Yesterday was a rough start to the week for several VC-backed startups:
First we reported that mobile marketing Kahuna CEO Adam Marchick is out, transitioning to an executive chairman position. While a formal search is underway for a new CEO, the spot will be filled on an interim basis by venture capitalist Charles Hudson. Kahuna raised $45 million in Series B funding last summer, from firms like Tenaya Capital and Sequoia Capital.
Next came news that DataGravity, a storage company led by EqualLogic co-founder Paula Long, had done layoffs. The company has raised more than $90 million from firms like Andreessen Horowitz and Accel.
Finally, Parker Conrad was canned as CEO of Zenefits, an HR software company that had been valued by VCs at more than $4 billion. Replacement CEO David Sachs (previously COO, ex-Yammer) said the following in a memo to company employees: “The fact is that many of our internal processes, controls, and actions around compliance have been inadequate, and some decisions have just been plain wrong. As a result, Parker has resigned."
• From the mouths of bankers: Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein spoke this morning at the CSFB Financial Services Conference, and I'm told he mentioned that unicorn-type companies will need to go public because private market funding is beginning to soften. Sure it's self-serving. But it may also be correct.
• Just thinking aloud: A popular meme among certain entrepreneurs is that taking money from venture capitalists is a necessary evil. The corollary to this is admiration for founders who either manage to bootstrap their companies, or find investment elsewhere.
So I've been wondering if Theranos is the countervailing, cautionary tale. Yes it had a small convertible note from DFJ at the seed-stage, but no traditional venture capitalists afterward ― neither on its cap table nor on its board. I'm not saying that having VCs around the table would have nipped all of Theranos' problems, but the extra experience might have softened some of the blows.
• Power plays: Jared Gardner has joined PE placement firm MVision as a VP. He previously was an IR associate with energy-focused PE firm First Reserve. Why is this getting mention so high? Namely because he's just the latest in a long string of First Reserve IR departures.
Last year it was director Caitlyn MaacDonald, who quietly joined Lee Equity Partners as head of IR. Also departing last year were Bill Pearce (now Triton Pacific) and Stephens Johnson (Tenex Capital). Plus Chris Pietersen (first Bain, now Vista Equity) in 2014 and Alex Rogers (Performance Equity Management) in 2013. On the inbound, First Reserve did just add Martin Park (ex-Mount Kellet).
• What do you know? Just a quick reminder that if you want to feed me some info without your fingerprints attached, please use our anonymous tip form. We don't yet have a way to upload documents via that form (it's coming) but feel free to mark any email as confidential and you have my word that you will not be publicly sourced. And, in case you're worried about prying corporate overlord eyes, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE BIG DEAL
• Fuze (f.k.a. ThinkingPhones), a Cambridge, Mass.-based provider of unified communications as a servive, has raised $112 million in growth equity funding. Summit Partners led the round, and was joined by existing backers Bessemer Venture Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures. www.thinkingphones.com
VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS
• Hired (f.k.a. DeveloperAuction), a San Francisco-based online marketplace for tech workers, has raised $40 million in Series C funding led by Lumia Capital. Existing backers include Comcast Ventures, CrossLink Capital, Great Oaks VC, Google Ventures, NEA, Sherpa Ventures, Sierra Ventures and SoftTechVC. In related news, Hired has made two acquisitions: Breaz, a Paris-based tech recruitment platform; and Zlemma a Mountain View, Calif.-based semantic search engine that matches candidates with open jobs. www.hired.com
• Trifacta, a San Francisco-based company that cleans up enterprise data to make it more useful, has raised $35 million in new VC funding. Cathay Innovation was joined by return backers Accel, Greylock Partners and Ignition Partners. Read more.
