On deals and dealmakers.
Good morning from stormy NYC.
HARASSMENT: One of the many, many problems with male venture capitalists sexually harassing female entrepreneurs is that there is no formal working relationship in these scenarios. Unless they are physically assaulted, the victims of harassment do not have the same legal recourse they’d get if they were coworkers.
That could change in California. A group called the Equal Rights Advocates has sponsored an amendment to the California Unruh Act, proposed by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, that will make sexual harassment in the investor-entrepreneur relationship illegal. “No matter how well intentioned, decency pledges won’t cut it,” Noreen Farrell, ERA’s Executive Director, said in a statement. The NVCA welcomes the bill.
Making it illegal for VC’s to harass entrepreneurs is an important loophole to close. Changing a culture that allows harassment and discrimination to flourish will be more difficult. As a refresher, here are some of the many proposals for how that might happen.
EVERYONE’S A TECH COMPANY: Private tech investments from Fortune 500 companies are growing in every sector, according to CN Insights. In 2014, just 29% of the corporate investments from Fortune 500 companies came from non-tech companies (think Goldman Sachs, Disney, GE and Anthem, Mastercard, Ford and Coca-Cola). To date this year, 51% of the venture-style deals from Fortune 500s came from non-tech companies. In other words, the non-tech corporations are on pace to surpass the investment activity of the tech companies. Financial companies are the most active investor, with Goldman Sachs leading the pack.
CRYPTO: Do you have a cryptocurrency hedge fund yet? Everyone has a crypto hedge fund now. The latest is Lewis Fellas, who you might remember as a portfolio manager at Harvard’s endowment. He’s raising $200 million, according to Bloomberg. That’s at the high end of the 70-odd crypto funds out there. PS. Here’s one bro-y counter-take on the crypto fund mania.
THE BOLD AND THE UBERFUL: (Sorry, I’m still workshopping my soap opera puns.) The Benchmark vs. Travis Kalanick saga continues. Kalanick has filed to dismiss Benchmark’s lawsuit against him. There are all kinds of other complaints in the filing, such as, why didn’t Benchmark say anything about being “fraudulently induced” into approving the board seat when it asked Kalanick to resign? But this is mainly to force the suit into arbitration, arguing that the Delaware Chancery Court “lacks jurisdiction” to resolve it.
Have a great weekend! 😎
THE LATEST FROM FORTUNE...
• Kevin Hart’s budding comedy empire.
• Why Trumpcare’s death doesn’t mean Obamacare is saved.
• What Disney’s Snub of Netflix means.
• A map of the world’s most expensive stock markets.
• Blockchain and Bitstamp add Ethereum.
• So much for Ford’s 2021 deadline for full autonomy.
Hatecore. The incredible shrinking airline seat. A three-hour commute in the Bay area. Applebee’s tried to be cool and failed. Chinese tech workers wanted: women need not apply. The ACLU will no longer defend hate groups with firearms. Chuck E. Cheese is breaking up the band. Confederate leaders/ descendants say statues can come down. Bitcoin better than gold?
• Ripcord, a Hayward, Calif.-based robotic digitization company, raised $25 million in equity and $15 million in debt for a total of $40 million in Series B funding. Icon Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Kleiner Perkins, Lux Capital, and Silicon Valley Bank.
• Immersv, an Emeryville, Calif.-based interactive advertising platform for Mobile 360 and virtual reality, raised $10.5 million in Series A funding. Rogers Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Foundation Capital, The Venture Reality Fund, Initial Capital, East Ventures, HTC Vive, MCJ Co. Ltd., GREE, i-mobile, Metaps, and Gigi Levy.
• LiftIgniter, a San Francisco-based provider of a machine intelligence-powered personalization tool, raised $6.4 million in Series A funding. Storm Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Rincon Venture Partners, Revel Partners, NTT DOCOMO Ventures Inc.
• SVAcademy, a San Francisco-based vocational program for technology sales and business development positions, raised $2 million in funding. Investors include Bloomberg Beta, Rethink Education, Precursor Ventures, Uprising Ventures, 500 Startups and WTI.
HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
• Unity Biotechnology, a Brisbane, Calif.-based biotechnology company that’s aiming to create therapeutics that prevent, halt, or reverse numerous diseases of aging, raised an additional $35 million in Series B funding that brings the round to $151 million. Investors include INVUS Opportunities, Three Lakes Partners, Cycad Group, COM Investments, and Pivotal Alpha Limited.
• 3Bar Biologics, a Columbus, Ohio-based provider of a beneficial microbe delivery system, raised $2 million in funding. Investors include Rev1 Ventures, Maumee Ventures, Ohio TechAngel Funds, Queen City Angels, Carmen Innovations, and SVG Thrive Fund.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Artemis Capital Partners acquired StanChem Incorporated, an East Berlin, Conn.-based specialty chemicals manufacturer. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Five Arrows Principal Investments acquired a minority stake in Opus 2 International, a London-based provider of collaborative legal technology. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Blackstone has agreed to acquire Harvest Fund Advisors LLC, a Wayne, Penn.-based provider of public market energy infrastructure and MLP investment solutions for institutional investors. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• JW Hill Capital acquired GKN Aerospace Bandy Machining, Inc., a subsidiary of GKN Aerospace. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• ConvergeOne, which is backed by Clearlake Capital, acquired Strategic Products and Services, a Parsippany, N.J.-based multivendor communication and networking managed service provider. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• United Claim Solutions, which is backed by Great Point Partners, acquired INETICO, a Tampa, Fla.-based provider of health care cost containment services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Encore Consumer Capital made an investment of an undisclosed amount in Veggie Noodle Co, an Austin, Texas-based food brand.
• Silver Run Acquisition Corporation II (NasdaqCM: SRUN) agreed to combine with Alta Mesa Holdings, a Houston-based exploration and production company, and Kingfisher Midstream, a Dover, Okla.-based company engaged in the gathering, processing, and marketing of hydrocarbons in the STACK play. The combined company will be valued at approximately $3.8 billion.
• Yunfeng Financial Group acquired MassMutual International’s Hong Kong unit for $1.7 billion in a cash and stock deal, according to Reuters. Yunfeng will own 60% of MassMutual Asia. Read more.
• eSolutions acquired RemitDATA Inc, a Memphis, Tenn.-based healthcare technology company. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, a Cos Cob, Conn.-based video producer, raised $30 million in an Reg A+ IPO. Chicken Soup offered 2.5 million shares at $12 a piece. HCFP/Capital Markets, Benchmark, and Weild & Co. are joint bookrunners in the deal. In 2016, Chicken Soup posted earnings of $781,133 on revenue of $8.1 million. The company will list on the Nasdaq Friday as “CSSE.”
• Carlyle and Southern Capital Group are in talks to sell their majority stake in Solusi Tunas Pratama (JKSE:SUPR) in a deal that could value the Indonesian telecoms tower operator at about $1 billion, according to Reuters. Read more.
Boatsetter acquired Boatbound, a San Francisco-based peer-to-peer boat rental marketplace. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Boatbound had raised approximately $5 million in venture funding from investors including 500 Startups, Atlas Ventures, Brunswick, and Kima Ventures.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• Matt Nichols joined Commerce Ventures as a general partner. Previously, Nichols was the CEO of Gemvara.