Good morning, Term Sheet readers.
CALLING AUDIBLES: Let’s talk sports. StatMuse, a natural language processing company founded in 2014, just launched its first iOS app to coincide with the start of football season. Here’s how it works: sports fans open the app, ask a question about scores or stats, and get an answer in the voice of their favorite player. Think Siri, but for sports.
The company also announced a strategic investment and partnership with the NFL Players Association through the OneTeam Collective. (The OneTeam collective is an accelerator that helps startups obtain the rights to sports-related intellectual property in exchange for equity. Read more about it here.) In total, StatMuse raised $11.75 million in venture funding from some high-profile investors including The Walt Disney Company, Greycroft Partners, Allen & Company, SK Ventures, and David Stern.
When I asked StatMuse, “What is LBJ’s career PPG?” (That’s sports speak for: “What is LeBron James’s career points per game?”), the app responded with, “LeBron James has 27.1 points per game in his career.” (Siri’s response? “I’m afraid I can’t answer that, Pollena.”) Here’s a video of how it works.
It will be interesting to see what happens to StatMuse, particularly if the app’s able to develop a fan base early on. Will it keep raising money, or will a current investor swoop in with an acquisition offer…
A few more details:
• StatMuse is available as an iOS app, but the voice platform will launch on Amazon Alexa in the next few weeks, which means you could ask your Echo a question and hear Peyton Manning’s voice instead of Alexa’s. The app is currently being tested on Google Assistant as well.
• The startup hosted 90-minute voice-recording sessions with 18 of the NFL’s most well-known players, including Peyton Manning, Jerry Rice, and Devonta Freeman. StatMuse has a long-term licensing agreement with the NFLPA for the players’ voice rights. “Today, we only use words that the players actually recorded in the booth,” said StatMuse CEO Eli Dawson. But what about tomorrow? As natural language processing gets more advanced, making it possible for startups to clone anyone’s pitch and speech patterns outside the studio, how will voice rights be licensed?
CHANGE THE WORLD: Today, Fortune published its third annual Change The World List, featuring 56 companies that are making measurable progress addressing important social problems as part of their business model. The top 5 includes J.P. Morgan Chase, Apple, and Novartis. As Alan Murray put it in Fortune’s CEO Daily newsletter this morning, “We’re not saying these companies operate under a halo of unmitigated goodness, nor are we vouching for their every action. All we are doing is shining a spotlight on the fact that each has made measurable progress addressing a societal problem with an innovative business program. And that’s worth celebrating.”
HOT TAKE: Thank you again to everyone who emailed me with thoughts on last week’s question on blockchain. The responses were incredibly insightful and sparked some debate. This week’s question is: If you had $100K, what private company would you invest in right now? Why?
THE LATEST FROM FORTUNE...
• How Fortune’s ‘Change the World’ companies turn doing good into good business (by Clifton Leaf)
• The football industrial complex is in big trouble (by Tom Huddleston)
• The Trump White House gave these mutual funds a big boost (by Chris Taylor)
• WFAN host Craig Carton accused of running a Ponzi-like scheme (by Lisa Marie Segarra)
• OYO, an India-based budget hotel network, raised $250 million in funding, according to TechCrunch. SoftBank led the round, and was joined by investors including Sequoia India, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Greenoaks Capital. Read more.
• Innoviz Technologies, an Israel-based provider of LiDAR sensing solutions, raised $65 million in Series B funding. Investors include Delphi Automotive PLC, Magna International, 360 Capital Partners, Glory Ventures, and Naver. Existing investors including Zohar Zisapel, Vertex Venture Capital, Magma Venture Partners, Amiti Ventures and Delek Motors participated.
• Zipwhip, a Seattle-based software platform for two-way business texting, raised $22.5 million in Series C funding. OpenView led the round, and was joined by investors including Voyager Capital and Microsoft Ventures.
• Favor, an Austin, Texas-based on-demand delivery service, raised $22 million in Series B funding. S3 Ventures led the round.
