Top of the Morning
It's been a whirlwind weekend for big names leaving big jobs:
Les Moonves is out as CEO at CBS, following new (and even more disturbing) allegations of sexual harassment and assault (all of which Moonves denies). The network also swapped out six board members, and announced a settlement with majority shareholder Shari Redstone.
- Maybe bank analysts now will ask some actual questions of CBS management, something they were too cowardly to do during the company's most recent earnings call.
- In case they struggle to come up with one, I'll help: Ronan Farrow reports that Moonves told " a portion of the CBS board... early this year" about a criminal investigation. Who specifically did he tell, and when exactly?
Jack Ma will step down as Alibaba's executive chairman on the company's 20th anniversary, which comes one year from today. His successor will be current company CEO Daniel Zhang.
- Ma is based in China, but Silicon Valley treats him with a reverence that is only rivaled by that for Jeff Bezos and the late Steve Jobs.
- In a letter to Alibaba shareholders and employees, Ma signed off by writing: "Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba."
Imran Khan is stepping down as chief strategy officer of Snap, where he has been CEO Evan Spiegel's right-hand man since 2015.
- This comes as Snap shares hit an all-time low on Friday, and are down another 1.3% in pre-market trading.
- Spiegel has said that he's worked to improve his internal communications skills, and that will now be put to the test.
- Word is that Khan has been making a bunch of investments in China.
Tim Armstrong is on his way out of Verizon, where he leads the media and advertising biz, as first reported by WSJ.
- This one is a bit confusing, and not only because it comes just one year after Verizon completed the Yahoo purchase that Armstrong championed.
- Armstrong reportedly wanted to spin out his business (called Oath), but was turned down by new Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg — even though Vestberg has seemed much more interested in making Verizon a networking company than a networking+media company.
- So... is Vestberg really laser-focused on 5G, or is there a small part of him that wants to ape AT&T? And, if so, is the real problem that Armstrong wanted a spin-out whereas Vestberg wanted to keep Oath in-house and expand it?
- All of which maybe leads to... Verizon making a play for CBS?
- (No, I have no inside knowledge. Just reading opportunistic tea leaves, perhaps poorly, given CBS's troubles and that the Redstone settlement that precludes an immediate tie-up with Viacom.)
China's Greely has decided to delay its planned IPO for Volvo, which it acquired in 2010, per the FT:
• Today in Abraaj: The troubled firm is closing its London office, with the lease to be assumed by fellow private equity firm Ardian.
• Interstellar: Lightyear, a commercial entity formed last year by the nonprofit Stellar Development Foundation, today announced that it will buy Chain, a startup that develops blockchain-based technologies for the financial markets.
- No financial terms were disclosed, but earlier reports put price talk at around $500 million, in a combination of cash and a Stellar-related digital token called Lumens.
- Among those getting dollars are Chain's venture capitalists, all of whom are cashing out. The San Francisco-based company had raised around $44 million from firms like Khosla Ventures, SV Angel, Thrive Capital, Visa Ventures, Citi Ventures, NASDAQ and RRE Ventures (where Chain CEO Adam Ludwin used to work).
- Ludwin will run the combined company, which is being renamed Intestellar. Don't be surprised to see it go out for a funding round of its own.
• Update: Social Capital's Chamath Palihapitiya tweeted "it's not accurate," in response to my Friday story on his VC firm's implosion. So I asked, also via Twitter, for more specific objections, but he has not responded. Nor has either he nor a firm spokeswoman replied to my emailed requests for comment.
• Record-breaker: M&A involving Indian companies has already passed the $100 billion mark, according to Bloomberg.
🎧 Pro Rata Podcast: We posted a special weekend edition with highlights from my on-stage interviews last Friday with General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Tusk Ventures CEO Bradley Tusk and 11-time NBA All-Star Chris Bosh. (Listen) (Subscribe)
Spyce, a Somerville, Mass.-based restaurant concept that features a robotic kitchen, raised $21 million in Series A funding co-led by CollabFund and Maveron.
- Why it's the BFD: Because this could be the future of fast-casual restaurants, although there are questions as to whether Spyce itself is being valued as a restaurant chain or a tech company.
- Other investors include return backer Khosla Ventures, and chefs Thomas Keller, Jerome Bocuse, Daniel Boulud and Gavin Kaysen.
