Most of yesterday’s tech and business media attention was on Apple’s Watch announcement (peripheral jewelry, yawn), but the bigger Apple news was that the company has launched an open-source platform called ResearchKit for clinical medical research. The basic idea is that medical research organizations can develop apps to help get deeper and faster patient-generated data during clinical trials.
So far there are five apps already released, including for research projects focused on asthma and breast cancer. The latter project historically has surveyed breast cancer survivors quarterly about quality of life issues like exhaustion and pain. Now, it will be able to receive that information more regularly and, arguably, more accurately (since patients aren’t being asked to remember how they felt two months ago).
I spoke to a couple of doctors involved with the existing apps, and they both said that Apple’s platform will help them get a broader subset of patients. Yes, the iPhone has demographic limitations, but so does basing a clinical trial in Boston or New York or some other medical hub. Equally notable, there are no Apple exclusivity arrangements, which means that the medical organizations should be able to build similar apps for Android devices, thus significantly increasing their reach.
Really interested to see how biotech VC and PE investors play this, in terms of both funding research app-makers and utilizing ResearchKit for existing portfolio companies.
• In memoriam: Tech blog GigaOm — which first introduced the world to ‘Twttr’ back in 2006 — shut down last night, saying that it now was in the hands of its creditors at Silicon Valley Bank after running out of cash. It currently is unclear if Gigaom had quietly raised venture debt from SVB, or if it had been a credit line while the company searched for new equity funding that never came.
As a journalist, the whole thing is sad. Gigaom was a phenomenal site, particularly in its willingness to cover subjects that had gone out of pageview style (including cleantech). From a coverage perspective, it’s quite strange.
For starters, why let creditors seize the assets rather than file for bankruptcy? Particularly given that there doesn’t seem to have been any serious attempt to find a buyer.
Second, the site’s founder, Om Malik, is now a full-time partner with its original VC backer, True Ventures (he also sat on the Gigaom board, having stepped back last year from a management role). It’s one thing for a VC firm to let a startup die, but this was clearly more personal than most. Maybe True couldn’t convince the company’s other VCs — Alloy Ventures, Shea Ventures, Reed Elsevier Ventures — to keep it going after it burned through an $8 million raise from February 2014, or maybe Om had to make a much tougher call than do most VCs.
Again, learning the terms of the SVB deal are vital to understanding what really happened. Hopefully I’ll get them soon.
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THE BIG DEAL
• Bain Capital has agreed to acquire Blue Coat Systems, a Sunnyvale, Calif.–based provider of enterprise security and WAN optimization solutions, from Thoma Bravo and Teachers’ Private Capital for $2.4 billion in cash. Thoma Bravo led a $1.26 billion buyout of Blue Coat in late 2011. www.bluecoat.com
VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS
• SimpliVity, a Westborough, Mass.-based provider of “hyperconverged infrastructure for IT,” has raised $175 million in Series D funding at a valuation in excess of $1 billion. Waypoint Capital led the round, and was joined by return backers Accel Partners, Charles River Ventures, DFJ Growth, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Meritech Capital Partners. Read more.
• 21 Inc., a stealthy bitcoin startup aimed at the mass consumer market, has raised $116 million in VC funding. Backers include Andreessen Horowitzx, RRE Ventures, Qualcomm, Khosla Ventures and Data Collective. This is the largest-ever funding round for a bitcoin company. Read more.
• Blippar, a UK-based image-recognition platform for brands, has raised $45 million in new VC funding. The company did not identify new investors, but said that past backers include Qualcomm Ventures and Landsowne Partners. www.blippar.com
• RayVio, a Hayward, Calif.-based provider of UV LED-based solutions, has raised $9.3 million in Series B funding. Applied Ventures, Augment Ventures, New Ground Ventures and Tolero Ventures were joined by return backers DCM and Capricorn Investment Group. www.rayvio.com
Yallo, an Israeli startup focused on improving the mobile phone call experience, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by Carmel Ventures. Read more.
• Do, a San Francisco-based solution for “running productive meetings and maximizing knowledge worker productivity,” has raised $2 million in seed funding. Backers include New Enterprise Associates, Slow Ventures, Nas, Mark Pincus, Aayush Phumbhra and Jim Patterson. www.do.com
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Baring Private Equity (Asia) has agreed to acquire a 57% stake in CMS Info Systems Ltd., an Indian provider of ATM-related cash management services, from The Blackstone Group for $250 million, according to Reuters. Read more.
