Greetings from Day 2 in Los Angeles, where later this morning I’ll be interviewing Fred Wilson on stage at The Dolby Theater (we’re the Oscars warm-up act). Some quick notes to kick us off:
• Public vs. private: Yesterday I moderated a panel of limited partners, all of whom were from the foundation and endowment worlds. The specifics were officially off the record, but I feel comfortable in saying that the quintet was all much more positive than I expected. Long-term investors, etc.
In fact, there was a lot of happy talk from the stage yesterday, including from later-stage VCs. In the hallways, however, I heard much more doom and gloom. Maybe the on-stage stuff was just people talking their own books ― I’ve got early Uber, what me worry if the rest goes to zero? ― or perhaps both the LPs and VCs realize that there isn’t much PR value in being the fly in the fruit punch. Or maybe those on unicorn boards see much more cash-on-hand than many of us outsiders presume. But clearly there was a big disconnect.
• Related: Yes, endowments and foundations are longer-term LPs than are, say, fund-of-funds managers. But when the financial crisis hit, I recall a number of endowments trying to launch large secondary sales due to denominator effects…
• Underlying factors: Josh Stein. a partner with DFJ, commented yesterday that the current VC slowdown is much more reminiscent of the financial crisis than the dotcom bust. Not in terms of severity, of course, but rather in that the former was about macro economic issues and the latter was about a (misplaced) belief that the Internet was fool’s gold.
I generally agree, except that part of the 2001/2002 issue wasn’t just a lack of technical foresight, so much as it was about companies being overvalued due to the dual lack viable biz models and broadband/mobile penetration. The reasons change, but some of the cash-burning results remain the same…
• Recommended reading: There’s an interesting Bloomberg piece out this morning on iHeart Radio, which is still struggling to handle the debt it assumed as part of its massive and protracted 2008 buyout by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners. Read more here.
• Publishing note: Erin Griffith will be pinch-hitting tomorrow morning, as I’ll be in an LAX security line when I would normally be typing. So please send over all news and views to firstname.lastname@example.org, or hit her up on Twitter @griffitherin. Have a great Super Bowl weekend…
THE BIG DEAL
• Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) has agreed to acquire Jasper Wireless, a Mountain View, Calif.-based maker of software that helps manage wireless connections for Internet-connected equipment. The deal is valued at $1.4 billion.
Jasper Wireless had raised around $190 million in VC funding, including a $50 million Series F round in early 2014 at a $1.3 billion post-money valuation. That round included Temasek, Rosemont Seneca Technology Partners, Wing Venture Partners and SingTel Innov8. Other shareholders include Benchmark, Sequoia Capital, DAG Ventures, AllianceBernstein, Bridgescale Partners, Integral Capital Partners and Crescendo Ventures. Read more.
VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS
• Snagajob, an Arlington, Va.-based online marketplace for hourly work, has raised $100 million in new VC funding. Rho Acceleration led the round, and was joined by NewSpring Capital and Invus Group. www.snagajob.com
• Blockstream, a developers of “bitcoin-like ledgers that operate independently of, but are pegged to, bitcoin, has raised $55 million in Series A funding. Horizons Ventures, AXA Strategic Ventures and Digital Garage were joined by return backers AME Cloud Ventures, Blockchain Capital, Future\Perfect Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Mosaic Ventures and Seven Seas Venture Partners. The company previously raised a $21 million seed round. Read more.
