A bunch of notes to kick off your Tuesday:
• VC fundraising: U.S.-based venture capital firms raised $5 billion for 46 funds in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association.
That brings the 2015 dollar total to $28.2, which was off 9% from 2014, but well above the $20.32 billion annual average since 2006 (and also higher than 2012 or 2013). Around 33.6% of the 235 U.S.-based VC funds that raised capital in 2015 were first-time efforts, which is down from 39.1% in 2014.
• Middle-market pulse: Citizens Commercial Banking has released results from a survey of nearly 600 U.S. middle-market companies, which shows that more than half are seeking acquisitions in 2016 to accelerate revenue. 59% of the larger companies surveyed (annual revenue $25m-$2b) and 53% of the smaller companies surveyed (annual revenue of $5m-$25m) said they are open to deals, while the percentages currently involved in talks was 32% and 18%, respectively.
For both groups, the largest acquisition concern was inherited liability, while number two was overpaying (38% and 30%, respectively). A majority of both groups also say that they are seeking deals that would be “transformative,” as opposed to simply bolt-ons.
• Fee stuff: The California Public Employees’ Retirement System on Friday released its comprehensive annual financial report, for the year ending June 30, 2015. It included $217 million in fee “savings” via the “elimination” of its hedge fund programs and “diligent work to negotiate more favorable terms for CalPERS with our external managers.”
Two points on this: (1) CalPERS hadn’t actually eliminated its entire hedge fund program yet. In fact, it still had $500 million of exposure through the end of last October (four months after the CAFR period ended). (2) More importantly, CalPERS does not seem to have calculated if the savings from liquidated hedge fund positions are more or less than CalPERS would have earned from maintaining those positions. I’m not claiming to know ― I just find it strange that the pension would congratulate itself for savings that might actually be losses in disguise.
• New fund alert: Courtside Ventures has launched with a $35 million vehicle focused on “technology disrupters across sports and media.” It’s an affiliate of Bruin Sports Capital, a $250 million sports and media platform formed last year by former IMG exec George Pyne, but structured like a traditional VC fund rather than like an operating company. Limited partners include Dan Gilbert and WPP.
Pyne and Courtside partner Deepen Parikh told me this morning that Courtside was formed to focus on earlier-stage opportunities than Bruin, which acquires and invests “in businesses that have real growth potential but which are very established.” More specifically, Courtside will participate in seed-stage and Series A rounds for technology startups, usually as a co-investor.
• Firm of the year? OrbiMed Advisors, a life sciences-focused VC and growth equity firm, so far in 2015 has announced its involvement in five new funding rounds that raised more than $230 million. It also is a shareholder in three companies that filed for IPOs. Not bad for just 12 days into the new year…
• Healthcare market certainty? Yesterday I spent some time chatting with Zeke Emanuel, a key Obamacare architect, about his decision to join investment firm Oak HC/FT as a venture partner. You can read the Q&A here, which included a question about what he thinks will happen to The Affordable Care Act if a Republican is elected president. Here’s part of his reply:
“I think it cannot be repealed for a whole variety of reasons. First, almost every part of the healthcare sector―including hospitals and pharmaceutical companies―has built its entire strategy around the direction that ACA is taking the country. So I think that repeal would face resistance from almost every player in the marketplace. Second, and I think this is less understood from people not in government, is that you’d have a huge budget problem. This was true after ACA was first passed, and is even more true now. ACA creates budget surpluses, and you cannot fill that big hole easily without raising taxes or doing other things you’re opposed to. Third, you’d have to kick 15 million or so people off their healthcare insurance. Remember when the GOP was so upset that people had to change plans because theirs was canceled? Well, that was around 500,000 people. This would be 15 million. I don’t think that’s viable.”
• Let’s chat: I’ll be participating in a Product Hunt live-chat tomorrow afternoon (3pm ET). Be sure to sign up and/or put questions in the queue, by going here.
THE BIG DEAL
• Dalian Wanda Group of China has agreed to acquire Hollywood film production studio Legendary Entertainment for upwards of $3.5 billion in cash. Sellers would include Accel Partners, Breyer Capital, Clarium Capital, Fidelity, IDG Capital Partners, Morgan Stanley, New World Development Co., Pinebridge Capital Partners, SoftBank, Orange Sky Golden Harvest and TomorrowVentures. Read more.
VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS
• Skyscanner, a UK-based travel search engine, has raised around $192 million in new primary and secondary VC funding at a reported $1.6 billion valuation. Backers include Khazanah Nasional Berhad (Malaysia), Artemis, Ballie Gifford, Vitruvian Partners and return backer Yahoo Japan. Existing shareholders include SAP and Sequoia Capital. Read more.
