuk, an Indianapolis-based provider of employer-facing health intelligence software, has raised $20 million in Series B funding. HealthQuest Capital and Echo Health Ventures co-led, and were joined by Lewis & Clark Ventures and Elevate Ventures. http://axios.link/bXXT
• SheerID, a Portland, Ore.-based provider of digital verification technologies for the enterprise, has raised $18 million in Series B funding led by Centana Growth Partners. www.sheerid.com
• SmartHR, a Japanese provider of HR management software, has raised around $13.3 million in Series B funding led by 500 Startups Japan. http://axios.link/k6qV
• Zylo, an Indianapolis-based SaaS optimization platform, has raised $9.3 million in Series A funding. Bessemer Venture Partners led, and was joined by Salesforce Ventures, Slack Fund and return backers High Alpha Capital, GGV, SV Angel and Hyde Park Venture Partners. www.zylo.com
• Cargo, a New York-based provider of “in rideshare” convenience stores, has raised $5.5 million in new seed funding from CRCM Ventures and Eighteen94 Capital. http://axios.link/YTlI
• Apprente, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based developer of “intelligent systems” that leverage neuroscience-based AI, has raised $4.75 million in seed funding from AME Cloud Ventures, Greylock Partners via Discovery Fund, Morado Ventures, Pathbreaker Ventures and StageOne Ventures. www.apprente.com
• Cognovi Labs, a Columbus, Ohio-based “emotion-based” AI startup, has raised $2.3 million in seed funding led by Ikove Venture Partners. www.cognovilabs.com
• VSORA, a French developer of digital signal processing chips for 5G networks, has raised $1.7 million in Series A funding from Omnes Capital and Partech Ventures. http://axios.link/jMt5
Private Equity Deals
• Affinity Equity Partners has agreed to acquire Trimco, a Hong Kong-based maker of garment labels, from Partners Group for $520 million.
• Bain Capital, Citic Capital and a unit of China Investment Corp. are weighing second-round bids for Nature’s Care, an Australian nutritional supplements maker that could be valued at around A$700 million, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/OcEq
• Claire’s Stores, a girls’ accessories retailer owned by Apollo Global Management, has hired Lazard to advise on restructuring its $2.2 billion debt-load, per Reuters. http://axios.link/HiID
• DexKo Global, an Elkhart, Ind.-based portfolio company of KPS Capital Partners, has acquired Kodiak, a Fort Worth, Texas-based maker of light and medium duty axle brakes. www.dexko.com
🚑 Summit Partners has acquired a minority stake in Advance Medical, a global provider of telehealth services. www.advance-medical.net
• TDBBS, a Richmond, Va.-based maker of natural dog treats and chews, has raised an undisclosed amount of growth equity funding from Bregal Partners. It also named former Beam Suntory exec Tim Hassett as CEO. www.tdbbsllc.com
• Tradesman International, a portfolio company of The Blackstone Group, has acquired Construction Labor Contractors, a Richfield, Ohio-based provider of temporary staffing for the commercial construction market, from Silver Oak Services Partners. http://axios.link/spKw
• Cerberus Capital Management is considering an IPO for Spanish property management company Haya Real Estate, according to Bloomberg. https://axios.link/QJxA
• Dalian Wanda Group has picked CLSA, Citigroup and UBS to work on a proposed IPO for its sports business, according to Reuters. http://axios.link/cvbB
🚑 AXA Group has agreed to acquire Maestro Health, a Chicago-based provider of employee health and benefits management technology, for around $155 million. Maestro had raised over $60 million VC funding from firms like Oak HC/FT, SV Health Investors and Escalate Capital Partners. http://axios.link/K0BQ
⛽ BP (LSE: BP) is considering an offer for Rete Rinnovabile, an Italian solar energy group that is being auctioned off by Terra Firma Capital Partners for around €1.5 billion, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/7lCn
• T-Mobile (Nasdaq: TMUS) has completed its previously-announced purchase of Layer3 TV, a Denver-based provider of cable television broadcasting service. Layer3 had raised over $70 million in VC funding from firms like Evolution Media and North Bridge Venture Partners.
🍹Bacardi has agreed to acquire high-end tequila-maker Patrón Spirits International for $5.1 billion. http://axios.link/iTHF
• Paddle8, a Brooklyn-based online auction house, is selling a 15% stake to Swiss technology company The Native, per the NY Times. http://axios.link/AnrK
• Prudential PLC (LSE: PRU) has agreed to sell its Vietnam consumer finance business to South Korea’s Shinhan Financial Group to $151 million. http://axios.link/2cIK
⛽ Puerto Rico’s governor said that the territory plans to privatize PREPA, its troubled power utility, via a process that could take upwards of 18 months to complete. http://axios.link/1ZS2
• Alaska Permanent Fund has hired Evercore to find a buyer for a nearly $1 billion portfolio of private equity fund stakes, per Secondaries Investor. http://axios.link/FWvm
• Aspect Ventures has closed its second fund with $181 million in capital commitments. LPs include Cisco Systems and Melinda Gates. http://axios.link/qA1N
• KKR is opening a new office in Frankfurt. It will be led by partner Christian Ollig, who also has been named the firm’s head of Germany. www.kkr.com
• Masha Drokova, a 28-year-old Russian immigrant who was previously a pro-Putin youth activist, has launched a San Francisco-based VC firm called Day One Ventures. http://axios.link/DZyX
• Fairview Capital has promoted Aakar Vachhani to partner. He first joined the Connecticut-based VC and private equity firm in 2008. www.fairviewcapital.com
• Lily Lyman has joined Boston-based Underscore VC as a principal. She previously was a program manager for global partnerships and business development at Facebook. www.underscore.vc
• March Capital of Los Angeles has promoted Jed Leidheiser to VP. www.marchcp.com
Netflix yesterday topped a $100 billion market cap for the first time, based on a Q4 earnings report that included better-than-expected subscriber numbers.
- Why it matters: This is another sharp nail in the cable bundle coffin.
- Go deeper at Axios, including how sexual harassment scandals might have eaten into the bottom line.