- Bottom line: "The entire experience at Spyce, from start to finish, requires customers to interact with technology. Order on a touch screen, and then wait as a robot makes your Moroccan bowl. There are some human employees at Spyce — they help guide customers through the ordering process, if need be, and perform some tasks that the robots cannot, such as prepping ingredients and garnishing the finished plates." — Terrence Doyle, Eater Boston
Venture Capital Deals
🚑 Clarify Health, a San Francisco-based provider of real-time care guidance technology, raised $57 million in Series B funding led by KKR. http://axios.link/Y4ND
🚑 Alpha Tau Medical, an Israeli developer of radiation-emitting implants for treating solid tumors, raised $29 million. Shavit Capital led, and was joined by Medison Pharma, OurCrowd, Ronald Cohen and Alan Patricof. http://axios.link/YJKq
• OneDegree, a Hong Kong-based online insurance platform, secured $25.5 million in Series A funding from undisclosed investors. http://axios.link/lu7z
• ParkWhiz, a Chicago-based reservation parking service, raised $20 million in Series D funding. NewSpring led, and was joined by return backers Baird Capital, Jump Capital and Beringea. http://axios.link/C7SP
• Blue Medora, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based IT monitoring integration company, raised $10 million from Edison Partners. www.bluemedora.com
• Unmortgage, a London-based shared ownership model for home-buying, raised £10 million in seed funding from Anthemis Exponential Ventures and Augmentum Fintech. http://axios.link/pSSZ
🚑 Scipher Medicine, a Waltham, Mass.-based developer of a molecular technology platform for predicting how patients will respond to particular therapies, raised $10 million in funding led by Khosla Ventures. www.sciphermedicine.com
• SkyX, a Canadian provider of long-range unmanned aerial monitoring and data collection, raised US$9.5 million in Series B funding led by Almond Tree Enterprises. www.skyx.com
• Perlego, a London-based “Spotify for textbooks,” raised $4.8 million in new funding led by ADV. http://axios.link/Tj7V
Private Equity Deals
• Apollo Global Management and Bain Capital are in talks to buy UK-based plastics maker RPC Group (LSE: RPC), which had a market cap of $3.6 billion prior to the announcement. http://axios.link/tLkp
🚑 The Carlyle Group acquired a “significant minority stake” in Ambio, a Chinese peptide active pharmaceutical ingredient contract development and manufacturing firm, from MVM Partners.
• Goldman Sachs completed its previously-announced purchase of Boyd Corp., a Pleasanton, Calif.-based provider of thermal management and environmental sealing solutions, from Genstar Capital. www.boydcorp.com
• IF&P, a Bethesda, Md.-based portfolio company of Rotunda Capital Partners, acquired Cibus Fresh, a Noblesville, Ind.-based provider of made-to-order packaged convenience foods. www.cibusfresh.com
• Five companies plan to price IPOs on U.S. exchanges this week: NIO, 111, Navios Containers, Principia Biopharma and Qutoutiao. http://axios.link/vipl
🥡 Haidilao, a Chinese hot pot restaurant chain, filed for a Hong Kong IPO that could raise upwards of $963 million. Investors include Hillhouse Capital. http://axios.link/IcD0
• Kodiak Sciences, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based developer of antibodies for treating age-related macular degeneration, filed for a $100 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq (KOD) with Morgan Stanley as lead underwriter. The pre-revenue company raised over $30 million from firms like Baker Brothers, Perceptive Advisors and ArrowMark Partners. www.kodiak.com
🚑 Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX) agreed to buy Augmenix, an Israeli developer of an injectable prostate cancer spacer, for upwards of $600 million (including $500m upfront). Augmenix had raised over $70 million in VC funding from firms like OrbiMed, Redmile Group, DCM, Emergence Capital, McKesson Ventures and Catholic Health Initiatives. http://axios.link/ezhb
• HNA Group of China is seeking a buyer for container leasing company Seaco, which could fetch around $1 billion, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/hyew
⛽ Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund hired Goldman Sachs to advise on the possible sale of its stake in petrochemicals company SABIC to Saudi Aramco, according to Reuters. http://axios.link/CXwI
• Science Applications International (NYSE: SAIC) agreed to buy U.S. defense contractor Engility (NYSE: EGL) for $1.5 billion in stock. http://axios.link/Ny9H
• Green Arrow Capital of Italy closed its third buyout fund with €231 million. http://axios.link/h69j
• Tim Broadbent, former head of U.S. leveraged loan syndicates at Barclays, has joined The Carlyle Group as head of a new debt financing group. http://axios.link/sTgu
• Suzana Peric, former head of EMEA loan distribution for Banco Santander, joined EQT Partners as a director in the firm’s credit unit. http://axios.link/3aE2
• Cory Steffek, Grant Haddix and James Wang all joined Houston-based Ara Partners. Steffak (ex-Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures) will serve as a managing director, Haddix (Shell) as an operating partner and Wang (First Reserve) as a principal. www.arapartners.com