Mar 3, 2017

Axios Pro Rata

It's A Spectacle

Snap yesterday opened trading at $24 per share, compared to its $17 IPO price, and peaked at $25.99 before closing at $24.28. Some notes:

Snapback? VCs have spent the past 18 months telling their later-stage portfolio companies to focus more on profitability, as the public markers no longer are receptive to "growth at all costs." But Snap is very much an unprofitable "growth at all costs" sort of company, and public investors slobbered all over it yesterday. This could post a serious challenge to newfound discipline among unicorns and their aspirants.

Early adopters: One of the huge winners is Lightspeed Venture Partners, whose $8.5 million in total investment was valued at nearly $1.5 billion at the IPO price. Lightspeed's Jeremy Liew tells Axios: "One of the things we've always looked for are companies that can become part of popular culture, and we believe that young women are the early adopters of pop culture. This is true if you look at Facebook or Instagram or Tumblr or even MySpace back in the day. We saw the same thing when we first met with Snap, and it has only solidified our belief that user adoption by young women is a good indicator of something that could go mainstream."

Terms: Jeremy Liew has been in the news a bit lately, following a NY Times story about how the onerous terms of Lightspeed's seed investment in Snap both: (1) Caused a still-lingering rift between Lieu and Snap CEO Evan Spiegel; and (2) Was the catalyst for Snap's super-voting rights. Liew has declined to speak specifically about the situation, although he did touch on it in the aforementioned Axios interview (basically saying that market terms for seed deals have since changed).

But here's a larger point: Spiegel & Co. are being hypocritical. The company, like many other unicorns, has put very strict restrictions on how employees and other early shareholders could sell stock pre-IPO. Snap didn't like Lightspeed putting a ROFR on its seed deal, because it reduced your financial flexibility? Okay, then why did you effectively do the exact same thing to your own people? Some major-league myopia there.

IPO buyer: CNBC reports that NBCUniversal pumped $500 million into the IPO, making it the only strategic investor to participate. [Note: NBC is an investor in Axios]

Ouch: At least some VCs have a sense of humor about missing out.

Iconoclast: Spiegel and other top Snap execs only did one post-listing interview (with the LA Times), bypassing the usual cable biz news stop. Instead, they reportedly headed over to Goldman Sachs, which was one of its top IPO managers (albeit not left lead, which was Morgan Stanley's spot).

The BFD: Grail raises $900 million

Grail, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based developer of blood tests to detect cancer at its earliest stages, has raised $900 million in Series B funding. ARCH Venture Partners and includes Johnson & Johnson Innovation co-led the round, which could grow even larger with Goldman Sachs serving as placement agent. Other backers include Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, Celgene, Tencent, Amazon, McKesson and Varian Medical Systems.

Why it's the BFD: Liquid biopsies are so hot right now. Just yesterday we mentioned how Freenome had raised $65 million for its own efforts. The potential breakthrough is screening otherwise-healthy people for cancer, which should significantly improve treatment efficacy. The complications include reimbursement and the medical argument that unncessary biopsies (i.e., for those healthy folks who don't have cancer in their furure) are needlessly dangerous.

Bottom line: "Grail needs the huge war chest to fund an exceedingly difficult quest. It is conducting large, long trials to test the worth of a blood test meant to catch cancer when it's most treatable—long before patients show any symptoms—by detecting fragments of cancer DNA shed by tumors." — Ben Fidler

Venture Capital Deals

• Paytm, an Indian ecommerce platform, has raised $200 million in new VC funding from Alibaba Group ($177m) and SAIF Partners.

• Upstart, a San Carlos, Calif.-based online lending platform focused on millennials, has raised $32.5 million in new VC funding. Rakuten and an unidentified U.S. asset manager co-led the round, and were joined by return backers Khosla Ventures, First Round Capital and Third Point Ventures.

• 24Tidy, a Shanghai-based on-demand laundry service, has raised $21 million in Series C funding from China Merchants VC, CITIC Securities and ICH Group (Singapore).

• Booksy, a booking app for hairdressers and other appointment-based businesses, has raised $4.2 million in Series A funding. OpenOcean led the round, and was joined by Investible, Nomad Fund and individual angels.

• 2nd Watch, a Seattle-based management cloud company, has raised $19 million in Series D funding. Delta-v Capital led the round, and was joined by return backers Madrona Venture Group, Columbia Capital and Top Tier Capital Partners.

• Sensibill, a Toronto-based, has raised C$17.3 million in Series A funding co-led by Information Venture Partners and the OpenText Enterprise Apps Fund.

• Surefire Medical, a Westminster, Colo.-based provider of site-specific delivery devices for the interventional oncology market, has held a first close on a $12.8 million in Series D funding led by ORI Healthcare Fund.

• Boragen, a Research Triangle Park-based synthetic chemistry platform focused on developing fungicides for agriculture, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. Backers include Alexandria Venture Investments, ARCH Venture Partners, Bayer, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Elanco Animal Health, Flagship Pioneering, Hatteras Venture Partners, Mountain Group Capital, Pappas Capital and Syngenta Ventures.

• Nimble, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based provider of social sales and marketing CRM solutions, has raised $9 million in Series A funding. Imagen Capital Partners led the round, and was joined by Radical Investments, GV, Indicator Ventures, Jason Calacanis, Howard Lindzon and Don Dodge.

• OpenRent, a London-based online realtor, has raised £4.4 million in new VC funding from Global Founders Capital (an affiliate of Rocket Internet).