• Shopclues, an Indian e-commerce site, has raised nearly $150 million in new VC funding at a reported valuation of $1.1 billion. GIC led the round, and was joined by return backers Tiger Global and Nexus Venture Partners. Read more.
• Datadog, a New York-based monitoring platform for cloud applications, has raised $94.5 million in Series D funding at a reported valuation of around $600 million. Iconiq Capital led the round, and was joined by return backers Index Ventures, OpenView Ventures, Amplify Partners and Contour Ventures. Read more.
• Iconic Therapeutics, a South San Francisco-based developer of therapeutics for retinal disease and cancer, has raised $40 million in Series C funding. HBM Healthcare Investments, Cormorant Asset Management and Osage University Partners were joined by return backers MPM Capital, H.I.G. Capital and Lundbeckfund Ventures. www.iconictherapeutics.com
• Elastifile, a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of all-flash, software defined enterprise storage solutions, has raised $35 million in Series B funding. Six unidentified “data center and server industry leaders” were joined by return backers Battery Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners. www.elastifile.com
• Vivino, a mobile app for wine reviews and recognizing wine labels, has raised $25 million in Series B funding. SCP Neptune International, an investment vehicle of Moet Hennessy’s global CEO Christophe Navarre, led the deal, and was joined by return backers Balderton Capital, Creandum, SEED Capital and Iconical. Read more.
• SmashFly Technologies, a Concord, Mass.-based recruitment marketing platform, has raised $22 million in Series B funding. Bessemer Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by return backer OpenView Venture Partners. Read more.
• Diablo Technologies, a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of memory solutions, has raised $19 million in Series C funding. ICV led the round, and was joined by Battery Ventures, BDC Capital, Celtic House and Hasso Plattner Ventures. www.diablo-technologies.com
• Import.io, a San Francisco-based startup that “enables businesses to convert websites into usable data,” has raised $13 million in Series A funding. Imperial Innovations led the round, and was joined by Wellington Partners, Oxford Capital, Delin Capital, Open Ocean and AME Cloud Ventures. www.import.io
• AiCure, a New York-based SaaS platform that uses artificial intelligence to visually confirm medication ingestion, has raised $12.25 million in Series A funding. New Leaf Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Tribeca Venture Partners, and Biomatics Capital. www.aicure.com
• Evergage, a Somerville, Mass.-based provider of real-time personalization solutions, has raised $10 million in Series B funding. Arrowroot Capital led the round, and was joined by return backers G20 Ventures and Point Judith Capital. www.evergage.com
• Noodle Markets, a New York-based online purchasing marketplace for K-12 institutions, has raised $3 million in seed funding. Rethink Education led the round, and was joined by Palm Ventures. The company was founded by John Katzman, whose past companies have included The Princeton Review and 2U. www.noodlemarkets.com
• Boom Fantasy, a New York-based in-game fantasy sports platform, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding from the Stanford-StartX Fund, Rubicon Venture Capital and individual angels like Mark Pincus. http://www.boomfantasy.com
• GeneWiz, a South Plainfield, N.J.-based genomics services provider, has raised an undisclosed amount of new equity funding. OrbiMed Advisors led the round, and was joined by Ampersand Capital Partners and Prime Value Capital Management. www.genewiz.com
• Swarmify, a Melbourne, Fla.-based video streaming platform, has closed an undisclosed amount of seed funding. Mosley Ventures led the round, and was joined by LaunchPad40 and unidentified angel groups in Atlanta and Florida. www.swarmify.com
• Scality, a San Francisco-based provider of storage software infrastructure solutions, has raised an undisclosed amount of strategic funding from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE). This is an extension to a $45 million Series D round raised last year from Broadband Tower Inc., Menlo Ventures, Idinvest Partners, CAPE and Galileo. www.scality.com
• Uber said its Chinese affiliate has raised new funding at a $7 billion valuation. Backers include HNA Group, China Taiping Insurance Holdings, China Life Insurance, Guangzhou Automobile Grou and Citic Securities. Read more.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Apollo Global Management is in talks to acquire Apollo Education Group Inc. (Nasdaq: APOL), a for-profit education company that operates The University of Phoenix, according to the WSJ. A deal could be valued at around $1 billion. Apollo Global and Apollo Education are not affiliates. Read more.
• Aurora Resurgence, an affiliate of Aurora Capital Group, has acquired the assets of Cardiac Science Corp., a Waukesha, Wis.-based maker of automated external defibrillators for the public access, education, police, and fire and rescue markets. No financial terms were disclosed for the court-approved transaction. www.cardiacscience.com
• Drake Automotive Group, a Henderson, Nev.-based provider of automotive aftermarket products for the classic car market, has raised an undisclosed amount of private equity funding from Huron Capital Partners. www.huroncapital.com
• Dundon Capital Partners has acquired a majority equity stake in EmployerDirect Healthcare, an Austin, Texas-based provider of healthcare solutions for self-funded employers. No financial terms were disclosed. www.edhc.com
• Hagan Capital Group and Silver Creek Capital have partnered with former American Apparel CEO Dov Charney on a takeover offer for his former (and now bankrupt) company. Read more.
