Top of the Morning
South Korea this morning announced plans to ban cryptocurrency trading, causing price tumult for everything from Bitcoin to Ethereum to AxiosCoin.
[Okay, I made that last one up. But admit it: You thought, for just a second, that it might be real].
Government officials later walked back their announcement a bit, but it's just another reminder that central authorities are eventually going to play a role in decentralized finance.
- I'm in the midst of a piece on crypto offerings, and why I believe it's more likely that ICOs will eventually look more like traditional venture capital than the other way around. Please be sure to email me your two tokens on the matter.
- Last year there was over $8 billion raised via initial coin offerings. It took the venture capital industry nearly 50 years to hit that annual volume (admittedly, not adjusted for inflation), assuming you date its founding to either George Doriot or the Fairchild Semiconductor deal.
• Shedding ivy: Rich Hall has stepped down as head of private equity investing for Harvard University's $36 billion endowment, as we first scooped on the site yesterday. His next gig will be as deputy CIO at the University of Texas Management Co., which basically means he gets to return to Austin (where, before joining Harvard in 2014, he led private equity for Texas Teachers).
- Why it matters: Harvard is one of the oldest institutional investors in venture capital and private equity, but has now gone through three bosses in less than five years. And there is not yet any word on a successor for Hall, whose tenure will go down as most notable for completing a large secondary sale.
• Winner winner, choco dinner: Italy’s Ferrero has won the auction for Nestlé’s US confectionery business, beating out both Hershey and Rhone Capital with a $2.8 billion bid, per the FT.
• YouTube rec: The techlash has just begun
• New note: Avid Larizadeh Duggan has stepped down as a general partner with Google Ventures, in order to become head of global business strategy and development for GV portfolio company Kobalt Music.
- Duggan's departure leaves the group without any women in general partner roles. It also means that GV is down to just one general partner in Europe, whereas it had four just 18 months ago.
- She tells Axios that she had been itching to do something more entrepreneurial and that she "fell in love" with Kobalt: "It has an impact on every person on the planet, because everyone listens to at least some music."
• Where in the World? I'll be in Los Angeles later this month for the sold-0ut Upfront Summit, where I'll interview former Treasury Secretary (and current Warburg Pincus president) Tim Geithner. Hope to see some of you there...
Xerox Corp. (NYSE: XRX) is in talks with longtime joint venture partner Fujifilm (Tokyo: 4901) about a deal that could include a change of control at Xerox, according to the WSJ.
- Why it's the BFD: Because this could give Xerox shareholder Carl Icahn exactly what he's been asking for. It also would be part of a broader inorganic growth strategy for Fujifilm, at a time when weaker U.S. rival Kodak is climbing aboard the blockchain lifeboat (see Final Numbers below).
- Bottom line: "When Fujifilm first started a joint venture in photocopiers with Xerox more than 55 years ago, the Japanese company was in the shadow of its famous U.S. partner. Now, the positions are reversed: Fujifilm has reinvented itself after the fall of film and is in good health, while a decline in office printing has left Xerox languishing." — WSJ
Venture Capital Deals
• Pagoda, a Chinese fresh fruit e-commerce company, has raised around $230 million in Series B funding from Co-Stone Capital, Source Code Capital, Shenzhen Capital Group, Zhongzhi Capital, Zhongjin Zhide Equity Investment Management and Yuexiu Industrial Fund. http://axios.link/dIzq
• Ladder, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based life insurance startup, has raised $30 million in Series B funding. RRE Ventures led, and was joined by Thomvest Ventures and return backers Canaan Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Nyca Partners. http://axios.link/pwzx
• Unbabel, a Lisbon-based translation platform, has raised $23 million in Series B funding. Scale Venture Partners led, and was joined by Microsoft Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, Samsung Next, Notion Capital, Caixa Capital, and Funders Club. http://axios.link/DpiE
• Arctic Wolf, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based security operations center-as-a-service company, has raised $16 million in new funding. Sonae Investment Management led, and was joined by Lightspeed Venture Partners, Redpoint Ventures and Knollwood Investment Advisory. http://axios.link/4kuQ
• Nozomi Networks, a San Francisco-based cybersecurity company focused on industrial control systems, has raised $15 million in Series B funding. Invenergy Future Fund led, and was joined by THI Investments and return backers GGV Capital, Lux Capital and Planven Investments. http://axios.link/dih9
• NiYO Solutions, an Indian payroll and employee benefits management platform, has raised $13.2 million in Series A funding from Social Capital, JS Capital, Horizons Ventures and Prime Venture Partners. http://axios.link/9owo
• Petal, a New York-based “first credit card” provider, has raised $13 million from Valar Ventures. http://axios.link/OukJ
• YieldStreet, a New York-based alternative investment platform, has raised $12.8 million in Series A funding. Greycroft and Raine Ventures co-led, and were joined by Saturn Ventures, Expansion Venture Capital and FJ Labs. The company also secured a $100 million revolving credit facility from an unidentified family office. www.yieldstreet.com