• Digital Shadows, a London-based provider of cybersecurity SaaS solutions, has raised $14 million in Series B funding. Trinity Ventures led the round, and was joined by Paladin Capital Group and return backers Storm Ventures, TenEleven Ventures and Passion Capital. www.digitalshadows.com
• Vast, an Austin, Texas-based data-as-a-service platform for vehicles and real estate, has raised $14 million from Capital One Growth Ventures. www.vast.com
• IfOnly, a San Francisco-based expert and experience marketplace, has raised $10.25 million in Series B funding. Advance Newhouse, Digital Garage, XB Ventures, Drew Houston, Nirav Tolia and Ron Burkle were joined by return backers American Express Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Founders Fund, Marissa Mayer, Jeremy Stoppelman, Marc Benioff and Yuri Milner. Read more.
• PowerChord, a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based provider of digital brand management software and services, has raised $10 million in new VC funding led by Ballast Point Ventures. www.powerchordsystem.com
• SwervePay, a Lake Villa, Ill.-based healthcare mobile payment platform, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Garland Capital Group. www.swervepay.com
• Amplyx Pharmaceuticals, a San Diego-based developer of treatments for life-threatening fungal infections, has raised $8.7 million in new Series B funding from 3x5 Partners. This brings the round total to $49.2 million, including a prior close from RiverVest Venture Partners, NEA and BioMed Ventures. www.amplyx.com
• Vestagen Technical Textiles Inc., an Orlando, Fla.-based developer of performance apparel for healthcare applications, has raised $7 million in new financing co-led by Advent Life Sciences and HealthQuest Capital. www.vestagen.com
• Power Supply, a Los Angeles-based fresh and healthy food delivery service, has raised $5 million in seed funding led by Upfront Ventures. www.mypowersupply.com
• Stellar Loyalty, a Foster City, Calif.-based provider of big data customer loyalty solutions, has raised $4 million in new Series A funding from existing backers TDF Ventures and InterWest Partners. The round total is now $9 million. www.stellarloyalty.com
• Iron.io, a San Francisco-based "event-driven compute platform for developers and enterprises," has raised $3.5 million in new Series A funding from Sapphire Ventures. The entire round is now $11.5 million, including an earlier close from Baseline Ventures, Bain Capital Ventures, Divergent Ventures, Ignition Partners and Cloud Capital Partners. www.iron.io
• CognitiveLogic, a UK-based enterprise data pooling and analytics startup led by DataSift founder Nick Halstead has raised $3 million in seed funding from Upfront Ventures and IA Ventures. www.cognitivelogic.com
• Stash, a New York-based investment app for millennials, has raised $3 million in seed funding. Goodwater Capital led the round, and was joined by Valar Ventures and Entrée Capital. www.stashinvest.com
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Allianz Global Investors has agreed to acquire Rogge Global Partners, a London-based fixed income investment firm, from Old Mutual (LSE: OLM) and Rogge management. No financial terms were disclosed. Read more.
• KKR has agreed to acquire a 50% stake in Swedish industrial company Välinge for an undisclosed amount. The sellers are Kronospan (20% stake), Swiss Krono Group (20%) and the founding Pervan family (10%). www.kkr.com
• Rugby Architectural Building Products, a Concord, N.H.-based maker of specialty plywood and composite panel products, has acquired Atlanta-based Cumberland Wood Products Inc. No financial terms were disclosed. Rugby Architecture is a portfolio company of Leading Ridge Capital Partners. www.rugbyabp.com
• Terra Energy Partners, an oil and gas platform sponsored by Kayne Anderson and Warburg Pincus, has agreed to acquire WPX Energy Rocky Mountain LLC from WPX Energy Inc. (NYSE: WPX) for $910 million in cash. As part of the deal, Terra will receive natural gas hedges with a current value of more than $90 million. www.terraep.com
• Apellis Pharmaceuticals, a Louisville, Ky.-based developer of immunotherapies, has withdrawn registration for an $86.25 million IPO. No explanation was provided. As of its October 2015 filing, the pre-revenue company has raised around $55 million in VC funding from Morningside Ventures (32.6% pre-IPO stake), AJU IB Investment (7.2%) and Epidarex Ventures. Since then, however, regulatory filings suggest it has raised at least another $47 million. www.apellis.com
• Ellipse Technologies, an Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based developer of devices for orthopedic implant systems, has withdrawn IPO registration after recently agreeing to be acquired for $380 million in cash by NuVasive (Nasdaq: NUVA). Shareholders include HBM Healthcare Investors (29.9% stake), Wexford Capital (18%) and HBM-MedFocus (12.9%). www.ellipse-tech.com
• AMETEK Inc. (NYSE: AME) has acquired ESP-SurgeX, a Knightdale, N.C.-based maker of energy intelligence and power protection solutions, from Gridiron Capital. No financial terms were disclosed. www.ametek.com
• Badoo, a London-based online dating platform, has acquired Lulu, a New York-based “dating intelligence” app that lets women anonymously rate men. No financial terms were disclosed. Lulu backers included Passion Capital and PROfounders. Read more.
