On deals and dealmakers.
Good morning from Aspen, where I’m co-chairing Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference!
I’ll be kicking off the conference today interviewing two entrepreneurs from the self-driving car world: Kyle Vogt of Cruise Automation, which sold to General Motors last year for $1 billion, and Tim Kentley-Klay of Zoox, a stealthy self-driving company that’s valued at over $1 billion. Later I’ll be talking tech stocks with two top analysts: Mark Mahaney and Brent Thill.
Other highlights from today’s agenda include Davis Wang, CEO of Chinese bike sharing startup Mobike, Michael Dell and Silver Lake’s Egon Durban, Marne Levine, the top business exec at Instagram, the CEOs of Priceline and Qualcomm, and General Stanley McChrystal. You can follow along on our livestream here.
Also: We’ve just added Marissa Mayer and Niniane Wang, CEO of Evertoon and one of the women who spoke up about Justin Caldbeck, to our agenda for Wednesday morning. (Also on Wednesday: former colleagues SoFi CEO Mike Cagney and Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan.)
Much more on all of that tomorrow. For now, here’s some commentary on the weekend’s news:
UBER EXIT: Benchmark held talks to sell some of its Uber shares to SoftBank, according to Bloomberg. SoftBank isn’t planning on investing in Uber, according to the story. But if it were, I’d have to ask: Is the global ride-hail industry so utterly complicated and conflicted that we don’t even care who is on what side anymore?
SoftBank is an investor in Ola, Uber’s biggest rival in India, and Grab, it’s biggest rival in Southeast Asia, and Alibaba, which is an investor in Lyft.
As I said in January, everyone involved in ride-sharing – Apple, Didi, Uber, SoftBank, Alibaba, Grab, Lyft, Ola, ARM Holdings, 99, Google — is in some way connected by investment to a competitor, a supplier, an investor or an ally.
ALSO: In another reminder that SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son is the most unpredictable and fascinating dealmaker out there, Son met with Warren Buffett and John Malone at Sun Valley to discuss possibly selling his 80% stake in Sprint. “The contours of the deal the parties are discussing are unclear,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
YES, MORE: BetterWorks, a provider of performance management software, and its CEO Kris Duggan, regional VP Matt Hart and VP of People Operations Tamara Cooksey, have been sued for assault, harassment, and discrimination. In other words, a company that makes HR software is accused of treating its employees badly.
• BetterWorks is backed by $35 million in funding from Emergence Capital Partners and Kleiner Perkins. But the relationship with Kleiner goes deeper: Duggan and John Doerr wrote an advice book together, which is scheduled to come out in the fall. (There’s a galley sitting on my desk at Fortune HQ.) It’s about OKR’s – basically, business goals and how to manage them. The book is a series of case studies, including one chapter about BetterWorks itself.
• There are lots of horrible details in the lawsuit, which can be read here. But I was particularly disgusted by the accusation that BetterWorks’ VP of People Operations, Tamara Cooksey, allegedly dismissed complaints as “cattiness” and “a female thing” while advising women against raising formal complaints and telling them to be “a cool girl.”
If the phrase “cool girl” does not make you want to scream into a pillow, I recommend any of these articles that explain the concept: The myth of the “cool tech girl.” The dangers of the cool girl ideal. Against cool girl feminism.
So much of the sexism and discrimination women encounter in the workplace – any workplace, not just the tech industry – is subtle and difficult to pinpoint. The pressure to be a “cool girl” and shrug it off only perpetuates the problem.
Over the last couple of weeks, a number of women in tech have told me that while they’ve never experienced sexual harassment from investors or coworkers, they have been discriminated against in ways that are too nuanced and complicated to do anything about. These are women who have decided they’ll never work at all-male partnerships again, or who have jumped from tech to finance, where they say there’s a stronger separation between the personal and professional, or who want to stay in venture and fix the problem but are tired of being labeled the “problematic one” when they speak up.
At the same time, a number of readers have told me that I shouldn’t lump Ellen Pao’s lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins into the current set of complaints because she lost, and there was no “smoking gun.” But that’s the difference between harassment and discrimination. One requires an explosive accusation of a potentially illegal act, and one is tiny and quietly humiliating and happens every day. They exist on the same spectrum, and both contribute to the tech industry’s problem with women – a problem that is not going to just disappear on its own if everyone can just act “cool.”
ALSO: Fred Destin, formerly of Accel and Atlas Partners, wrote a blog post last month that outlined a situation from 2013 in which he made an entrepreneur uncomfortable and later apologized. Bloomberg reports that LPs are giving extra scrutiny to the $100 million fund he is raising as a result.