• Guild Education, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based benefits platform bringing educational opportunities to blue collar workers, raised $21 million in Series B funding. The deal values the company at $125 million. Investors include Bessemer Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Social Capital, Harrison Metal, and Cowboy Ventures.
• Airobotics, an Israel-based building autonomous drones for the enterprise sector, raised $32.5 million in funding. Investors include BlueRun Ventures China, Microsoft Ventures, and OurCrowd.com. Read more.
• NS1, a New York-based intelligent DNS and traffic management provider, raised $20 million in funding. GGV Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Salesforce Ventures, Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, Flybridge Capital Partners, Sigma Prime Ventures, Telstra Ventures and Two Sigma Ventures.
• Weave Communications, Inc., a Pleasant Grove, Utah-based unified patient communication technology platform, raised $17 million in Series B-1 funding. Catalyst Investors led the round, and was joined by investors including Crosslink Capital and Pelion Venture Partners.
• Elastifile, an Israel-based enterprise hybrid cloud data management company, raised $16 million in funding. Western Digital Capital led the round.
• Labster ApS, a Denmark-based producer of virtual laboratory simulations, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Investors include Balderton Capital, Northzone and David Helgason.
• Guru, a Philadelphia-based knowledge management solutions provider, raised $9.3 million in Series A funding. Emergence Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including FirstMark Capital and MSD Capital.
• Metawave Corp, a Palo Alto, Cali.-based wireless tech company, raised $7 million in funding. Investors include Khosla Ventures, Motus Ventures and Thyra Global Management.
• DivvyCloud, an Arlington, Va.-based developer of technology that automates and manages cloud infrastructure, raised $6 million in funding. RTP Ventures led the round.
• Vericool, a Livermore, Calif.-based provider of sustainable packaging, raised $5 million in funding. BillerudKorsnäs Venture AB led the round.
• NOW Money, a Dubai-based fintech startup, raised $1.46 million in funding. Investors include Myrisoph Capital and WAIN.
HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
• Excision BioTherapeutics, a Philadelphia-based life science company focused on the development and commercialization of advanced gene editing therapeutics for the treatment of life-threatening disease caused by neurotropic viruses, raised $10 million in seed funding. ARTIS Ventures led the round.
• OncoStem Diagnostics, a Bangalore, India-based developer of tests for personalized cancer treatment planning, raised $6 million in funding. Sequoia India led the round, and was joined by investors including Artiman Ventures.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Marlin Equity Partners acquired Medius, a Sweden-based provider of cloud-based accounts payable automation software. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Tower Three Partners acquired a controlling stake in Parterre Flooring Systems, a Wilmington, Mass.-based maker of luxury vinyl tile, plank and sheet flooring products. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Clearlake Capital Group, L.P. recapitalized FloWorks International, LLC, a Houston, Texas-based supplier of pipes, valves, and fittings.
• Corbett Technology Solutions, which is backed by Tower Arch Capital, acquired Baltimore Sound Engineering Inc, a Baltimore, Md.-based maker of solutions for fully integrated information and communication systems. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Caisse de depot et Placement du Quebec and Ardian entered into exclusive talks to acquire a significant stake in Alvest, a France-based airport ground support firm, according to Reuters. Read more.
• Petra Capital Partners and MMC Health Services acquired Alternative Behavior Strategies, a Salt Lake City, UT based provider of in-home and center-based applied behavior analysis therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Resilience Capital Partners acquired three medical device service and manufacturing units: Multi Vendor Service unit of Bayer’s Radiology business; Wetsco, Inc.; and MD MedTech, LLC. All three businesses are being combined and will operate under a new holding company, Innovatus Imaging Corporation.
• Wincove Private Holdings and Stone-Goff Partners made investments of an undisclosed amount in Centerline Communications, LLC and TowerNorth Development, LLC. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Fortive Corporation (NYSE: FTV) agreed to merge with Landauer (NYSE: LDR), which is valued at approximately $770 million.
