By Dan Primack
October 21, 2016

Random Ramblings

Some quick notes to kick off your Friday…

• North of the border: Vancouver is abuzz this morning after local stalwart Lululemon said it might move its headquarters out of Canada if it doesn’t get an exemption to certain foreign worker rules. But Term Sheet doesn’t really cover Canadian labor issues, so let’s pivot this to how Campfire Ventures ― a retail-focused VC firm founded in Vancouver by ex-Lululemon execs ― just closed its debut fund with US$31 million in capital commitments (including $6m from BDC).

The fund’s two full-timers are Brooke Harley (ex-head of biz dev at Lululemon) and Manica Gautam (ex-Citi and Onex, who turned down a Lulu job but, through the process, became close with Harley). It’s other two partners ― and members of the investment committee ― are Christine Day (ex-Lulu CEO) and John Currie (ex- Lulu CFO).

Gautam tells me that as Campfire was getting launched, she and Harley actually lived together in order to save money, and that the fund’s first close last year on C$10 million came from 30 current and former Lululemon employees. So far it has invested nearly C$6 million into four deals: Frank & Oak, Juicero, Figs and Cotopaxi.

• Refresh! I said refresh! For everyone else, the big news earlier this morning was that the Internet briefly broke. Twitter? Down. Spotify? Down. Reddit? Down. Airbnb? Down. My corporate overlord’s homepage? Down.

Early reports suggest a denial-of-service attack against Dyn, a Manchester, N.H.-based DNS company that recently raised $50 million in Series B funding from Pamplona Capital Management on around a $306 million pre-money valuation. Before that it had raised around $50 million from firms like North Bridge Growth Partners and Borealis Ventures.

So while most talk of unicorns and tech giants revolves around Silicon Valley and New York, it seems a lot of them rely on a relatively low-valued company in New Hampshire…

• Lee-ving Yahoo: Sequoia Capital yesterday announced that it is bringing on Jess Lee as an investing partner. For the uninitiated, Jess is a onetime Googler (background) who went on to lead fashion e-commerce site Polyvore, which late last year was bought by Yahoo for $230 million. Two notes:

1. There has been some suggestion that Sequoia pounced after the Verizon deal with Yahoo (where Lee is still working for the next few weeks), or that this was the firm trying to recover from partner Mike Moritz’s tone-deaf statement last December about not accepting “lower standards” in its search for a female partner. But my understanding is that Sequoia actually first approached Lee before Moritz’s comment (thus also well before Verizon deal), but that the recruiting process took over a year.

2. Sequoia is a bit squirrely when it comes to formal titles, but Lee will have fund economics and a vote on new deals. Basically what most other firms would call a general partner or managing director.

• Complete argument: Based on a number of emails received yesterday, it seems that some folks only read a few paragraphs of yesterday’s column on Peter Thiel before throwing it down in disgust. Now I’m fine with throwing things for most any reason but, if this happens to describe you, I’d suggest you first read the full thing

• Have a great weekend… Go Pats!


THE BIG DEAL

• British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS) has offered to acquire the 58% stake it doesn’t already down in Reynolds American (NYSE: RAI) for $56.50 per share in cash and stock (20% premium over yesterday’s closing price). Read more.


VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS

• New Dada, a China food delivery offshoot of JD.com (Nasdaq: JD), has raised $50 million in new strategic funding from Wal-Mart. Existing backers include Sequoia Capital and Yuri Milner. Read more.

• BlackThorn Therapeutics, a South San Francisco-based developer of drug treatments for neurobehavioral disorders, has raised $40 million in Series A funding. ARCH Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Altitude Life Science Ventures, Mercury Fund, Alexandria Real Estate Equities and an undisclosed crossover fund. www.blackthornrx.com

• Verdigris, a San Francisco-based developer of AI solutions for smart buildings, has raised $6.7 million in new VC funding. Jabil led the round, and was joined by Verizon Ventures. www.verdigris.co

• Atipica, a San Mateo, Calif.-based talent discovery engine, has raised $2 million in seed funding. True Ventures led the round, and was joined by Kapor Capital, Precursor Ventures and individual angels.
www.atipica.co


PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS

• Apollo Global Management, Bain Capital and Lone Star Funds have been short-listed in the auction for Xella International SA, German building materials company being sold by PAI Partners and Goldman Sachs for around €2 billion, according to Reuters. Read more.

• CreativeDrive, a New York-based digital content creation network, has acquired local peer Hudson Studios for an undisclosed amount. CreativeDrive is a portfolio company of Bertram Capital Partners. www.creativedrive.com


IPOs

• Altice USA is prepping an IPO that could value the cable operator at between $25 billion and $30 billion, according to Reuters. The company was created via Altice NV’s (Amsterdam: ATV) acquisitions and merger of Cablevision and Suddenlink Communications, and includes such shareholders as BC Partners and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. Read more


EXITS

• Acrisure LLC, a Caledonia, Mich.-based insurance brokerage, has agreed to a management buyout that will result in the exist of current majority shareholder Genstar Capital. www.acrisure.com

• Wipro Ltd. (NYSE: WIT) has agreed to acquire Appirio, an Indianapolis-based enterprise cloud services company, for $500 million. Appirio had raised around $110 million in VC funding, including a $35 million Series E round last year at a $535 million post-money valuation. Shareholders include Fidelity, Lead Edge Capital, SharesPost, General Atlantic, GGV Capital and Sequoia Capital. Read more.


OTHER DEALS

• AT&T (NYSE: T) has held informal talks with Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) about a takeover, according to Bloomberg. Read more.

• Burberry Group (LSE: BRBY) shares climbed nearly 6% in early trading today, after a Betaville report said that the company is considering a merger with Coach (NYSE: COH). Read more.

 

• Everyday Health Inc., a New York-based digital platform for healthcare marketers, has hired Qatalyst to explore a possible sale, according to Reuters. The company has a current market cap of around $314 million, compared to a $415 million market cap when it went public in March 2014. Read more.

• Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to sell $206,000 acres of “non-core” oil and gas properties in Western Canada to Tourmaline Oil (TSX: TOU) for $1.03 billion. Read more.

• Venbrook Group LLC, a Woodland Hills, Calif.-based property/casualty brokerage, has secured $42 million in debt capital from Madison Capital Funding. www.venbrook.com


FIRMS & FUNDS

• The British government has hired Evercore Partners to sell off “the private equity portfolio it inherited when it took on the Royal Mail PLC pension’s assets and liabilities, according to Bloomberg. The portfolio could be valued at around £600 million. Read more.


MOVING IN, UP AND ON

• Sasha Brown has joined The Ecosystem Integrity Fund, a San Francisco-based VC firm, as a New York-based principal. She previously was with New World Capital. www.ecosystemintegrity.com

• Scott Coleman has joined Ignition Partners as a Los Altos, Calif.-based business development partner. He previously led Startup Growth Partners for Microsoft. www.ignitionpartners.com

• Raj Kapoor, a former managing director with VC firm Mayfield, has joined Lyft as chief strategy officer. Read more.

 

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