• HowGood, a New York-based database of sustainable food and consumer products ratings, has raised $4.2 million in Series A funding. Backers include FirstMark Capital, Contour Venture, Serious Change, Great Oaks Venture, High Line Venture Partners, Jake Lodwick and Joanne Wilson.

• Amper, a developer of AI-powered music composition software, has raised $4 million in new VC funding. Two Sigma Ventures led the round, and was joined by Foundry Group, Kiwi Venture Partners and Advancit Capital.

• C3 IoT, a Redwood City, Calif.-based Internet-of-Things platform, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series E funding at a $1.4 billion pre-money valuation. Breyer Capital led the round, and was joined by Breyer Capital, TPG, Sutter Hill, Wildcat Venture Partners, Pat House and Thomas Siebel.

Private Equity Deals

• Appalachian Railcar Services, an Eleanor, West Va.-based provider of rail services, has raised an undisclosed amount of private equity funding from GenNx360 Capital Partners.

• The Carlyle Group has agreed to acquire Arctic Glacier Group, a Canadian packaged ice company, from H.I.G. Capital for a reported US$723 million. H.I.G. had bought the company out of bankruptcy in 2012.

• General Information Services, a Chapin, S.C.-based provider of background screening and talent acquisition services, has secured an undisclosed amount of growth equity funding from General Atlantic.

• Industrial Growth Partners has acquired IOTA Engineering, a Tucson, Ariz.-based maker of back-up power safety equipment for emergency lighting applications. No financial terms were disclosed.

• J.C. Flowers has agreed to acquire UK General, a British provider of personal lines insurance. No financial terms were disclosed.

• KKR has held talks about putting together a buyout consortium for nutritional supplements retailer GNC (NYSE: GNC) which has a current market cap of around $540 million, according to Dealreporter.

Shares +8% premarket• Mainland Poultry of New Zealand is receiving early takeover interest from Archer Capital, Bain Capital, CHAMP Private Equity and Pacific Equity Partners, according to The Australian. A deal for the poultry producer could be valued at upwards of A$400 million.

• Vestar Capital Partners has agreed to acquire Edward Don & Co., a Woodridge, Ill.-based distributor of foodservice equipment and supplies. No financial terms were disclosed for the deal, which is expected to close later this quarter.

• Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe has acquired Intoxalock, a Des Moines, Iowa-based provider of interlock devices and accompanying driver monitoring services, from ClearLight Partners. No financial terms were disclosed.

Public Offerings

• Canada Goose, an outerwear maker and retailer owned by Bain Capital, has set its IPO terms to 20 million shares being offered at between C$14 and $16 per share. It plans to trade on both the NYSE and Toronto Stock Exchange. CBIC Capital Markets is listed as left lead underwriter for Canada Goose, which reports $45 million of net income on $353 million in revenue for the last nine months of 2016.

Liquidity Events

• Euromoney Institutional Investor (LSE: ERM) has agreed to acquire RISI, a Bedford, Mass.-based information provider for the global forest products market, from AXIO Group, a London-based portfolio company of Empris. The deal is valued at $125 million.

• Otsuka Pharmaceutical has agreed to acquire Neurovance, a Cambridge, Mass.-based developer of ADHD drugs. The deal is valued at upwards of $150 million (including $100m upfront). Neurovance has raised over $25 million in VC funding from Novartis, Venture Investors, Tekla Healthcare Investors, GBS Venture Partners and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board.

• SFW Capital Partners has agreed to sell Essen BioScience, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based provider of cell-based assays and instrumentation for drug discovery, to Germany's Sartorius (Frankfurt: SRT).

More M&A

• Bayer (DB) BAYN) raised $1.5 billion by selling shares in chemicals subsidiary Covestro (DB: 1COV), which cut its stake down to 53.3%. The move was done to raise cash for Bayer's pending purchase of Monsanto (NYSE: MON).

• BP (LSE: BP) has agreed to acquire the biomethane business of Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (Nasdaq: CLNE) for $155 million.

• Hudson's Bay (TSX: HBC), owner of retailers Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue, "has yet to line up equity financing for a bid" for Macy's (NYSE: M), one month after approaching the department store operator, per Reuters.

• Mitsui Financial Group and Resona Holdings, both of Japan, have agreed to combine their regional banks.

• Toshiba Corp. has hired UBS to explore a sale of its 60% stake in Swiss smart metering group Landis+Gyr, which could be worth around $2 billion, according to Reuters. The remaining 40% position is held by Innovation Network Corp.


• 3i Group has completed the previously-announced sale of its debt management business to Investcorp.

• Baring PE India is seeking to raise $75 million for its fourth fund, with a green-shoe for India LPs that could double that total, per VCCircle.

• Cerberus Capital Management has closed its third middle-market direct lending fund with $2.05 billion in capital commitments.

• Hosen Capital, a Chinese private equity firm focused on "consumption driven opportunities in food and agribusiness," has closed its third fund with $440 million in capital commitments. Eaton Partners served as placement agent.

• J.F. Lehman & Co., a private equity firm focused on the aerospace, defense and maritime markets, has closed its fourth fund with $833 million in capital commitments.

• Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC) has launched a cybersecurity-focused corporate VC group.

It's Personnel

• Gil Tollinchi has joined Golub Capital to focus on the firm's broadly syndicated loans business, according to LevFin Insights He previously was managing director and head of trading at Crescent Capital Group.

Final Numbers: Effective Fed Funds Rate