• Infoblox (NYSE: BLOX) has acquired IID, a Tacoma, Wash.-based provider of cyber threat intelligence solutions. The deal is valued at $45 million. Read more.
• Tahoe Resources Inc. (TSX: THO) has agreed to acquire fellow Canadian mining company Lake Shore Gold Corp. (TSX: LSG) for $945 million. Read more.
• Trimble (Nasdaq: TRMB) has acquired Sefaira Ltd., a UK-based developer of cloud-based software for designing sustainable buildings. No financial terms were disclosed. www.trimble.com
FIRMS & FUNDS
• DFJ has closed its twelfth early-stage VC fund with $350 million in capital commitments. www.dfj.com
• Harmony Partners, a New York-based VC firm, is raising upwards of $100 million for its third fund, according to a regulatory filing. www.harmonyvp.com
• Mason Wells has closed its fourth mid-market buyout fund with $615 million in capital commitments. www.masonwells.com
• Tuckerman Capital, a Hanover, N.H.-based private equity firm that partners with fundless sponsors, is raising $60 million for its fifth fund, according to a regulatory filing. The firm also has secured $25 million. www.tuckermancapital.com
MOVING IN, ON & UP
• Scott Belsky has joined venture firm Benchmark as its sixth general partner. He previously co-founded Behance, which was acquired in 2012 by Adobe Systems (where Belsky remained as a vice president). www.benchmark.com
• Raymond Bogenrief has joined Greenberg Traurig LLP as a Chicago-based shareholder in the law firm’s corporate and securities practice. He previously was with Vedder Price and Kirkland & Ellis. www.gtlaw.com
• Andrew Buemi has joined ff Venture Capital as director of communications. He previously was with PR firm Edelman. The venture firm also said that it has promoted Ryan Armburst to managing director. www.ffvc.com
• Paul Dunbart has joined law firm Vinson & Elkins as a London-based partner focused on private equity and special situations funds. He previously was with Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP. www.velaw.com
• Lightspeed Venture Partners has promoted Michael Romano from VP of investor relations to partner of investor relations. www.lsvp.com
• Pete Lloyd has joined Milestone Partners as chief financial officer and chief compliance officer. He previously was CFO with KTR Capital Partners. Milestone also promoted Dan Ryan to partner and Brian O’Malley to associate. www.milestonepartners.com
• Kurt von Moltke has joined Jenner & Block as a Chicago-based partner and co-chair of the law firm’s M&A practice. He previously spent more than 26 years with Kirkland & Ellis. www.jenner.com
• Desmond Nugent has joined OpenGate Capital as a Los Angeles-based principal. He previously was a principal with Gores Group. www.opengatecapital.com
• Neil Tolaney has joined Francisco Partners as a San Francisco-based principal. He previously spent three years with PersonalizationMall.com and, before that, was a VP with Technology Crossover Ventures. www.franciscopartners.com
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