• Carlyle Cardinal Ireland has agreed to acquire a control stake in Payzone Ireland, a provider of multi-channel consumer payments in Ireland, from Duke Street. No financial terms were disclosed. www.payzone.ie
• Field Agent, a Fayetteville, Ark.-based provider of in location-specific mobile market research and retail data collection services, has raised an undisclosed amount of new equity funding from existing shareholder Five Elms Capital. www.fieldagent.net
• Marlin Equity Partners has acquired HomecareCRM, a Birmingham, Ala.-based provider of CRM software to the long-term and post-acute care sector. No financial terms were disclosed. www.homecarecrm.com
• Selmet Inc., an Albany, Ore.-based portfolio company of Blue Point Capital Partners, has acquired Western Metrology Inc., a Wilsonville, Ore.–based manufacturer of precision components for the aerospace industry. No financial terms were disclosed. www.westernmet.com
• Spire Capital has acquired an equity stake in Lighthouse eDiscovery, a Seattle-based provider of e-discovery services, from Columbia Pacific Advisors (which will retain a small position). No financial terms were disclosed. www.lhediscovery.com
• Vector Capital has completed its previously-announced $120 million take-private acquisition of ChyronHego Corp., a Melville, N.Y.-based provider of broadcast graphics creation, play-out and real-time data visualization. www.chyron.com
• AltheaDx Inc., a San Diego-based molecular diagnostics company focused on personalized medicine, has withdrawn its IPO registration. No explanation was given. The company had planned to offer approximately 4.6 million shares at between $12 and $14 per share, which would have given it an initial market cap of around $161 million were it to have priced in the middle of its range. Citigroup and Jefferies were serving as lead underwriters. Shareholders include Telegraph Hill Partners (43.9% pre-IPO stakew) and Alma Life Sciences (24.5%). www.altheadx.com
• SteadyMed, an Israeli developer of disposable, subcutaneous delivery systems for medications, has set its IPO terms to 4.25 million shares being offered at between $12 and $14 per share. It would have an initial market cap of around $159 million, were it to price in the middle of its range.. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol STDY, with Wells Fargo and RBC Capital Markets serving as lead underwriters. Shareholders in the pre-revenue company include Samson Venture Partners (12.8% pre-IPO stake), Deerfield Management (6.7%) and Federated Investors (6.7%). www.steadymed.com
• Valeritas Inc., a Bridgewater, N.J.-based maker of insulin delivery devices for Type 2 diabetics, has set its IPO terms to 5 million shares being offered at between $14 and $16 per share. It would have an initial market cap of around $237 million, were it to price in the middle of its range. The company plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol VLRX, with Piper Jaffray and Leerink Partners serving as lead underwriters. Valeritas reports nearly a $65.5 million net loss for 2014 on $13.5 million in revenue. Shareholders include Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe, Onset Ventures and Pitango Venture Capital. www.valeritas.com
• Cerberus Capital Management has hired banks to explore strategic options for Austrian lender Bawag, according to the FT. Cerberus had paid €3.3 billion to buy Bawag back in 2007. Read more.
• Hellman & Friedman has agreed to sell Wood Mackenzie, a UK-based energy analytics group, to Verisk Analytics Inc. (Nasdaq: VRSK). The deal is valued at approximately $2.8 billion in cash. There had been a recent FT report that Hellman & Friedman had hired Lazard to explore an IPO for Wood Mackenzie at a similar valuation. www.woodmac.com
• KSL Capital Partners has sold The James Royal Palm resort in South Beach, Fla. to Chesapeake Lodging Trust (NYSE: CHSP) for $278 million. www.kslcapital.com
• Zendesk Inc. (NYSE: ZEN) has filed for a $200 million secondary public offering. It did not break down the number of shares to be offered, or how many would come from the company. Existing shareholders include Charles River Ventures (15.4% ownership stake), Benchmark (14.4%), Fidelity Investments (7.7%) and Matrix Partners (5.8%). www.zendesk.com
• Alcoa (NYSE: AA) has agreed to acquire RTI International Metals Inc. (NYSE: RTI), a Pittsburgh–based provider of titanium and specialty metal products, for $1.5 billion in stock. The $41 per share deal represents around a 7.8% premium over yesterday’s closing price for RTI stock. www.alcoa.com
• Simon Property Group (NYSE: SPG) has launched an unsolicited $16 billion takeover offer for Macerich (NYSE: MAC), the third-largest U.S. shopping mall owner. Read more.
FIRMS & FUNDS
• Bain Capital is planning to target between $2.5 billion and $3 billion for its third Asia-focused buyout fund, according to Bloomberg. Bain had raised $2.3 billion for its second Asia fund in 2012. Read more.
• Mercato Partners, a Salt Lake City-based growth equity firm, is raising up to $175 million for its third fund, according to a regulatory filing. www.mercatopartners.com
MOVING IN, UP, ON & OUT
• Brady Dougan is stepping down as CEO of Credit Suisse after an eight-year run. He will be succeeded by Tidjiane Thiam, head of British insurer Prudential PLC. Read more.
• John Giuliani, former CEO of Conversant (acquired last year by Alliance Data for $2.3 billion), has joined Boston-based VC firm Data Point Capital as a special advisor. www.datapointcapital.com
• Jillian Griffiths has joined Clayton, Dubilier & Rice as chief operating officer. She is a former partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers. www.cdr-inc.com
• Harish Manwani, former COO of Unilever, has joined The Blackstone Group as a global executive advisor. www.blackstone.com
• Jeff Schneble has joined Wing Venture Capital as a partner. He previously was with Silver Lake as an operating executive on the firm’s “value creation team.” www.wing.vc
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