Top of the Morning
The college bribery scandal may have just begun its freshman year, with all sorts twists and turns to come.
Lightspeed Venture Partners fired Chris Schaepe, who joined LSVP's predecessor firm in 1991, after informing his partners about having hired college admissions "coach" Rick Singer to help his son.
- Schaepe has not been charged with any crime.
- He "donated" a whopping $630,000 to Singer's nonprofit foundation, which appears to have been little more than a payoff laundry. We know this because Schaepe's son is referred to in the federal case against former University of Texas tennis coach Michael Center.
- This is on top of whatever he paid Singer for more traditional college coaching services, which we hear did not include standardized test aid.
- At best, this is a head-shaking failure of due diligence by someone who gets paid handsomely to conduct due diligence.
- Per Schaepe's spox: "We are deeply disturbed that the person we had trusted to guide us through the college application process was engaged in inappropriate acts. Like countless other families, we believed that his services and his foundation were all above board, and we are shocked by his deception.”
- Lightspeed was heavily criticized in 2017 over its response to allegations that one of its partners had sexually harassed several female entrepreneurs, prior to him leaving Lightspeed to form a new firm. Lightspeed may not have wanted to risk its reputation being damaged for a second time, even if it means firing a longtime, founding partner who has not been arrested.
- Go deeper on the Schaepe situation.
Former TPG executive Bill McGlashan yesterday began to lay out his defense, via a court filing that ostensibly was about recovering his confiscated passport.
- McGlashan claims that he never paid for his oldest son to be granted college admission via a so-called "side door," and that he only shelled out for legal college coaching services. He adds that his son is currently a senior in high school who has withdrawn all of his college applications.
- McGlashan's filing does not address the alleged standardized test cheating, nor wiretapped phone conversations in which he does appear to discuss the "side-door" arrangement with Singer.
- TPG co-CEO Jon Winkelried tells Bloomberg that the firm "has undertaken an internal investigation to see if [McGlashan's] activities bled into parts of the business."
- Go deeper here, including his filing.
This isn't over. Singer claimed in court to have helped over 750 kids through the "side door," and the FBI and DOJ have all of those "nonprofit" receipts. And it's entirely possible that some parents didn't realize which door they were paying for until it was too late.
- One of Singer's former tutors, who now works as a Los Angeles attorney, tells me about a client call Singer took while the two of them were in the same car.
- Singer told the client that he owed more money than he had already paid, owing to the client's daughter being accepted into Georgetown. The client said he'd already paid, but Singer said that was only for standard services, not for the "side door."
- When the client objected, Singer suggested that he could get the acceptance rescinded as easily as he got it granted. Was the money really worth devastating his daughter, Singer allegedly asked the client?
- The ex-tutor adds that of the 20 to 30 or so students he worked with, he believes only five or six used the "side door" — coming to that conclusion based on where they were accepted, in the context of their applications.
🎧 Pro Rata Podcast: Our new episode focuses on how enterprise software is mimicking consumer software, including a conversation with ServiceNow (and ex-eBay) CEO John Donahoe. Listen here.
ATAI Life Sciences, a German biotech startup focused on depression and other mental health disorders, raised $43 million in Series B funding. Subversive Capital led, and was joined by return backers like Apeiron Investment Group and Bail Capital.
- Why it's the BFD: Because it's the largest-ever venture round for a developer of psychedelic medicines, and comes after the FDA approved Johnson & Johnson's use of a different psychedelic agent for treating depression.
- Bottom line: "After recreational use of psychedelics became popular in the 1960s, the U.S. government classified most of them "drugs of abuse" with no real medical value. However, recent clinical studies show mounting evidence that some psychedelics can help patients with certain mental illnesses." — Christina Farr, CNBC
Venture Capital Deals
• Kyriba, a San Diego-based provider of cloud treasury and financial management software, said that it’s in “advanced talks” to raise $160 million from Bridgepoint at a $1.2 billion valuation. www.kyriba.com
• PayIt, a Kansas City-based constituent engagement platform for state and local governments, raised over $100 million from Insight Partners (fka Insight Venture Partners). http://axios.link/BZmw
• Casper, a New York-based direct-to-consumer mattress maker, raised $100 million in Series D funding at a $1.1 billion valuation from return backers NEA, IVP, Target and Norwest Venture Partners. Yesterday there were reports that the company is interviewing IPO bankers. http://axios.link/6rZX
🚑 Prevail Therapeutics, a New York-based gene therapy startup focused on Parkinson’s disease, raised $50 million in Series B funding. Surveyor Capital and AbbVie were joined by retuen backers OrbiMed, Pontifax, RA Capital Management, Adage Capital, Boxer Capital, EcoR1 Capital, Omega Funds, BVF Partners and Alexandria Venture Investments. http://axios.link/NmRH
• Kong, a San Francisco-based core API management and lifecycle management startup, raised $43 million in Series C funding. Index Ventures led, and was joined by GGV Capital, World Innovation Lab and return backers Andreessen Horowitz and CRV. http://axios.link/48zU