• ALICE acquired GoConcierge, a Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based concierge software platform. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Genpact (NYSE: G) acquired TandemSeven, a Boston-based digital experience consulting company. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Best Inc., an Alibaba-based Chinese supply chain network, announced terms for its IPO of American Depository Shares. The company plans raise $869 million by offering 62.1 million shares between $13 to $15 a piece at the offering’s midpoint. The offering will include 14% insiders. The company lost $815 million on revenue of $1.3 billion in 2016. Alibaba backs 23.4% of the company. Citi, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and Deutsche Bank are underwriters in the deal. Best plans to list on the NYSE as “BSTI.”
• FAT Brands, a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based burger chain with 181 locations, says it plans to raise $24 million in an Reg A+ IPO. The company plans to offer 2 million shares at $12 a piece. In 2016, FAT posted revenue of $10.1 million and income of $4.2 million. Fogcutter Capital Group backs the company. TriPoint Global Equities is underwriting the deal. FAT plans to list on the Nasdaq as “FAT.”
• Merck agreed to acquire Rigontec, a Germany-based company that focuses on RIG-I targeting RNA therapeutics. According to terms of the deal, Merck will make an upfront cash payment of 115 million euros ($138 million) to Rigontec’s shareholders. Based on the fulfillment of certain milestones, Merck may make additional contingent payments of up to 349 million euros ($418 million). Rigontec had raised approximately $34 million in venture funding from investors including Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, Forbion Capital Partners, High-Tech Gründerfonds, MP Healthcare Venture Management, NRW.BANK, Sunstone Capital and Wellington Partners Life Sciences.
• Francisco Partners made an investment of an undisclosed amount in NMI, a Roselle, Ill.-based provider of payments enablement technology for ISOs, VARs, ISVs and payment facilitators. Bregal Sagemount will be exiting its investment in the company.
• Vance Street Capital LLC acquired R.S.T. Instruments Ltd., a Canada-based provider of complex geotechnical instrumentation and data systems, from Hammond, Kennedy, Whitney & Company, Inc. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Intermedia acquired AnyMeeting, an Irvine, Calif.-based web conferencing, video conferencing and webinar provider. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. AnyMeeting raised approximately $2.6 million in venture funding from investors including Canyon Creek Capital, Pasadena Angels, and Aslanoba Capital.
• FNFV Group, Fidelity National Financial’s investment arm, agreed to acquire T-System, a Dallas-based healthcare IT company, for $200 million in cash. The seller is Francisco Partners.
• Nestle, a Switzerland-based packaged food company, agreed to buy Sweet Earth, a Moss Landing, Calif.-based maker of vegan and plant-based foods. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Sweet Earth raised venture funding of an undisclosed amount from Renewal Funds. Read more at Fortune.
• Littlejohn & Co agreed to sell Newgistics Inc, an Austin, Texas-based omni-channel commerce software and tech services, to Pitney Bowes for about $475 million.
• Bain Capital Private Equity acquired Diversey, a Sturtevant, Wisc.-based provider of food hygiene and cleaning solutions, from Sealed Air Corp. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• UniTek Global Services, which is backed by Littlejohn & Co and New Mountain Finance Corp, acquired GW Communications, a Coppell, Texas-based broadband infrastructure services firm. The sellers were Turning Point Venture Partners and Blue Dog Capital. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• GSO Private Investors, a JPMorgan Chase subsidiary, raised $150.85 million for its third fund, according to an SEC filing.
• Finistere Ventures raised €20 million ($24 million) for its Ireland AgTech Fund as part of a partnership with Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.
• LexShares, a fintech platform that enables individuals and institutions to invest in litigation, formed its first marketplace fund, LexShares Marketplace Fund I.
• Helene Willberg joined Alvarez & Marsal as a managing director. Previously, Willberg was at KPMG.
• Kallie Hapgood joined Gridiron Capital as managing director of investor relations. Previously, Hapgood was at NovaFund Advisors.
• Joseph Blackett and Dan Kinchla joined Grand Coast Capital Group.
• Battery Ventures promoted seven team members: Zack Smotherman was promoted to principal. Roland Anderson, Sabrina Chiasson and Satoshi Harris-Koizumi were promoted to vice president. Three other team members were promoted associate: Brandon Gleklen, Dominic Kallas, and Adi Dangot Zukovsky.