Axios Pro Rata

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February 14, 2019

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Icons by Gan Khoon Lay via the Noun Project; Chart: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Venture capital is still very much a boys club, according to a new Axios analysis.

  • Only 9.65% of decision-makers at U.S. venture capital firms are women.
    • The breakdown was 105 women decision-makers out of an industry total of 1,088.
  • That's up from 8.93% in a similar analysis last year, and 7% in 2017. The 2016 mark was 5.7%.
  • We defined "decision-makers" as the top level of a firm's investment management, and excluded administrative positions like CFOs and heads of investor relations. In other words, people with checkbooks.
  • As in the past, we only included firms that had raised at least one fund of $100 million over the past five years (in this case, 2014-2018). That means the sample changes slightly each time. This year it included 284 firms. We also exclude corporate VC funds, since it's often unclear who makes final decisions.

Yes, progress is still very slow, even in a year that saw brand-name firms like Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark, Redpoint Ventures and Union Square Ventures add their first-ever women general partners.

  • A big part of that is that VC partnerships simply don't turn over too often, regardless of gender. But, that said, only 19% of the "added" decision-maker spots last year went to women.
  • Firms are clearly concerned about the optics, with more and more obfuscating job titles on their websites — including several who position junior-level females (including EAs) above the male general partners on their team pages.
  • Each time we do this, some Pro Rata readers email to say it's a waste of time. "Venture is a meritocracy, gender parity doesn't matter, etc." With all due respect, I don't respect such opinions.
  • The bottom line: Do better.

Status quo: The CEOs of Sprint and T-Mobile U.S. were on Capitol Hill yesterday, testifying on their proposed mobile mega-merger. The bottom line, per Axios' David McCabe, who was in the room:

Democratic lawmakers are clearly concerned about the deal. But there were no clear missteps by the executives. The deal still has a hill to climb, there just wasn’t one moment out of the hearings that changed the narrative around it.

🎧 Podcast: Our new episode focuses on California's high-speed rail fail, and why America seems unable to do large-scale infrastructure projects on-time and on-budget. Listen here.


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Levi Strauss & Co., the San Francisco-based jeans-maker, filed for a $100 million IPO. Expect that number to be a placeholder, with the WSJ reporting that Levi's plans to raise over $600 million at a valuation north of $3 billion.

  • Why it's the BFD: After 145 years, it remains by far the most popular seller of denim pants, with a market share that's three times as large as its closest rival.
  • Details: Levi's plans to trade on the NYSE (LEVI) with Goldman Sachs as lead underwriter. It reports steady net income of around $285 million over each of the past two fiscal years, with revenue climbing from $4.9 billion to $5.6 billion.
  • History: Levi's previously went public in 1971, raising $50 million in what at the time was one of the largest-ever IPOs. It then was taken private in 1984 for $1.7 billion by descendants of the company's namesake.
  • Bottom line: "Levi’s plans to continue investing in both its own stores and its wholesale network. Levi’s operates 824 standalone stores, including 74 opened last year, but still derives about two-thirds of its revenue from more than 50,000 locations operated by third parties in 110 countries (including sister brands Dockers and Denizen)." — Cathaleen Chen, Business of Fashion

Venture Capital Deals

Flow Kana, a Redwood City, Calif.-based distributor of sun-grown cannabis products, raised $125 million in Series B funding led by return backer Gotham Green Partners.

🚑 Vor Biopharma, a cell therapy startup focused on acute myeloid leukemia, raised $42 million in Series A funding. 5AM Ventures and RA Capital Management co-led, and were joined by J&J Innovation, Novartis, University Ventures and company founder PureTech Health (LSE: PRTC).

Malt, a French online marketplace for freelance engineers, raised €25 million. Idinvest Partners led, and was joined by return backers ISAI and Serena Capital.

🚑 Teckro, an Ireland-based software platform for clinical trials, raised $25 million in Series C funding. Northpond Ventures led, and was joined by Founders Fund, Sands Capital Ventures, Section 32 and Borealis Ventures.

