Deal: Podium, an enterprise software startup, is working with investment bank Houlihan Lokey to raise a large new round of funding, Term Sheet has learned. The company seeks around $20 million to $25 million at a pre-money valuation of around $100 million. The company declined to comment.
Outside of participating in Y Combinator’s winter 2016 batch, the Utah-based startup has kept a low profile in Silicon Valley. For the last several months, Podium has made the rounds on Sand Hill road in what venture investors describe as an “unconventional” fundraise. The company asked firms to submit a formal “indication of interest” (IOI) before beginning due diligence, and used an online data room. One investor described it as more akin to a private equity deal or M&A auction than venture fundraising, which tends to be less formal. Podium recently narrowed down its fundraising process and will finalize the deal soon.
Podium’s software allows businesses to collect and manage online reviews. Founded in 2014, it has only raised a small amount of seed funding from Peak Ventures of Provo, Utah, and it boasts 30,000 customers. Now the company’s annual recurring revenue (ARR) is between $10 million and $15 million, a source familiar with the situation said.
Investors note the company’s revenue has “velocity,” meaning it is growing quickly, especially in the automotive market. One of its key features allows customers to text customers after they leave a store or dealership. Podium is different from Podium Data, a Boston-area startup.
Coming to terms: The Honest Company is weighing whether to replace its CEO and co-founder Brian Lee, according to Jason Del Rey of Recode. Lee provided some detail on why The Honest Company’s sale talks with Unilever fell through: “We couldn’t come to a correct structure and correct value and correct partnership.” That led him to realize “what it takes to become a world-class CPG organization with world-class products.”
In other words, The Honest Company isn’t pitching itself as a tech startup anymore. It’s a big about-face from December, when Lee told Fortune’s Beth Kowitt, “Technology is in our DNA.” When pressed, Lee said, “We don’t really think of ourselves as either. We’re a way of life.”
Seventh Generation, the company Unilever bought instead of The Honest Company, has been operating as a CPG organization for decades. As Beth noted:
Honest took in tech-level funding—$228 million in five years, while Seventh Generation raised less than $100 million in its nearly 30-year history. Honest also staffed up like a startup. It has about three times as many employees as Seventh Generation, despite having roughly the same level of sales. Maybe staffing and funding wouldn’t matter quite so much if the home care category wasn’t such a low-margin one.
Hyperloop Two: Brogan BamBrogan, the former CTO of Hyperloop One, is known for his lawsuit with the company, and also for announcing an office expansion by bursting through a wall wearing a Kool-Aid suit.
A few months after settling with his former employer, BamBrogan has unveiled his new hyperloop company in L.A. called Arrivo. In an interview with my colleague Kirsten Korosec, BamBrogram says Arrivo plans to establish two test sites, one outside of the U.S., and will have revenue-generating projects within three years. The company already has “initial funding in place” but will not share any details on the source or the amount of that funding. (P.S. Term Sheet accepts anonymous tips.)
Snapshot: Yesterday Snap updated its S-1 filing with a few details, including the fact that board member Joanna Coles is getting paid more than the initial filing showed.
The company also updated sections on shareholder information rights (we common people have them, even though we can’t vote on said information!) and on its slowing user growth (blame lower-engagement regions outside of the U.S. and Europe). Those were two of the biggest red flags the media focused on besides Snap’s lack of profits. This update shows that Snap, or at least Snap’s bankers, are paying close attention to how the world reacted. I’ve said it before, but I’ll keep repeating it: For IPOs, narrative is king.
Layoff watch: Austin marketing technology startup Spredfast has laid off 47 employees and closed its Madison, Wisc. office. The employees joined the startup via the acquisition of Shoutlet. Xconomy first reported on an internal memo announcing the news. Spredfast is backed by $114 million in funding from Austin Ventures, Lead Edge Capital, OpenView, and Riverwood Capital. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
Layoff watch II: Zenefits’ new CEO Jay Fulcher is wasting no time. The company cut 430, or around half, of its employees.
In other news: To end things on a slightly more positive note… Here’s a drone that pollinates flowers, here are some people literally saving the whales, here’s a story on the women of Star Wars, and here are some lessons on aging well from a 105-year-old biker. Have a great weekend!
THE LATEST FROM FORTUNE...
• Twitter is the one company that should be benefitting most from Trump. It’s not.
• How fintech can take off without being hampered by regulations.
• New bills on equal pay, paid leave will test the GOP’s willingness to follow Trump’s lead
• China will become the world’s largest economy before 2030.
• Weather derivatives not raining (snowing?) in the cash for Wall Street.
• Drone deliveries aren’t coming soon.
• More on how badly Theranos screwed up.
• Trump’s tweets are losing their bite.
• Kushner’s family wants to buy the Marlins.
Wtf happened to winter? Murdoch sat in on an interview with Trump. (subscription required.) NBA could start a league of pro video game players. Trump is to Twitter what Roosevelt is to radio. Confused by bay leaves. Evan Spiegel fiancé Miranda Kerr shades Facebook: “Can they not be innovative? Do they have to steal all of my partner’s ideas?” Chinese companies rush in where bankers fear to lend.
• CarTrade, an Indian online auto classified company, raised $55 million from Temasek.
• Evident.io, a Pleasanton, Calif. provider of cloud infrastructure security services for Amazon Web Services, raised $22 million in Series C funding led by GV with participation from existing investors Bain Capital, True Ventures and Venrock.