• Sonatype, a Silver Spring, Md.-based software component security company, has raised $30 million in new VC funding led by Goldman Sachs. Existing shareholders include Accel, Bay Partners, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Canvas Ventures and NEA. www.sonatype.com
• Enyo Pharma, a French developer of treatments for acute and chronic viral infections, has raised €22 million in Series A funding. Sofinnova Partners led the round, and was joined by Morningside Ventures and Bpifrance. www.enyopharma.com
• After School, a San Francisco-based social networking app for teenagers, has raised $16.4 million in Series A funding. Accomplice led the round, and was joined by Cowboy Ventures and individual angels like Naval Ravikant. The company also announced a partnership with DoSomething.org. www.afterschoolapp.com
• The Bouqs Co., a Venice, Calif.-based provider of cut-to-order, farm-to-table flower retailer, has raised $12 million in Series B funding. Quest Venture Partners, Azure Capital Partners and KEC Ventures were joined by return backers Enspire Capital and Draper Associates. www.bouqs.com
• Handshake, a San Francisco-based college career network, has raised $10.5 million in Series A funding. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers led the round, and was joined by True Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners. www.joinhandshake.com
• Hortau, a San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based developer of irrigation management systems and services, has raised $10 million in new VC funding. Advantage Capital Agribusiness Partners led the round, and was joined by BDC Capital and return backers Avrio Ventures and Capital régional et coopératif Desjardins. www.hortau.com
• Grapeshot, a keyword technology provider with offices in New York, London and Singapore, has raised $8.5 million in new VC funding. IQ Capital and Draper Esprit co-led the round, and were joined by Albion Ventures. www.grapeshot.com
• Chatbooks, a Provo, Utah-based subscription service that turns digital photos into photo books,, has raised $6 million in Series A funding. Signal Peak Ventures led the round, and was joined by Kickstart Seed Fund, Peterson Ventures and BYU Cougar Capital. www.chatbooks.com
• EpiBiome, a South San Francisco-based microbiome engineering company, has raised $6 million in Series A funding. Backers include Viking Global Investors, Matrix Capital Management, Alexandria Venture Investments, SV Tech Ventures and China Rock Capital Management. www.epibiome.com
• Silk Therapeutics Inc., a Boston-based skincare line, has raised $6 million in Series A2 funding. Existing backer The Kraft Group led the round, and was joined by new investors Lear Corp., Highland Consumer Partners, BML Group, Altman Health Investments, Sheri and Roy Disney, Richard Sackler and Summer Road LLC. www.silktherapeutics.com
• Galera Therapeutics Inc., a Malvern, Penn.-based developer of cancer treatments, has raised $5 million in new VC funding from Enso Ventures. This brings the round total to $42 million, including a prior close from New Enterprise Associates, Novartis Venture Fund, Novo Ventures, Correlation Ventures and Galera Angels. www.galeratx.com
• OpenMethods, a Los Angeles-based provider of SaaS solutions for contact centers to integrate telephony platforms with CRM systems, has raised $5 million in new VC funding from Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors and NewRoad Capital Partners. www.openmethods.com
• Power Supply, a “curated marketplace for chef-driven prepared healthy meals,” has raised $5 million in seed funding led by Upfront Ventures. www.mypowersupply.com
• BioDirection Inc., a Boston-based developer of rapid point-of-care products for the management of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries, has raised over $4 million in Series B convertible preferred stock funding. Investors include Provident Healthcare Capital. www.biodirection.com
• OwnBackup, cloud-to-cloud backup and recovery vendor with offices in Israel and New Jersey, has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding. Innovation Endeavors led the round, and was joined by Oryzn Capital. www.ownbackup.com
• Aira.IO, a San Diego-based developer of remote assistance technology for the blind and visually impaired, has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding. Lux Capital and ARCH Venture Partners co-led the round, and were joined by Felicis Ventures, Larry Bock and Scott Belsky. www.aira.io
• Tattoodo, a Copenhagen-based “digital hub for all things tattoo-related,” has raised $2.5 million in funding from individual angels like Jimmy Maymann (AOL), Tom Ryan (Pluto TV), Jake Nickell (Threadless) and Rene Rechtman (Maker Studios). www.tattoodo.com
• Notarize, an Alexandria, Va.-based digital remote notarization solution, has raised $2.4 million in first-round funding. Polaris Partners led the round, and was joined by Ludlow Ventures. www.notarize.com
• Totspot, a Mountain View, Calif.-based P2P marketplace for buying and selling used children’s apparel, has raised $1.5 million in new funding led by Seven Seas Venture Partners. www.totspot.me
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Angeles Equity Partners has acquired the automotive acoustic solutions business of U.G.N. Inc., a joint venture between Autoneum Holding AG (SWX: AUTN) and Nihon Tokushu Toryo (Tokyo:4619). No financial terms were disclosed. www.aainvh.com
• Arlington Capital Partners has agreed to acquire the defense and security business of iRobot Corp. (Nasdaq: ITBT). The deal is valued at up to $45 million in cash, including a $30 million upfront payment. www.irobot.com
• The Carlyle Group received U.S. regulatory approval for its proposed $2.07 billion sale of Landmark Aviation, a Houston, Texas-based provider of fueling and ground support services to the general and commercial aviation markets, to BBA Aviation (LSE: BBA), so long as BBA sells some of its American assets. Read more.
• Cerberus Capital Management has acquired Spanish renewable energy company Renovalia Energy SA from affiliates of the Ortega Family and IDM Ortemar. No financial terms were disclosed. www.renovalia.com
• CVC Capital Partners and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board have completed their $4.6 billion acquisition of Petco, a San Diego-based pet supplies retailer, from TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners. In related news, Petco has withdrawn its IPO registration. www.petco.com
• Hub International Ltd., a Bothell, Wash.-based insurance brokerage backed by Hellman & Friedman and AlpInvest, has acquired San Francisco-based Equity Risk Partners Inc. Sellers include Otter Partners. No financial terms were disclosed. www.equityriskpartners.com
• LAC Group, a Los Angeles-based provider of outsourced library and information management services, has raised an undisclosed amount of growth equity funding from TZP Group. www.lac-group.com
• Liberty Hall Capital Partners has acquired AIM Aerospace, a Renton, Wash.-based provider of composite ducting, substructural and interiors parts for the commercial aerospace industry, for $220 million. www.aimseattle.com
• Rowmark, a Findlay, Ohio-based portfolio company of Bertram Capital, has acquired Bur-Lane Inc., an Oklahoma City-based distributor of engraving plastic and identification accessories and supplies. No financial terms were disclosed. www.rowmark.com
• Beijing Enterprises Holding has agreed to acquire EEW Energy from Waste, a German waste incineration and power-from-waste company, from EQT Partners. No financial terms were disclosed. www.eew-energyfromwaste.com
• Electra Private Equity has sold its 41% equity stake in Daler-Rowney, a UK-based provider of fine arts materials, to Italy’s Fila Group (BIT: FILA) for approximately £32 million. www.daler-rowney.com
• Symphony Technology Group has sold AlphaImpactRx, a Horsham, Penn.-based provider of primary research and insights for biopharma and consumer health companies, to IMS Health (NYSE: IMS). No financial terms were disclosed. www.alphaimpactrx.com
• Adeptio has agreed to acquire a 69% equity stake in Kuwait Food Co. (Americana), a listed Kuwaiti food and retail group, from the al-Kharafi family. No financial terms were disclosed. Earlier suitors had included CVC Capital Partners and KKR. Read more.
• IBM (NYSE: IBM) has agreed to acquire German digital marketing firm Ecx.io, its third such acquisition in one week. Read more.
• Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE: LGF) has resumed talks to acquire pay-cable TV network Starz (Nasdaq: STRZ), in which it already holds a 4.5% stake, according to Bloomberg. Starz has a current market cap of nearly $3 billion. Read more.
• Zillow Group (Nasdaq: ZG) has agreed to acquire Naked Apartments, an online apartment rentals platform for New York City. No financial terms were disclosed. www.zillow.com
FIRMS & FUNDS
• HarbourVest Partners has acquired BAML Capital Access Funds, a six-person fund-of-funds team, from Bank of America (NYSE: BAC). No financial terms were disclosed. The business, which has advised on around $1.9 billion in capital commitments since its 2002 inception, will be renamed HarbourVest Horizon. www.harbourvest.com
• Fimi Opportunity Funds, an Israeli private equity firm, has secured $1.1 billion in capital commitments for its latest fund. Read more.
• Traverse Venture Partners is raising upwards of $100 million for its debut fund, according to a regulatory filing. The Washington, D.C.-based firm is focused on backing companies that “improve the economic and environmental performance of real estate.”
Moving In, On & Up
• Choate has poached three private equity partners from Locke Lord LLP: Stephen Meredith, Sarah Camougis and Christopher Nelson. www.choate.com
• Kent Farmer has joined Dominus Capital as an operating advisor. He is the former president and CEO of Spectrum Lubricants, a onetime Dominus portfolio company. www.dominuscap.com
• The Gores Group has promoted Jennifer Kwon Chou to managing director. She joined the firm in 2010 from Sterling Partners, and currently leads Gores Group’s investor relations efforts. www.gores.com
• Jose Luis Marín has joined Cerberus Capital Management as chairman of the firm’s renewable energy investments group. He previously was CEO of Endesa Diversificación and President and CEO of Endesa Red. www.cerberus.com
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