Random Ramblings: Update-A-Polooza
A bunch of fund updates to kick off your Friday:
• Getting assembled: We reported last fall about the formation of Assemble VC, a Boston-based firm launched by Michael Skok (ex-North Bridge Venture Partners), C.A. Webb (ex-executive director of the New England Venture Capital Association) and John Pearce (former president and CEO of Demandware). Three quick updates:
1. Word is that it’s already closed on over half of its $75 million fund target.
2. Before raising money, the firm’s principals conducted interviews with 300 entrepreneurs. Some were old hands with several companies under their belts, some were on their first startup. Most were from the Bay Area, New York or Boston. The goal was to learn about these entrepreneurs’ experiences raising venture capital, and to apply that information to the new firm’s structure and best practices.
Some of their big takeaways were: (a) Most entrepreneurs want to raise money from VCs with entrepreneurial experience; (b) There is a desire for VC firms to foster community; (c) Entrepreneurs want clear communication about how the VC rounds really work, including explicit agreements about where each round of funding is intended to take the company.
3. The partnership structure is a bit unusual. Rather than three “investors,” it works like this: Skok is the investment lead, Webb is the community lead and Pearce is operating lead.
• Drink it up: CAVU Venture Partners, a new venture capital firm focused on the branded food and beverage space, has closed its debut fund at around $156 million, according to a regulatory filing.
The New York-based group’s principals include Rohan Oza (ex-Vitaminwater and Smartwater), Clayton Christopher (founder/ex-CEO of Sweet Leaf Tea, co-founder/chairman of Deep Eddy Vodka) and Brett Thomas (founder of Thematic Capital Partners). For more on Oza, here’s a Fortune profile from 2014.
• Well, that’s settled: In October we wrote about the legal mess surrounding Capital Point Partners, a Houston-based private equity and mezzanine investment firm that was founded by former pro football player Alfred Jackson (#85 in your musty Atlanta Falcons program).
Specifically, the firm had sold the portfolio of assets in two funds to a publicly-traded business development company where Jackson served as chairman ― without the approval of limited partners in those two funds. The LPs (which held a combined 81.59% stake in the funds) later voted to boot Jackson and his colleagues, and filed a lawsuit asking for the asset transfer to be reversed. Delaware Chancery Court upheld the GP transfer, but had not yet ruled on the transfer reversal request.
Now come filings showing that the LPs have settled with all of the major players, save for Jackson. No money exchanged hands, but the LP group (which had hired Semaphore as GP) now takes de facto control of the business development company (whose stock is down to $0.22 per share, compared to $2.70 per share prior the the asset swap). In other words, the LPs regain control of the assets, with Jackson being replaced as chairman.
• Unpowered up: Avista Capital Partners, a New York-based mid-market private equity firm, is officially raising its fourth flagship fund, according to a regulatory filing. No target was disclosed, but UBS is serving as placement agent. You might recall that we discussed this fund last month, reporting that it would be the first Avista offering to not include an energy investing component. Instead, the energy team is expected to launch its own fundraising drive, also under the Avista brand.
• Have a great weekend… Go Pats!
THE BIG DEAL
• Philips NV has formally called off the $2.8 billion sale of an 80.1% stake in its lighting components unit to an investor consortium led by Go Scale Capital, due to U.S. regulatory concerns. Read more.
VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS
• FiveStars, a San Francisco-based rewards program for small businesses, has raised $50 million in Series C funding. HarbourVest Partners led the round, and was joined by return backers Lightspeed Venture Partners, Menlo Ventures and DCM. www.fivestars.com
• Olo, a New York-based provider of digital ordering and delivery solutions for multi-location restaurants, has raised $40 million in new VC funding from The Raine Group. www.olo.com
• Akili Interactive Labs Inc., a Boston-based developer of digital medicines for cognitive assessment and personalized treatment, has raised $30.5 million in new VC funding. Backers include JAZZ Venture Partners, Canepa Advanced Healthcare Fund and PureTech Health. www.akiliinteractive.com
• Arrayent, a San Francisco-based Internet of Things platform for brands, has raised $15 million in Series C funding. ORIX Ventures was joined by return backers DCM, Intel Capital, Opus Capital and Comerica Bank. www.arrayent.com
• Datical, an Austin, Texas-based provider of agile database automation solutions, has raised $8 million in Series B funding. S3 Ventures led the round, and was joined by return backers Mercury Fund and Austin Ventures. www.datical.com
• Nubo Software, a Boston-based developer of virtual mobile infrastructure solutions, has raised $7 million in Series A funding. Magma Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by Motorola Solutions Venture Capital. www.nubosoftware.com
• Canvs (f.k.a. Mashwork), a New York-based platform for measuring emotion on social media, has raised $5.6 million in Series A funding. KEC Ventures led the round, and was joined by Rubicon Venture Capital, BRaVe Ventures, Social Starts and Milestone Venture Partners. www.canvs.tv
• Jungoo, an Indian based provider of on-demand rickshaw rides, has raised $5.5 million in Series B funding. Backers include Paytm and Snow Leopard. Read more.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Bain Capital, EQT Partners and PAI Partners reportedly are among those bidding to acquire the Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime beer brands from Anheuser-Busch InBev. The brands were put up for sale to ease InBev’s regulatory road to purchasing SABMiller, and could be valued at around €2.5 billion. Other bidders include Asahi (Japan) and Thai Beverage. Read more.
• Guardian Capital Partners has acquired the assets of Hyper Pet, a Wichita, Kansas-based maker of dog toys and other pet products. No financial terms were disclosed. www.hyper-pet.com
• Digital Reasoning, a Franklin, Tenn.-based developer of cognitive computing technology, has acquired Shareable, a Nashville, Tenn.-based provider of a mobile clinical documentation platform. No financial terms were disclosed. Digital Reasoning shareholders include Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, In-Q-Tel, HCA Holdings (NYSE: HCA), New York City Investment Fund, Work-Bench Ventures and The FinTech Innovation Lab. Shareable had raised over $15 million from firms like Founder Collective, Heritage Group, Martin Ventures, Lemhi Ventures, Nashville Capital Network and Summation Health Ventures. www.digitalreasoning.com
• Lightyear Capital has sold Clarion Partners Holdings, a New York-based real estate investment firm, to Legg Mason Inc. (NYSE: LM). No financial terms were disclosed.
• Spotify has acquired two companies: Soundwave, a Dublin, Ireland-based music discovery startup; and Cord Project, a Brooklyn, N.Y-based audio messaging platform. No financial terms were disclosed for either deal. Soundwave had raised VC funding from firms like ACT Venture Capital and Enterprise Ireland. Cord Project had been seeded by such firms as Greycroft Partners, Google Ventures, Slow Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures and Metamorphic Ventures. Read more.
• Civitas Learning, an Austin, Texas-based provider of SaaS-based predictive analytics, has acquired College Scheduler, a Redding, Calif.-based provider of schedule planning solutions for higher education. No financial terms were disclosed. Civitas Learning has raised around $78 million from Warburg Pincus, Rethink Education, Austin Ventures, Felicis Ventures and Emergence Capital. www.civitaslearning.com
FIRMS & FUNDS
• KKR has partnered with China Orient Asset Management and China Orient Summit Capital to form a platform that will co-invest in credit and distressed opportunities in the Chinese market. www.kkr.com
• Kreos Capital, a London-based “growth debt” firm focused on the European and Israeli markets, has closed its fifth fund with €400 million in capital commitments. www.kreoscapital.com
Moving In, On & Up
• Stephen Diamond has joined US Capital Partners, an investment firm focused on debt and equity for mid-market companies, as a managing director. He is a former general partner with VC firm The Sprout Group. www.uscapitalpartners.net
• Peter Markham has joined TMT Capital as a managing partner, according to his LinkedIn profile. He currently is chairman of Granite Broadcasting Corp., and is the former head of TMT and European coverage for Silver Point Capital. www.tmtcapital.com
• Amy Miller has joined Drexel University as an investment manager, according to her LinkedIn profile. She previously was VP of investor relations at LBC Credit Partners. www.drexel.edu
• Woody Young has joined Perella Weinberg Partners as a New York-based partner in the firm’s advisory business, with a focus on telecom, media and tech clients. He previously was with Lazard, as a managing director and co-head of its global TMT group. www.pwpartners.com
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