• Better Mortgage, a New York City-based mortgage bank, raised $15 million in Series B funding from Kleiner Perkins, Goldman Sachs, and Pine Brook.
• MediaSilo, a Boston-based provider of video collaboration software, has merged with Wiredrive, a Los Angeles-based collaboration tool company, and raised $7 million in funding from Schooner Capital.
• TruSTAR, a San Francisco-based cybersecurity company, raised $5 million in Series A funding. Storm Ventures led the round, and was joined by Aspect Ventures, Resolute Ventures, and angel investors.
• SpaceKnow, a San Francisco-based analytics platform that track global economic trends, raised $4 million in Series A funding. BlueYard Capital led the round, and was joined by Reflex Capital.
• Cinemood, a Moscow-based maker of projector devices, raised $2.5 million in Series A funding from IIDF.
• Tipit, an Israeli artificial reality platform, raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Atooro Fund.
• HeadBox, a UK digital marketplace for spaces, has raised £1.4 million ($1.7 million) in funding from angel investors.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Blackstone Group has agreed to acquire Aon’s (NYSE:AON) technology-enabled HR platform, currently part of Aon Hewitt, for $4.8 billion, $500 million of which is based on future performance. Read more at Fortune.
• Calera Capital acquired a majority stake in the Evans Network of Companies, a Schuylkill Haven, Pa.-based logistics company, from AEA Investors. Terms weren’t disclosed.
• KKR has acquired a 14% stake in GFK, a German research firm. KKR plans to acquire a majority control of the company. Michael Dell’s MSD Capital is competing with the firm for control of GFK.
Tailwind Capital has made an equity investment in AST, a Naperville, Ill.-based Oracle consulting, implementation and managed services firm.
• Telefonica, the Spanish telecom company, is in talks with KKR, CVC, Ardian, and GIC regarding the sale of a 49 percent stake in its subsidiary Telxius, according to Reuters. Read more.
• Soaring Pine Capital has acquired ETI Tech, a Dayton, Ohio provider of flight hardware parts for the aerospace defense industry. Terms were not disclosed.
• Enhesa, Brussels-based regulatory compliance company, has raised growth capital of an undisclosed size from Waterland Private Equity investments.
• Pelican Energy Partners, has made a growth equity investment in Quinn Artificial Lift Services, a Red Deer, Alberta, manufacturer of downhole rod pumps and components and provider of aftermarket repair services to the oil and gas industry. Terms were not disclosed.
• Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund is considering a bid for Six Flags Entertainment (NYSE: SIX) according to Bloomberg. Read more.
• Carlsberg is considering a bid for a 20% stake in Tsingtao Brewery, a Chinese beer maker owned by Asahi Group Holdings, according to Bloomberg. Read more.
• Reckitt Benckiser (LON:RB) has agreed to buy Mead Johnson Nutrition (NYSE:MJN), a U.S. infant formula maker, for $16.6 billion. Read more at Fortune.
• Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is offering 2 euros per share for remaining shares in Euro Disney. The company recently bought 9% of the business from Price Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holdings, increasing its holding to 85.7% from 76.7%. Read more.
• Foundation Building Materials (NYSE: FBM) priced of its IPO of 12 million shares (with the option to sell an additional 1.9 million) at $14 per share. The company is owned by Lone Star Funds.
• Sun Seven Stars agreed to acquire a majority stake in Grapevine, a Boston-based social media influencer platform. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Grapevine raised $1.29 million from investors including Boston Seed Capital.
• Shop.Co, a German startup, has acquired San Francisco eCommerce startup Zen Shopping. Zen Shopping raised funding from e42 Ventures and angel investors.
• QuoVadis, a provider of cybersecurity services owned by ABRY Partners has agreed to sell to WISeKey (SIX: WIHN), a Swiss cybersecurity company. Terms were not disclosed.
• Dominus Capital sold Bentley Mills, a Los Angeles-based manufacturer of commercial interior products, to Lone Star.
• Airbnb is close to acquiring Luxury Retreats, a Canadian travel booking company, for under $300 million, according to Bloomberg. (TechCrunch values the deal at around $200 million). Luxury Retreats raised $16 million in VC funding from iNovia Capital. Read more.
• Palamon Capital Partners sold SARquavitae, a provider of elderly care services in Span, for for 550 million euros ($584 million).
FIRMS + FUNDS
• Greycroft has raised $250 million for its second growth equity fund, Greycroft Growth II.
• Paine & Partners is now Paine Schwartz Partners. Dexter Paine will remain chairman. Former president Kevin Schwartz is now CEO.
• Carlyle Group is planning to raise a its third financial-services-focused buyout fund, according to the Wall Street Journal. Carlyle Global Financial Services Partners II LP, a 2014 vintage, had $1 billion in commitments and was 80% invested as of Dec. 31. Read more.
• Aqua Capital has raised $300 million for its second South American agro-business fund, according to the Wall Street Journal. The fund had a $250 million target. Read more. (Subscription required.)
• BB&T Capital Markets added David Keys as a managing director, Dave Endom as a vice president, and Tim Lufkin as a appointed managing director.
• Liu Wei has joined Baidu Ventures as CEO, according to China Money Network. He was formerly a partner at Legend Holdings’ venture arm Legend Star. Read more. Read more.
• Casey Winters, formerly of Pinterest and Grubhub, has joined Greylock as a Growth Advisor in Residence.