Peltarion, a Sweden-based operational AI platform, raised $20 million in Series A funding. Euclidean Capital led, and was joined by return backers FAM and EQT Ventures.

🚑 Phylagen, a San Francisco-based microbiome data analytics startup, raised $14 million in Series A funding from Cultivian Sandbox, Breakout Ventures and Working Capital.

Inshur, a New York-based commercial auto insurance startup, raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Munich Re Ventures.

Polly, a Seattle-based provider of workflow measurement software, raised $7 million. Madrona Venture Group led, and was joined by return backers the Slack Fund, Amplify Partners and Fathom Capital.

Jitta, a Bangkok-based online investing app, raised $6.5 million in seed funding led by Beacon VC.

Aunt Fannie’s, a Portland, Ore.-based maker of cleaning and pest control products, raised $5 million from angels like Monica Nassif (Mrs. Myer’s), Stuart Erickson (Guggenheim) and Kay Hong (Proenza Schouler).

Private Equity Deals

Abacus Group, a New York-based portfolio company of WestView Capital Partners, acquired Proactive Technologies, a New York-based provider of IT services for alternative investment firms.

Astorg Partners acquired a control stake in Anaqua, a Boston-based provider of IP management solutions, from Insight Venture Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners.

• Bain Capital and The Carlyle Group are considering a joint takeover offer for Osram, a German lighting group with a current market cap north of $3.8 billion, per Reuters.

Bow River Capital agreed to acquire Kivu Consulting, a San Francisco-based cybersecurity consultant.

• Causeway Capital Partners agreed to buy British cake baker Patisserie Valerie out of administration.

🚑 HealthDrive, a Wellesley, Mass.-based portfolio company of Bain Capital, agreed to buy psychiatric care provider New England Geriatrics.

• Main Post Partners invested in DeMert Brands, the Tampa, Fla.-based parent company of Not Your Mother’s haircare products.

🚑 Sivantos, a German hearing aids maker owned by private equity firm EQT Partners, received EU approval for its $8.3 billion merger with Denmark's Widex.

Public Offerings

💍 Primo Japan, a Japanese jewelry company owned by Longreach Group, is considering an IPO, per Bloomberg.

Liquidity Events

Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba (NYSE: BABA), agreed to buy UK-based currency exchange WorldFirst from backers like FTV Capital. TechCrunch puts the price-tag at around $700 million.

More M&A

• Brightcove (Nasdaq: BCOV) agreed to buy the online video platform unit of Ooyala, a San Jose, Calif.-based company acquired by its management last year from Telstra.

• Canaccord Genuity Group (TSX: CF) agreed to buy New York-based M&A advisory Petsky Prunier for US$15 million upfront in stock nd up to US$40 million in earn-outs.

Mitsubishi Corp. (Tokyo: 8058) acquired a 20% stake in British power supplier OVO Energy for £200 million. Existing OVO backers include Mayfair Equity and Generation Investment Management.

• Rovio, the Helsinki-listed maker of Angry Birds, is seeking a buyer for Hatch Entertainment, the cloud-based gaming service in which it holds an 80% stake.


🚑 5AM Ventures, a bi-coastal life sciences VC firm, raised $350 million for its sixth flagship fund and nearly $150 million for its first opportunities fund.

• Idinvest Partners raised €340 million for its second growth equity fund focused on European companies.

• Intudo Ventures of Indonesia raised $50 million for its second fund.

• Open Prairie, an Effingham, Ill.-based private equity firm focused on rural opportunities, raised $81 million for its third fund.

• Spark Capital is raising $400 million for its sixth flagship fund and $800 million for its third growth equity fund, per SEC filings. They will be the firm's first funds to not include Todd Dagres as a general partner (he won't lead new investments going forward, but will continue to help with fundraising/strategy and sit on existing boards).

It's Personnel

• Hadley Wilkins is stepping down as head of marketing at Redpoint Ventures, per sources.

Final Numbers: Valentine's Day edition

Data: SurveyMonkey online poll; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios
Data: SurveyMonkey online poll; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios