Axios Pro Rata

A green watering can with a dollar sign painted on it.

April 26, 2017

A bit of different format this morning, and also an invite: Next Tuesday morning in D.C., Axios will be hosting a breakfast on the intersection of business and societal good, featuring Mike Allen interviews of Jim Robinson Jr. (RRE Ventures managing partner), Kathy Calvin (UN Foundation CEO) and Bob Sutor (VP of blockchain and quantum solutions at IBM Research). RSVP by going here.

A "super angel" says goodbye

Chris Sacca, one of the earliest investors in companies like Uber and Twitter, today will announce that he has decided to stop making investments in technology startups. This also means he will stop appearing on the television program Shark Tank and that his venture capital firm, Lowercase Capital, will not raise another fund.

Why retire? Sacca tells Axios that, at age 41 with two kids, he no longer feels he can devote the 24-7 time to his startups. "The only way I know how to do this is full-time, or really all the time, because I take my companies so personally and feel the need to help them as much as possible. I know there are people who can successfully do this as more of a lifestyle career, but that's just not me."

Bio: Sacca is a former Google lawyer who became one of Silicon Valley's first "super angels," a group of individual investors who raised outside capital to back companies before they were mature enough for mainstream venture capital. He also would become known for raising special purpose vehicles to buy up pre-IPO stock in Twitter, and at one point appeared to have the best-performing VC fund of all time. He became an occasional "shark" on Shark Tank in 2015.

Backstory: In 1995 Sacca was in school in Ireland, and passed time in class by trading "10 questions" notes with a girl across the aisle. One of her questions was what Sacca wanted to do when he grew up. He had forgotten about the question and his answer until he and his wife found the old notebook a year or so ago. It basically laid out Sacca's future career, saying that he'd do something high-risk/high-reward, spend half his time in the mountains (Sacca is known for his startup jams in Truckee) and that, at age 40, he'd stop and do something he cares about more. "My wife and I read that and just stared at each other," he says.

What's next: Sacca says he is interested in entertainment, and has nabbed a recurring role on a new Zach Braff sitcom (if it gets picked up). He also plans to launch a podcast (not focused on startups) and has had conversation about a variety of other television projects. Finally, Sacca ― who says he will never run for elected office ― says he is a stalwart member of "the resistance" who is working with potential 2018 and 2020 candidates. There also are some side projects in the works around climate change and criminal justice.

Firm future: Sacca's Lowercase Capital partner Matt Mazzeo will continue to manage out the existing portfolio and serve on a handful of related boards, but there are not yet details on his future plans (he declined comment via email). Don't be surprised, however, if Mazzeo continues investing under a different banner. It's also worth noting that Lowercase only collects management fees during the first two years of fund life, so there is no expected fee drag.

Trumpland talk

A couple other notes...

• White House Capital: Ivanka Trump tells Axios' Mike Allen that she is working to build a large investment fund that will focus on women entrepreneurs around the world. She says that early commitments already have come from some government-linked investors in Canada, Germany and the Middle East, with a focus on small and mid-sized enterprises. We've working to get more info.

• Coming attractions: Today is tax plan day, or at least top-level tax outline day. So far we know that President Trump will be asking Congress for a 15% corporate rate and also a major cut on "pass through" business income. The latter is being positioned as a boon for small businesses but, as Pro Rata readers know, it also would lower taxes on many private equity partnerships. Or, put another way, concerns over Trump raising taxes on alternatives managers via killing the carried interest loophole seem to be in the rearview mirror.

Venture Capital Deals

• Robinhood, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based maker of a stock trading app, has raised $110 million in new VC funding at a $1.3 billion valuation. DST Global led the round, and was joined by Greenoaks Capital, Thrive Capital, NEA, Index Ventures and Ribbit Capital.

• AltheaDx Inc., a San Diego-based personalized medicine company, has raised $27 million in Series D funding. No investors were disclosed, but existing shareholders include WuXi Healthcare Ventures, Ally Bridge Group and ALMA Life Sciences.

• EpimAb Biotherapeutics, a Shanghai-based biospecific antibody developer, has raised $25 million in Series A funding. Oriza Seed Capital led the round, and was joined by Decheng Capital, 3E Bioventures Capital and the Trend Investment Group.

• Two Pore Guys, a Santa Cruz, Calif.-based developer of handheld, single-molecule sensing platform, has raised $24.5 million in Series A funding led by Khosla Ventures.

• RapidSOS, a New York-based emergency and public safety tech startup, has raised $14 million in Series A funding. Highland Capital Partners led the round, and was joined by A3 Ventures, Westly Group, Two Sigma Ventures, Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, Responder Ventures, and former FCC chairs Tom Wheeler, Julius Genachowski and Dennis Patrick.

• Yuedongquan, a Shenzhen-based mobile fitness app maker, has raised $14 million in Series C funding. Nokia Growth Partners led the round, and was joined by Xiaomi.

• Quovo, a New York-based data analytics platform for financial accounts, has raised $10 million in Series B funding. F-Prime Capital and Napier Park Financial Partners co-led the round, and were joined by FinTech Collective and Long Light Capital.

• MarcoPolo Learning, a New York-based developer of mobile early childhood education solutions, has raised $8.5 million in series A funding. Boat Rocker Ventures led the round, and was joined by Horizons Ventures, Seedcamp and managing partners of DST Global.

• Nutriati, a Richmond, Va.-based developer of plant-based food ingredients, has raised $8 million in VC funding led by Tate & Lyle Ventures.

• Sense360, a Los Angeles-based provider of customer data analytics to fast-food restaurants, has raised $7 million in Series A funding. FirstMark Capital led the round, and was joined by Qualcomm Ventures and Upfront Ventures.

• Circle Pharma, a South San Francisco-based developer of macrocyclic peptide therapeutics, has raised a total of $6.5 million in Series A funding. Mission Bay Capital led the round, and was joined by Pfizer, ShangPharma Investment Group, WI Harper Group, Elements Partners, Whitesun Healthcare Ventures and LifeForce Capital.

• Faasos Food Services, an Indian food delivery platform, has raised around $6.2 million in VC funding from Lightbox Ventures, Sequoia Capital India, RuNet South Asia and RB Investments.

• Dave, a Los Angeles-based AI tool for preventing bank account overdrafts, has raised $3 million in seed funding from Mark Cuban, SV Angel, The Chernin Group, Jonathan Kraft, Skip Paul and Diplo.

• Deck Commerce, a St. Louis-based SaaS e-commerce operations platform, has raised $2 million in VC funding from Arsenal Capital Management.

• POPxo, an Indian women-centric digital community, has raised $3.1 million in Series B funding. IDG Ventures India and Kalaari Capital co-led the round, and were joined by GREE Ventures, Summit Media and individual angels.

• Lizhiweike, a Shenzhen-based mobile education app, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding. Banyan Capital led the round, and was joined by GSR Ventures.

Private Equity Deals

• Gauge Capital has sponsored a recapitalization of Pediatric Dental Providers, a provider of pediatric dental and orthodontic services to commercial and Medicaid patients in the western U.S. No financial terms were disclosed.

• KKR and Japan Industrial Partners have agreed to acquire chipmaker Hitachi Kokusai Electric from Hitachi (Tokyo: 6501) via a tender offer. The deal would be worth more than $1.8 billion.

• KKR has invested $70 million for a minority equity stake in Ivalua, a French provider of cloud-based business procurement software.

Kuiu, a Dixon, Calif.-based hunting gear retailer, has raised $50 million in minority equity funding from Main Post Partners.

• Littlejohn Capital has acquired Maysteel Industries, an Allenton, Wis.-based manufacturer of sheet metal enclosures, from Revolution Capital Group. No financial terms were disclosed.