• Reviver Auto, a Foster City, Calif.-based developer of digital license plates, has raised $11.1 million in funding. ACK Group led, and was joined by WRV. http://axios.link/TjUX
🚑 TAI Diagnostics, a Milwaukee-based developer of diagnostic tests for monitoring the health of transplanted organs, has raised $10 million in Series A funding from undisclosed backers. www.taidiagnostics.com
• SkySpecs, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based provider of infrastructure inspection via drones, has raised $8 million in Series B funding. Germany’s Statfrakt Ventures led, and was joined by UL Ventures, Capital Midwest Fund and return backers Venture Investors and Huron River Ventures. http://axios.link/i5nE
• Cardlay, a Denmark-based credit card and expense management platform, has raised $5 million in new funding from SEED Capital and SEB Venture Capital. www.cardlay.com
Harver, a New York-based provider of recruitment software, has raised $4.2 million in new Series A funding led by Insight Venture Partners. www.harver.com
• FieldIn, an Israeli ag-analytics startup for monitoring pesticide use, has raised $4 million in VC funding. Gal Ventures and Germin8 Ventures co-led, and were joined by Terra Ventures. http://axios.link/ez5s
• Sync-Think, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based developer of eye-tracking technology for use in diagnosing concussions, has raised $3.5 million in Series A-1 funding led by Quadrant Management. http://axios.link/nYxk
• Ovation.io, a Cambridge, Mass.-based clinical lab information and commercialization platform, has raised $1.85 million in funding co-led by StageDotO and Longfellow Ventures. www.ovation.io
• Sheprd, a Newton, Mass.-based on-demand school bus service, has raised $1 million from the corporate VC arm of Jaguar Land Rover. www.sheprd.us
🚑 Adapsyn Bioscience, a Canadian developer of a bioinformatics platform for drug discovery, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Pfizer and Genesys Capital. It also has signed a research collaboration deal with Pfizer that could be worth upwards of US$162 million. http://axios.link/kp4w
• Hyundai invested an undisclosed amount as part of Grab's recent funding round of at least $2 billion, the Southeast Asian ride-hailing company revealed on Thursday.
Private Equity Deals
• Akzo Nobel has a short-list for its chemicals unit, which could be valued at around $12 billion, according to Bloomberg: Apollo Global Management, The Carlyle Group, Hal Investments and a joint bid from Bain Capital and Advent International. http://axios.link/Ku46
• Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group are among the bidders for Hong Kong-based iPhone recycler Li Tong Group, which is being sold by Olympus Capital Asia for upwards of $1 billion, according to Bloomberg. http://axios.link/o1r2
• Blacksmith Applications, a Lawrence, Mass.-based portfolio company of Strattam Capital, has acquired GoSimple, an Oldsmar, Fla.-based provider of a leading provider of foodservice trade promotion management solutions. www.blacksmithapplications.com
• Congruex, a Boulder, Colo.-based portfolio company of CrestView Partners, has acquired CHC Consulting, an Orange, Calif.-based engineering consulting firm. www.chcconsulting.com
⛽ CVC Capital Partners has expressed interest in acquiring a 20% stake in listed Spanish utility Gas Natural from Repsol. http://axios.link/z4TO
• Four Rivers, a joint venture of WL Ross & CO. and China BaoWu Steel Group, has recapitalized China’s Chongqing Steel. www.wlross.com
🚑 Sheridan Capital Partners has acquired SpendMend, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based provider of spend visibility and audit recovery services to the healthcare industry. www.spendmend.com
🍍 Dole Food Co., a Westlake Village, Calif.-based fruit and vegetable company, has withdrawn registration for an IPO it filed earlier this year. No explanation was provided. Belgium’s Greenyard recently was in talks to buy Dole Food, which reported a $23 million net loss on around $4.5 billion of revenue in 2016, but this week said the negotiations had broken off. http://axios.link/qbVQ
• PagSeguro, a Brazilian provider of payment solutions for online and offline small businesses, set its IPO terms to 92.1 million shares being offered at $17.50 to $20.50 per share. It would have a fully-diluted market value of around $5.8 billion, at the middle of its range. The company plans to trade on the NYSE under ticker PAGS, with Goldman Sachs serving as lead underwriter.
• Google has bought Redux, a British developer of technology for turning surfaces like phone screens into speakers. Sellers included Arie Ventures. http://axios.link/qrj6
• Intesa SanPaolo (Milan: ISP) said that it in talks to sell is bad loan portfolio and debt collection business to Sweden’s Intrum Justitia. http://axios.link/gkvM
• Sinclair Broadcast Group (Nasdaq: SBGI) reportedly may sell around 10 television stations to 21st Century Fox (Nasdaq: FOXA), in an effort to win regulatory approval for its takeover of Tribune Media. http://axios.link/8lWN
• SS&C Technologies (Nasdaq: SSNC) has agreed to acquire Kansas City-based information processing company DST Systems (NYSE: DST) for $5.4 billion in cash, or $84 per share (29% premium to Tuesday’s close). http://axios.link/6btG
• Peak Rock Capital has closed its second middle-market private equity fund with $1.3 billion in capital commitments. www.peakrockcapital.com
• Social Leverage Capital, an early-stage VC firm whose partners include Hoeard Lindzon, is raising up to $50 million for its third fund, per an SEC filing. www.socialleverage.com
• Truffle Capital of Paris has raised $102 million for a new biotech-focused VC fund. http://axios.link/qqgo
- Go deeper: Kodak develops a blockchain experiment