On deals and dealmakers.
THE CRAFT BEER BATTLE MOVES TO CHINA
Good morning, Term Sheet readers. Today’s column (tipple?) is from Fortune editor Matt Heimer. Enjoy.
When I moved from New York to Chicago in 2011, I didn’t realize that I was relocating to what was about to become the Silicon Valley of craft beer. As of last month, there were 172 independent breweries in Chicago and its suburbs, according to beer blog The Hop Review. And if that sounds a little insane to you, keep in mind that (a) Chicago winters are really, really long, and a hoppy IPA can really take the edge off; and more importantly (b) the craft-beer industry is arguably the biggest start-up success story of this century that doesn’t involve the Internet.
In the wider beer world, craft is where all the action is. Consumption of mass-market beer brands has been steadily declining for several years—in fact, beer in general has been losing ground to wine and hard liquor—but craft breweries collectively have been registering double-digit annual sales gains. In the early 1980s, there were fewer than 100 breweries in the U.S.; last November, we passed the 5,000 mark.
Craft beer isn’t just where the growth is, it’s where the profits are. A six-pack of Bud Light retails for about five bucks—and so does a single bottle of Lagunitas Imperial Milk Stout. Yes, it costs more to make a coriander-infused sour ale than it does to make the same amount of Natty Light, but you’re going to make that up, and then some, at retail or in the bars.
And don’t think Big Beer hasn’t realized that. In recent years, the world’s biggest brewers—including Heineken, Constellation and the very biggest of them all, Anheuser-Busch InBev—have been playing catch-up, either outright acquiring or buying major stakes in craft brewers to buy the kind of growth that they’re no longer generating from their mass-market brands. No brewer has been more aggressive on this front than AB InBev, the global beer-glomerate steered by Brazilian private-equity giant 3G Capital, which graduated from huge to enormous last year when it completed its merger with rival SABMiller. Fortune’s John Kell has tracked AB InBev as it bagged trophy after trophy on the suds savannah: Between 2011 and 2016, it bought nine craft brewers. (Ironically enough, once a craft brewer sells out to a big brewer that can give it global reach, it’s no longer considered craft. Just ask Lagunitas, Ballast Point, Breckenridge and Four Peaks Brewery, all of which recently lost their “craft” designation under Brewers Association rules, as John reported Wednesday.)
Among the first of AB InBev’s acquisitions was the beloved Chicago brand Goose Island, and that’s the beer that central to the story Fortune’s Scott Cendrowski tells in a new feature this week. China is the world’s biggest beer market (beer is the most widely consumed beverage there, after tea), and Beijing, Shanghai and other big cities in China are developing beer-snob cultures of their own.
AB InBev wants to make sure it doesn’t miss China’s craft boom the way it missed America’s. Goose Island, Scott explains, “brews exotic beers that it ages in French wine casks and bourbon barrels, and has the kind of cute animal logo that can turn heads, and tastes, in China.” But the brand also has all of AB InBev’s considerable cash flow and muscle behind it, and big brewer is using every advantage it can think of—from selling Goose Island below cost to paying young Chinese hipsters to drink it—in order to make sure it’s the top craft brand on everyone’s lips.
Scott’s analysis of AB InBev’s strategy is colorful, comical and sometimes disturbing; you can read the whole thing here. Enjoy it responsibly. —Matt Heimer
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• Apple, Google, and Facebook haven’t joined the legal fight against Trump’s travel ban this time.
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• Livongo Health, a Mountain View, Calif. consumer digital health company that provides mobile diabetes management tools, raised $52.5 million in funding. Kinnevik and General Catalyst led the round.
• AliveCor, a Mountain View, Calif. maker of an FDA-cleared mobile electrocardiogram reader for consumers, raised $30 million in Series D funding. Omron Healthcare and Mayo Clinic led the round. Read more at Fortune.
• Flock, a San Francisco messaging and collaboration app for enterprises, raised $25 million from CEO and founder Bhavin Turakhia.
• Helpling, a Berlin provider of on-demand cleaning services, raised €10 million ($10.7 million) in funding, according to TechCrunch. The financing, which was led by Asia Pacific Internet Group, lowers the valuation of the company from its last funding round in March 2015. Read more.
• CareDox, a New York platform that helps parents, schools, and caretakers manage and share children’s health data with doctors, raised $6.4 million in Series A funding. Digitalis Ventures led the round, and was joined by First Round Capital, Giza Venture Capital, TEXO Ventures, and Prolog Ventures.
• TimeTrade, a Boston online appointment scheduling platform for enterprises, raised $6.3 million in Series E funding. Origami Capital Partners led the round, and was joined by Ascent Venture Partners and existing investors.
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• Collective Retreats, a Wolcott, Colo. experiential travel company, raised $2.5 million in seed funding from First Round Capital, Slow Ventures, BoxGroup, BBG Ventures, and angel investors.
• Countable, an Oakland Calif. digital platform for modern civic engagement, raised $2 million in seed funding from Canaan Partners.
• Baker, a Denver customer engagement software company for marijuana dispensaries, raised an additional $1.6 million in seed funding, closing the round at $3.5 million.
• ShopChat, a San Francisco messaging commerce startup, raised $1.25 million in funding. Rakuten (TSE:4755) led the round.
HEALTH + LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
• eGenesis, a biotechnology company focused on utilizing genome editing technology in medical procedures, raised a $38 million in Series A funding. Biomatics Capital and ARCH Venture Partners led the round, with participation from Khosla Ventures, Alta Partners, Alexandria Venture Investments, Heritage Provider Network, Berggruen Holdings North America, Uprising, and Fan Ventures.
• Peloton Therapeutics, a Dallas drug discovery and development company, raised $22.2 million in additional Series D funding, closing the round at $74.6 million.
• 908 Devices, a Boston developer of analytical devices for chemical and biomolecule analysis, raised $20 million in funding. Investors include Tao Capital Partners, Cormorant Asset Management, Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, ARCH Venture Partners, Razor’s Edge Ventures, Schlumberger, and Casdin Capital.
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PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Enlightenment Capital invested in 1901 Group, a managed services provider for the public and private sector. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
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• Focus Products Group, a Lincolnshire, Ill. supplier of home products backed by Centre Lane Partners, sold its housewares and wine divisions to The Legacy Companies. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
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FIRMS + FUNDS
• Biomatics Capital Partners, a Seattle healthcare and life sciences venture firm, raised $200 million for its debut fund.
• TowerBook Capital made a series of hires: Walter Weil joined the firm as a senior principal, Ron van Loo as a senior principal, and Jeroen Bischops as a principal. Weil is working out of the firm’s New York office, while van Loo and Bischops are London-based.
• Shawn McMenimen joined Gen II Fund Services as a senior managing director.
• Genstar Capital promoted Katie Solomon to managing director of talent management, Melissa Dickerson to chief financial officer and managing director of operations, and Ben Marshall to principal.
• Walter Isaacson will join Perella Weinberg Partners as an advisory partner.