In a statement to Bloomberg, he said: “I clearly offended someone while dancing at a party back in 2013 and I am genuinely sorry. But I can clearly say I have never used my position as a VC in an inappropriate way; to say otherwise is simply wrong.” Read more here.
SNAP M&A: Snap looked at acquiring AdRoll, an adtech company, according to Business Insider. A source in the story compares the potential deal to Google’s $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick in 2007. That’s a bad comparison, for a lot of reasons. I’ll name a few here:
• Google already had a significant, profitable search ad business when it bought DoubleClick, a $300 million-revenue display ad business. A big piece of the deal was keeping Microsoft, which has not exactly killed it at advertising, away from the asset.
• AdRoll is not an adjacent business in that way: It primarily does retargeting.
• From the tweeting masses: “An equivalent move for Snapchat would be buying a large performance marketing business with skilled management to tack onto their brand business.
• And also: “Performance marketers require scale and Snapchat doesn’t have that. Tacking on a demand side solution won’t help.”
THE LATEST FROM FORTUNE...
• White House releases personal data of voters who complained about voting records probe.
• Elon Musk warns about AI dangers again.
• The first and only woman to win the Fields Medal has died.
• Betsy DeVos’ wrong message to sexual assault victims.
• Kaspersky and strained U.S. relations.
• A PE fund formerly valued at $2B is now ‘nearly worthless’
• A bankrupt wedding dress chain apologizes to panicked brides
Can the tech giants be stopped? Non-competes are a big, big problem. Startup crony-ism in the White House. The UK’s FCA is “rolling out the red carpet” for the Saudi Aramco IPO. The rot inside America’s first family. The retirement gap year. James Comey is writing a book.
• Desktop Metal, a Burlington, Mass.-based maker of 3D metal printing devices, raised $115 million in Series D funding. Investors include GV, New Enterprise Associates, GE Ventures, Future Fund, Techtronic Industries, Lux Capital, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
• Vroom, a Grand Prairie, Texas-based online auto retailer, raised $76 million in Series F funding. Investors include T. Rowe Price Associates, L Catterton, General Catalyst Partners and PICO Venture Partners.
• Impact Health, a Pasadena, Calif.-based health insurance recommendation startup, raised $13 million in Series A funding. Investors include Techstars Venture Capital Fund and Foundry Group.
• TemperPack, a New York-based provider of packaging for insulated, temperature-sensitive goods, raised $10 million in funding. SJF Ventures led the round, and was joined by Interplay Ventures, Third Prime Capital and Dolik Ventures.
• Bright.md, a Portland, Ore.-based developer of software for the diagnosis and treatment of common health concerns, raised $8 million in Series B funding. B Capital Group led the round, and was joined by Seven Peaks Ventures.
• Sensome, formerly Instent, a Paris-based developer of micro-sensor technology for smart medical devices, raised €4.7 million ($5.4 million) in seed funding. Investors include Kurma Diagnostics, Paris-Saclay Seed Fund and Idinves Partners.
• Collectly, a Walnut, Calif.-based debt recovery software provider, raised $1.9 million in seed funding, according to TechCrunch. GoAhead Ventures led the round, and was joined by Lightspeed Venture Partners, Index Ventures, WTI, IT-Farm, Cabra.vc, Granatus Ventures, HIVE and OnWave Ventures. Read more.
• PeopleGrove, a Los Angeles, Calif.-based edtech startup, raised $1.8 million in seed funding. Reach Capital led the round, and was joined by Bisk Ventures, Collaborative Fund, Floodgate, GSV, Launch Capital, RiverPark Ventures, and University Ventures.
• TheMednet, a New York-based physician-only community helping each other in treating patients with cancer, raised $1.3 million in seed funding, according to TechCrunch. Investors include Endure Capital, Lumia Capital, The Hope Foundation, and The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation. Read more.
• AdQuick, a Los Angeles, Calif.-based marketplace for outdoor advertising, raised raised $1.1 million in seed funding, according to TechCrunch. Investors include Initialized Capital, VTF Capital, and Haystack Ventures. Read more.
HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
• Enterin Inc, a Philadelphia-based biotechnology company, raised $12.7 million in Series A funding. Investors include New Ventures III.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Carlyle agreed to invest in ZeroChaos, an Orlando, Fla.-based workforce management solutions provider. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• An affiliate of Peak Rock Capital acquired Gold Coast Bakeries, a Santa Ana, Calif.-based producer of organic breads, buns, rolls and sweet goods.