🚑 Polyneuron Pharmaceuticals, a Swiss developer of biodegradable glycopolymers for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, raised $22.6 million in Series A funding co-led by Sofinnova Partners and NEA. http://axios.link/f4XD
• CB4, an Israeli provider of predictive analytics to physical retrailers, raised $16 million in Series B funding. Octopus Ventures led, and was joined by Sonae IM and return backers Sequoia Capital and Pereg Ventures. http://axios.link/XSDc
• Proxy, a San Francisco-based developer of a Bluetooth identity layer, raised $13.6 million in Series A funding led by Kleiner Perkins. http://axios.link/oQ5X
• Empowered Education, a New York-based operator of online schools for wellness coaches and health practitioners, raised $8 million in Series A funding from Rethink Education. www.empowered-edu.com
• Spike, a San Francisco-based conversational email app, raised $5 million from Wix, Koa Labs and NFX. http://axios.link/Wrxl
🚑 Biolinq, a San Diego-based developer of a biosensor patch,, raised $4.75 million from JDRF T1D Fund, Aphelion Capital and LifeSci Venture Partners. www.biolinq.me
• Artiphon, a Nashville-based maker of a digital musical instrument, raised $2 million in seed funding led by Warner Music Group. http://axios.link/DDoy
• Trellis Research, a Los Angeles-based provider of litigation research software, raised $2 million in seed funding led by Okapi Venture Capital. http://axios.link/jdwK
Private Equity Deals
• The Carlyle Group and TA Associates acquired Weiman Products, the Gurnee, Ill.-based maker of Goo Gone cleaning products and Oops! Paint remover, from Cortec Group. http://axios.link/8iUo
• ClearCourse, a London-based portfolio company of Aquiline Capital Partners, acquired Circdata, a provider of event technology. www.clearcoursellp.com
• O2B Kids, a Gainesville, Fla.-based portfolio company of Spire Capital, acquired The Village Academy, an early education provider with three facilities in St. Augustine, Florida. www.o2bkids.com
• Resilience Capital Partners acquired Systron Donner Inertial, a Concord, Calif.-based supplier of quartz microelectromechanical systems. www.systron.com
⛽ SK Holdings of South Korea agreed to invest $300 million into Blue Racer Midstream, a midstream company in the Utica and Marcellus Shale plays that is owned by First Reserve. http://axios.link/CHfH
• TPG Capital is among those bidding to buy Sports Illustrated from Meredith Corp. (NYSE: MDP), per the NY Post.
• Lyft increased the price range for its IPO from $62–$69 per share to $70–$72 per share, while maintaining the number of offered shares at 30.77 million. At the high end of its range, the ride-hail company would have an initial market cap of $20.5 billion and a fully diluted valuation of nearly $30 billion. It is expected to price tonight and begin trading tomorrow on the Nasdaq (LYFT).
🚑 Precision BioSciences, a Durham, N.C.-based developer of a genome editing platform, raised $126 million in its IPO. The company priced 7.9 million shares at $16 (middle of range), for a a fully-diluted market value of $881 million. It will trade on the Nasdaq (DTIL), J.P. Morgan was lead underwriter and had raised around $240 million in VC funding from firms like VenBio (11% pre-IPO stake), Flare Capital Partners (9.7%), ArrowMark Partners and Franklin Templeton.
• Vrio, an AT&T-owned provider of digital entertainment services in South America, formally withdrew IPO registration after having indefinitely postponed the $653 million offering last April. http://axios.link/KCkY
⛽ The Blackstone Group and LLOG Exploration are seeking bids for Bluewater, an oil exploration joint venture that could fetch between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/Hyb6
• Mailchimp, an Atlanta-based email marketing company, acqui-hired LemonStand, a Canadian e-commerce startup that had been backed by such firms as BDC Capital. http://axios.link/zqHS
• TPG Capital is in talks to sell its 34% stake in Russian hypermarket chain Lenta to Severgroup, controlled by oligarch Alexei Mordashov, per the FT. On the open market, TPG’s position would be worth around $550 million. http://axios.link/9Xdv
• ezCater, a Boston-based corporate catering company valued last year at $700 million by VCs, acquired Monkey Group, a Canadian cloud software platform for takeout, delivery and catering. www.ezcater.com
• GIC has acquired a 25% stake in CitizenM, a Netherlands-based chain of 15 boutique hotels, at an enterprise value of around €2 billion. http://axios.link/FT2P
• Global Icons, a Los Angeles-based brand licensing company, acquired Los Angeles-based apparel retailer Fred Segal. http://axios.link/UIrR
• Lufthansa, the German air carrier, is seeking to merge its European catering unit with a peer, per Reuters. Bidders are expected to include Austria’s Do&Co and Switzerland’s Gategroup. http://axios.link/lNLj
• ON Semiconductor (Nasdaq: ON) agreed to buy San Jose, Calif.-based WiFi chipmaker Quantenna Communications (Nasdaq: QTNA) for $1.07 billion in cash. http://axios.link/ylZK
• Singapore Technologies Engineering is paying €250 million to buy Belgian satellite equipment maker Newtec Group. http://axios.link/c07O
• Richard Clarke-Jervoise stepped down as head of private capital investing at London-based multifamily office Stonehage Fleming, per PE International. http://axios.link/dUkx
Forgepoint Capital, a VC firm focused on cybersecurity, promoted Will Lin to partner. www.forgepointcap.com
• Norwest Venture Partners made three promotions on its growth equity team: Rob Arditi to general partner and Stew Campbell and Ran Ding to principals. www.nvp.com
• Cheryl Potter, a partner with Permira, was named chair of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association. http://axios.link/NorT
• The Riverside Co. is putting Karsten Langer in charge of its European operations, with Antonio Cabral leaving after nearly two decades with the mid-market private equity firm, per PE International. http://axios.link/gObd
• Tim Throsby stepped down as head of investment banking at Barclays. http://axios.link/aRaw