Greetings from Las Vegas, where it was good to meet a bunch of you both before and after my on-stage interviews last night with Stripe's John Collison and PayPal mafiosi Max Levchin and Keith Rabois. I'll be hanging out in the hallways today (at least once the sun comes up). Here we go...
Top of the Morning
Abra, a bitcoin-based digital wallet app primary focused on foreign exchange, has raised $15 million in Series B funding. Foxconn led the round, and was joined bu Silver8 Capital, Ignia and return backers Arbor Ventures, American Express, Jungle Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures and RRE Ventures.
- Why it's the BFD: Because this could help lead to a revolution in how people pay for consumer electronics and other household goods. Foxconn's investment does not have a strategic partnership attached, but Abra CEO Bill Barhydt believes that the inclusion of IoT chips in such things as flat-screen TVs – Foxconn now owns Sharp – could eventually be leveraged to enable pay-as-you go leasing programs transacted via Bitcoin.
- Bottom line: Does it seem far-fetched? Sure. Well, until you realize that a version of this has been underway for several years with M-Pesa and solar home-lighting systems in Kenya.
Venture Capital Deals
Private Equity Deals
• Baring Private Equity and Citic Capital reportedly are in advanced talks to acquire the English-language school business of Pearson (LSE: PSON) for more than $350 million. http://axios.link/aF2b
• The Carlyle Group and TA Associates are among the bidders for Old Mutual Global Investors' (LSE: OML) £25 billion fund business, according to the FT. Macquarie Investment Management and Challenger also are bidding. http://axios.link/fEhT
• Quad-C Management has invested in AIT Worldwide, an Itasca, Ill.-based provider of transportation and supply chain management solutions. www.aitworldwide.com
• American Securities has completed its previously-announced sale of Indiana-based Royal Adhesives & Sealants to H.B. Fuller Co. (NYSE: FUL) for $1.575 billion. http://axios.link/aUna
• WeWork has acquired Flatiron School, a New York-based coding academy, for an undisclosed amount of cash and stock (a source says it was a competitive process). Flatiron had raised over $14 million in VC funding from Thrive Capital, CRV and Matrix Partners. http://axios.link/VfKz
• Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) has agreed to acquire telecom software maker BroadSoft (Nasdaq: BSFT) for $1.9 billion, or $55 per share.
• The Hartford (NYSE: HIG) has agreed to acquire the U.S. group life and disability business of Aetna (NYSE: AET) for $1.45 billion in cash. http://axios.link/Jy6e
• Blue Wolf Capital Partners has closed its fourth private equity fund with $540 million in capital commitments. www.bluewolfcapital.com
• Forerunner Ventures is raising around $55 million for a fund that will make follow-on investments in existing portfolio companies. www.forerunnerventures.com
• Nordic Capital is expecting to hold a first and final close on its ninth flagship fund at €3.5 billion by year-end, according to Financial News. http://axios.link/NugI