• Gen Cap America Inc acquired Custom Plastic Specialties, an Erie, Penn.-based maker of promotional products. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Align Capital Partners made an investment of an undisclosed amount in Pleatco, a Glen Cove, N.Y.-based pool and spa filtration system provider.
• Zift Solutions, a Durham, N.C.-based provider of Channel as a Service (CHaaS), and Relayware, a Redwood Shores, Calif.-based partnership relationship management software provider, agreed to merge. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Zift is backed by Arrowroot Capital and SSM Partners, and Relayware is backed by Amadeus Capital Partners and Albion Capital Group.
• Unilever (NGSE: UNILEVER) is vying with Hormel Foods Corp (NYSE:HRL) to buy the foods division of Reckitt Benckiser (LSE:RB), according to Reuters. The deal could top 2.2 billion pounds ($2.9 billion). Read more.
• Sony Corp is in the final stages of talks to buy Believe Digital, a Paris-based digital music distributor and label services provider, according to Reuters. Sony Music Entertainment will get a majority stake from the current shareholders for about 40 billion to 50 billion yen ($355.3 million-$444.1 million). Read more.
• Wells Fargo is poised to eliminate a number of its smaller businesses, according to Reuters. Wells Fargo will be spinning off a number of its products “worth hundreds of millions of dollars.” Read more.
• Warner Music Group acquired many of the core assets of Songkick, a Brooklyn, N.Y-based concert discovery platform, including its website and app, along with the trademark. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Read more.
• San Miguel Corp’s billionaire president Ramon Ang said he will buy a majority stake in the Inquirer Group of Companies, one of the Philippines’ biggest media firms and publisher of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Read more.
• Redfin, a Seattle-based tech real estate company, set the terms of its IPO Monday. The company plans to list on the Nasdaq under “RDFN,” offering 9.23 million shares at a range of between $12 to $14 a piece. At the midpoint of the range, Redfin would raise $129.2 million. Goldman Sachs, Allen & Company, Band of America, RBC, Oppenheimer, and Stifel are lead underwriters. The company booked loss of $22.5 million in 2016 on revenue of $267 million. Redfin is backed pre-IPO by Madrona Ventures (11.4%), Greylock Partners(12.4%), Draper Fisher Jurvetson(10.2%), Tiger Global Private Investment Partners(10.5%), Vulcan Capital Ventures(10%), and T. Rowe Price(7.1%).
• BJ Services, an oil and gas services company based out of Tomball, Texas, filed for an IPO to raise $100 million. The company plans to list on the NYSE as “BJS.” In 2016, the company booked revenue of $231 million. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Credit Suisse have been named lead underwriters. BJ Services is backed by CSL Capital Management, and Goldman Sachs.
• Sienna Biopharmaceuticals, a Westlake Village, Calif.-based clinical stage biotech focused on medical dermatology, said it would sell 4.3 million shares at between $14 and $16 a piece. At the midpoint of that range, Sienna would raise about $64.5 million. The company plans to go public on the Nasdaq under “SNNA.” In 2016, the company booked loss of $21.2 million, and reported no revenue. ARCH Venture Partners (23.4%), Partner Fund Management(9.5%), and FMR(6.6%) back the company. J.P. Morgan, Cowen, and BMO Capital Markets are the company’s underwriters.
• Bobby’s Burger Palace, a fast casual chain owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, is reportedly looking toward an IPO under Regulation A+, the Wall Street Journal reported. The company currently has 17 locations in the Northeast. Flay hopes to raise about $15 million.
• MidOcean Partners agreed to sell Water Pik, a Fort Collins, Colo.-based marketer and distributor of branded oral health products, to Church & Dwight Co (NYSE:CHD), for approximately $1 billion in cash.
• Uber acqui-hired Swipe Labs, a San Francisco-based social product studio, according to TechCrunch. Swipe Labs raised $8.2 million in venture funding from Binary Capital, First Round, Greylock Partners, Khosla Ventures, Lowercase Capital, Sherpa Ventures, and SV Angels. Read more.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• Evolution Equity Partners, a New York-based investment firm, raised $125 million for its cybersecurity-focused fund, The Evolution Technology Fund.
• Rethink Impact, a venture capital firm with offices in Washington D.C, New York, and San Francisco, announced its previously reported $112 million fundraise with a letter to female founders on its homepage.
• First Beverage Ventures, the Los Angeles, Calif.-based private equity arm of First Beverage Group, raised $64 million for its second fund, First Beverage Ventures II, L.P, according to an SEC filing.
• David Comeau joined KEEN Growth Capital as a venture partner. Comeau is the founder of DC50 Advisors and former president of Mondelez International Asia Pacific.