• PSI Services LLC, a Burbank, Calif.-based professional testing company owned by Waud Capital Partners, has acquired Applied Measurement Professionals Inc., an Olathe, Kansas-based provider of assessment and management solutions, from the National Board for Respiratory Care. No financial terms were disclosed. www.psionline.com
• Silver Oak Services Partners has sponsored a recapitalization of Commercial Cleaning Systems LLC, a Denver-based provider of commercial janitorial services in the Western U.S. No financial terms were disclosed. www.commercialcleaningsystems.net
• Sutherland Perennials Group, a provider of luxury performance fabrics, has raised an undisclosed amount of private equity funding from Acacia Partners. www.davidsutherlandshowroom.com
• Tenex Capital Management has acquired the assets of Ohio Medical Corp., a Gurnee, Ill.-based maker of suction and oxygen therapy products and medical gas equipment devices, from MVC Capital (NYSE: MVC) for around $40 million. Robert W. Baird & Co. managed the process. www.ohiomedical.com
• Amedisys Inc. (Nasdaq: AMED) has acquired Infinity HomeCare, a Sarasota, Fla.-based provider of in-home skilled nursing and therapy services, from HealthEdge Investment Partners. The deal was valued at $63 million. Livingston managed the process. www.infinityhc.com
• SwiftReach Networks, a Mahwah, N.J.-based provider of emergency notification and incident management solutions, has acquired Alert Solutions, a Cranston, R.I.-based provider of cloud-based multi-channel messaging and communication solutions, from Catalyst Investors. No financial terms were disclosed. www.swiftreach.com
• Alfa Group has agreed to acquire the Ukrainian unit of Italian lender UniCredit for around $931 million. Read more.
• Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) is planning to acquire the 75% stake it doesn’t already own in French shipping company Colis Privé, according to The Seattle Times. Read more.
• Beijing Kunlan Tech Co. (SZSE: 300418) has agreed to acquire a 60% stake in Grindr, a Los Angeles-based dating app for gay men that had not previously raised outside capital. No financial terms were disclosed. According to the NY Times, Grindr generated around $32 million in 2014 revenue. Read more.
• Carl Icahn reportedly is buying up shares of Time Warner, although his intentions are not yet clear. Read more.
• General Electric (NYSE: GE) has received separate bids of more than $3 billion for its home appliances business from China’s Midea Group and Qingdao Haier Co., according to Bloomberg. The new sale process comes after a previous agreement with Sweden’s Electrolux collapsed. Read more.
• Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE) is seeking to sell its 60.5% stake in India-based IT services company Mphasis for roughly $1 billion, according to The Times of India. Read more.
• Sotheby’s (NYSE: BID) has acquired boutique art advisory firm Art Agency Partners for an undisclosed amount. www.sothebys.com
FIRMS & FUNDS
• Bertram Capital, a San Mateo, Calif.-based private equity firm, is raising up to $500 million for its third fund, according to a regulatory filing. www.bertramcapital.com
• Dominus Capital, a New York-based middle market private equity firm, has closed its second fund with $400 million in capital commitments. www.dominuscap.com
Moving In, On & Up
• AUA Private Equity Partners has promoted Kyce Chihi to principal. He had joined the firm during its October 2011 founding. www.auaequity.com
• Ben Hart has joined Adams Street Partners as a Singapore-based partner and head of business development for Asia. He previously was with Capital Dynamics, where he served as a managing director and COO for Asia. www.adamstreetpartners.com
• Bjarne Graven Larsen has agreed to join The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan as chief investment officer. He previously served as CIO of Danish pension fund ATP. Read more.
• Amir Malayery has joined Industry Ventures as a vice president, focused on secondary investment opportunities. He previously was the founder of mobile commerce company Dapper Shopping Inc. and, before that, was with Summit Partners. In other Industry Ventures news, the firm has promoted Ira Simkhovitch to vice president (secondaries) and Brian Langner to associate (partnership holdings). www.industryventures.com
• Target Partners, a German venture capital firm, has promoted Michael Münnix to partner. He had joined the firm in 2011 as an associate. www.targetpartners.de
• Winona Capital, a Chicago-based private equity firm, has promoted Jason Sowers to partner. He joined Winona in 2008, and sits on the boards of such portfolio companies as Johnny’s Fine Foods, Fusion Education Group, Petsense and Evereve. www.winonacapital.com
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