• Oak Hill Capital Partners has completed its previously-announced $525 million purchase of fast food chains Checkers & Rally's Restaurants from Sentinel Capital Partners.

• Vertafore, a Bothell, Wash.-based insurance tech company owned by Bain Capital and Vista Equity Partners, has acquired RiskMatch, a Greenwich, Conn.-based provider of portfolio management and placement solutions for insurance brokers and carriers. No financial terms were disclosed. Sellers include Wildcat Venture Partners.

Public Offerings

• Dole Food Co., a Westlake Village, Calif.-based fruit and vegetable company, has filed for a $100 million IPO that Renaissance Capital estimates could ultimately garner around $400 million. Morgan Stanley is listed as left leader underwriter for the company, which reports a $23 million net loss on around $4.5 billion of revenue in 2016.

• Tivit, a Brazilian IT services provider owned by Apax Partners, filed paperwork for a São Paulo IPO.

• TPG RE Finance Trust, a commercial mortgage REIT managed by TPG Capital, has filed for a $100 million IPO that Renaissance Capital estimates could ultimately garner $1 billion. It plans to trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol TRTX, with BofA Merrill Lynch listed as left lead underwriter.

Liquidity Events

• Cerberrus Capital Management is selling down 25 million shares of Japanese railway operator Seibu Holdings (Tokyo: 9024) for upwards of $446 million, according to IFR.

• CITIC Capital has agreed to sell its stake in Polymatech, a Japanese manufacturer of polymer parts, to Sekisui Chemical Co. and Inabata & Co. No financial terms were disclosed.

• Encore Consumer Capital has completed its previously-announced sale of Boulder, Colo.-based snackmaker Thanasi Foods to Conagra Brands (NYSE: CAG) for an undisclosed amount.

• Francisco Partners has agreed to sell Paymetric, an Atlanta-based provider of B2B payment workflow automation solutions, to Vantiv (NYSE: VNTV). No financial terms were disclosed.

More M&A

• BHP Billiton has put its Arkansas share gas assets back on the block, after having failed to sell them two years ago, according to Reuters.

• Credit Suisse said that is plans to raise $4 billion in fresh capital via a share sale, and that it no longer will pursue a sale of part of its Swiss banking unit.

• Deckers Outdoors (NYSE: DECK), the owner of UGG brand boots and apparel, has hired Moelis & Co. to seek strategic alternatives that could include a sale, according to Reuters. The Goleta, Calif.-based company has a current market cap of nearly $1.9 billion.

• HSBC and RBS are discussing a merger of their Saudi businesses, which would create the country's third-largest lender with $78 million in AUM.


Grayscale Investments, manager of the Bitcoin Investment Trust, is launching a new fund called the Ethereum Classic Investment Trust, seeded by $10 million from Grayscale CEO Barry Silbert, Silber's digital Currency Group and Silver Lake co-founder Glenn Hutchins. It will only hold Ethereum Classic tokens (ETC), without trading or leverage.

• Lightsmith Group, a new private equity firm founded by Siguler Guff partner Jay Koh, plans to raise a fund dedicated to mitigating threats from global climate change, per Dow Jones.

• Singapore's government is forming a $718 million growth equity fund in partnership with local private equity firm Makara Capital, to invest in Singapore-based tech companies that plan to expand overseas.

• South Korea's Financial Services Commission plans to form a $7 billion special situations fund that will co-invest with private equity firms.

• Warburg Pincus is targeting $1.6 billion for its first fund dedicated to the financial services sector, per Bloomberg.

It's Personnel

• Paula Drake has joined HarbourVest Partners as a managing director and general counsel. She is a former SEC officer who most recently led compliance for Och-Ziff Capital Management.

Roberto Rittes, a former principal with H.I.G. Capital, has joined NII Holdings (Nasdaq: NIHD) as CEO of Nextel Brazil.

Final Numbers