5 Qs WITH A DEALMAKER
You may know Cindy Whitehead as the woman behind Addyi, the women’s libido-enhancing pill dubbed “the female Viagra.” After two failed attempts, she finally got the drug through FDA approval and promptly sold the company behind it for $1 billion to Valeant.
Now, Whitehead has turned from entrepreneur to investor through her new venture The Pink Ceiling—a cross between VC fund, incubator, and consulting firm. She invests in woman-led or female-focused companies that are using technology to tackle health-related problems. Whitehead’s investment thesis boils down to this sentence: “I want to make other women really fucking rich.” She adds, “I firmly believe that when women have money, they have the freedom to make decisions and invest in those things that matter to them.”
In a conversation with Term Sheet, Whitehead discusses sex, power, and—of course—money. Read the full Q&A here.
TERM SHEET: You’re known for getting Addyi approved by the FDA and selling it to Valeant. What was it like pitching a female arousal drug to investors, the FDA, and potential acquirers?
WHITEHEAD: I got invited to the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in January of 2015. It was a really important opportunity for me, and I had exactly eight minutes to deliver the presentation. I started talking about the pill, and the whole room starts to giggle. The audience is a sea of blue and gray suits, and here I am in front of the room talking about women and sex.
I can remember glancing down at my countdown clock, thinking, “What can I do to focus everybody?” As fast as I could, I advanced my slides to the brain scan studies. I dramatically pointed to the screen, and I went silent — long enough for it to get uncomfortable. The whole room got silent. “Are you looking at what I am looking at?” I said. “Because I’m just here to talk about the biology of sex for women.” And they regrouped. But it was a lesson in how I would have to talk about the pill going forward when pitching to rooms full of male bankers, investors, and even the FDA.
You say women should be unapologetic when it comes to building wealth. What do you mean by that?
We talk all the time about how women need a voice. We don’t need a voice — we need power. Money is power. I say that confidently because the data shows that when women have that power, they pay it forward. They invest in other women, and they invest in their community. I want to help with access to capital, make early bets on these bright women, and give them access to mentoring.
You’ve tried to change the narrative around female sexuality. Do you think it’s evolving?
It will not change until we start openly discussing female satisfaction. I think that starts in the patient-provider dialogue with one simple question: “And are you satisfied?” Adding that to the standard questions—“Are you sexually active, do you want birth control, and do you want to get tested for STDs?”—would actually change the conversation about women and sex forever.
Sexual harassment allegations have plagued the VC community in recent months. What are some ways to address and solve this problem?
It is the worst version of power play when people are seeking someone’s mentorship for things that are critical to their livelihood, and then they’re put in that position. Addressing it is speaking up. It’s women advocating not only for themselves, but also for each other.
What advice would you give early-stage founders?
Embrace the workhorse to become the unicorn. I am so tired of all the grandiose startup speak — the founders who declare their genius before they ever even execute it. So what I tell founders is: Don’t tell me you’re going to change the world. Put your head down, do the work, and show me.
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• Ceres Imaging, an Oakland, Calif.-based aerial spectral imagery and analytics company, raised $2.5 million in Series A funding from Romulus Capital.
HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
• Ribometrix Inc, a Greenville, N.C.-based biotech company focused on developing small molecule modulators of RNA to treat disease, raised $7.5 million in seed funding. SV Health Investors and Hatteras Venture Partners led the round, and were joined by investors including AbbVie Ventures, the Dementia Discovery Fund, MP Healthcare Venture Management and Alexandria Venture Investments.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Scottish Equity Partners made an investment of an undisclosed amount in Dotmatics, a U.K.-based scientific informatics software and services provider.
• Expedition Capital Partners, Centerfield Capital Partners and Cardinal Equity Partners recapitalized Wild Sports, an Orangevale, Calif.-based maker of licensed and branded tailgating, homegating and outdoor games. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• CoolSys, which is owned by Audax Private Equity, acquired Certified Refrigeration and Mechanical Inc, a Madison, Wisc.-based refrigeration services company. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• LLR Partners made a minority investment of an undisclosed amount in Professional Capital Services, a Philadelphia-based independent retirement services platform.
• Arsenal Capital Partners acquired Carolina Color Corporation, a Salisbury, N.C.-based producer of color concentrates, and Breen Color Concentrates, a Lambertville, N.J.-based supplier of custom color concentrates for the plastics industry. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Elevate Midstream Partners, a Houston, Texas-based midstream company, secured an equity commitment of up to $100 million from Tailwater Capital LLC.
• Teall Investments LLC acquired a “significant” stake in Tailgate Guys, an Opelika, Ala.-based event management company specializing in sports hospitality. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• NRD Capital Management LLC made an investment of an undisclosed amount in FundRx, a New York City-based venture capital platform that invests in healthcare and life sciences startups. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• AE Industrial Partners, LLC acquired F.M.I., Inc, a manufacturer of large, complex aerospace structural components and subassemblies. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Shore Capital Partners recapitalized Advanced Animal Hospital Group and Progressive Pet Animal Hospitals and merged the businesses to form Midwest Veterinary Partners, a company with 22 general practice veterinary clinics in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Loma Negra, a Buenos Aires-based cement maker, raised $840 million from an offering of 44.2 million ADSs at $19. The company and an additional $114 million in an Argentine offering. The company posted profit of $30.2 million on revenue of $595 million in 2016. Camargo Corrêa backs the company. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Bradesco BBI, Citigroup, HSBC, Itau BBA, and Morgan Stanley are underwriters in the deal. The company plans to list as “LOMA” on the NYSE.
• Altair Engineering, a Troy, Mich.-based engineering software maker,raised $156 million in an IPO of 12 million shares at $13. In 2016, the company posted revenue of $313 million, and income of $10.2 million. J.P. Morgan, RBC Capital Markets, Deutsche Bank, William Blair, and Canaccord Genuity are underwriters in the deal. The company plans to list on the Nasdaq as “ALTR.”
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FIRMS + FUNDS
• Glendon Capital Management, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm, raised $2.5 billion for its Glendon Opportunities Fund II.
• Viola Ventures, formerly Carmel Ventures, raised $170 million out of $200 million planned for its fifth fund.
• BlackGold Capital Management, a Houston-based research-driven firm focused on credit investments in the energy industry, raised $165 million for its fund, BlackGold Private Energy Partners II LP.
• BioGeneration Ventures, a Naarden, Netherlands-based venture capital firm, raised €82 million euros ($95.3 million) for its third fund, BGV III.
• Brighteye Ventures, a Paris-based venture capital firm, raised €50 million ($58 million) for its first fund.