THE FLOODGATES ARE OPEN
Good morning, Term Sheet readers.
All eyes are on bitcoin futures today — even to the point that the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) website crashed.
The launch of bitcoin derivatives is part of Wall Street’s nifty solution to make people more comfortable with the cryptocurrency … and to let big banks and retail investors trade bitcoin. And why wouldn’t they? The virtual currency has risen more than 1,500% this year, and about 85% just in the past two weeks, driven largely by demand from individual investors. Note that CBOE futures do not involve actual bitcoin — they’re securities that will track the price of bitcoin on Gemini, which is one of the major bitcoin exchanges.
On their first day of trading Sunday evening, bitcoin futures opened at $15,850 in New York and surged past $18,000, while bitcoin itself hovered at around $16,415. The CBOE crashed once due to volume and halted trading twice to cool volatility.
Meanwhile, the bubble chatter continues. While it appears bitcoin is gaining more mainstream acceptance, it remains very divisive. Cameron Winklevoss told CNBC that “[Bitcoin] is a multitrillion-dollar asset – I don’t know how long it takes to get there,” while UBS’s Paul Donovan argued bitcoin is simply a bubble that should be ignored. Oh, if only it were that easy.
“Being able to short a bubble does not make the bubble burst at once,” he said. “Bubbles are by definition irrational. Predicting when a bubble will burst cannot use rational analysis. Ignoring a bubble is the best course of action.”
Don’t hold your breath. CME Group bitcoin futures start trading next week, which will likely open the floodgates to even greater inflows of institutional money. Welcome to the brave new world of crypto.
‘DEAFENING SILENCE:’ TIME recently named the men and women who spoke out against sexual assault and harassment as TIME’s Person of the Year. This follows disturbing harassment allegations made against powerful figures across a number of industries — including tech. Just last week, a sixth woman came forward to accuse venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar of sexual misconduct. Dan Primack reported in Axios that Pishevar “forcibly kissed her and engaged in other inappropriate behavior after a charity event six years ago.”
I want to bring your attention to the following Medium post written by Upfront Ventures managing partner Mark Suster. Suster says that he has known, liked, and respected Pishevar as a VC. I think a lot of people in the tech world feel conflicted as they begin to see friends and colleagues in a different light. The result? Many keep their mouths shut. Here’s why Suster says it’s imperative more VCs begin to speak up — men and women:
“What are we to do? So many of us are freaked out about how and when to speak up lest we get something wrong. Of course we want to make sure there’s enough evidence lest we are guilty of a mob-like response. Of course a single accusation can’t be enough to publicly incriminate somebody.
But when there’s a pattern of behavior profiled across many women and researched by a trusted journalist who has examined evidence, we must speak up and make sure this kind of behavior won’t be tolerated no matter how powerful somebody is and no matter how many people they threaten and try to silence.
In hindsight, many of us in VC and tech are saying, ‘How did so many people in Hollywood know about Harvey Weinstein and not say anything?’ Yet when it’s in tech or VC we seem much slower to speak up. It’s much easier for us to sound acrimonious when it’s not our own industry.”
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THE LATEST FROM FORTUNE...
• An 82-year-old VC makes a splash with young startups (by Jeff John Roberts)
• Eataly plans further expansion and eyes IPO (by Hallie Detrick)
• Could Bitcoin’s ‘whales’ manipulate the market? (by David Z. Morris)
• Why 2018 could be a big year for Apple (by Don Reisinger)
Spotify and Tencent agree to swap stakes. Hospital giants in talks to merge to create nation’s largest operator. Investors told to brace for steepest rate hikes since 2006. Bike-sharing startup LimeBike expands to Europe.
• BitGo, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based Bitcoin wallet provider, raised $42.5 million in Series B funding. Valor Equity Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including David Sacks, Bill Lee, and DRW. Read more at Fortune.
• Menlo Security, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based provider of a cloud-based isolation platform, raised $40 million in funding from investors including American Express, HSBC, and JP Morgan.
• Dosh, an Austin, Texas-based app that finds cash for consumers and helps businesses acquire and retain customers, raised $4.9 million in funding. Goodwater Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Extol Capital and Next Coast Ventures.
• Fuzzy Pet Health, a San Francisco-based subscription-based pet healthcare company, raised $4.5 million in seed funding. Eniac Ventures and Crosscut Ventures co-led the round, and were joined by investors including Precursor Ventures, SV Angel, Accelerator and FJ Labs.
• ParaGen Technologies, a Columbus, Ohio-based biotech company focused on tissue engineering, raised $4.1 million in seed funding. Ikove Venture Partners led the round.
• Senseye Limited, a U.K.-based provider of predictive maintenance software, raised £3.5 million ($4.7 million) in Series A funding. MMC Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Breed Reply, IQ Capital and Momenta Partners.
• Billie, a New York-based razor subscription company for women, raised $1.5 million in seed funding. Investors include Female Founders Fund, Greycroft Partners, and Lakehouse Ventures. Read more at Fortune.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Align Capital Partners completed the majority acquisition of Barrow-Agee Laboratories, a Memphis, Tenn.-based company in the food safety and testing industry. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• SK Capital agreed to acquire the Fire Safety and Oil Additives Businesses of Israel Chemicals Ltd. (TASE:ICL) for approximately $1 billion.
• Helmerich & Payne, Inc. (NYSE:HP) acquired Magnetic Variation Services, LLC, a Westminster, Colo.-based company focused on directional drilling and wellbore optimization.
• MTech Acquisition, an Orlando-based blank check company formed to acquire a cannabis-related firm, filed for a $50 million IPO of 5 million units. Investors including Steven Van Dyke and Scott Sozio of Hypur Ventures back the firm. EarlyBirdCapital is sole bookrunner in the deal. The company plans to list on the Nasdaq as “MTECU.”
• Apple has agreed to acquire Shazam, a London-based sound identification app, for a reported $400 million, according to TechCrunch. Shazam had raised $143.5 million from investors including Kleiner Perkins, DN Capital, IVP, Sony Music, Universal Music and Access Industries.
• KKR acquired Hyperion, a New Jersey-based manufacturer of industrial tool components, from Sandvik. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• Capital Partners LLC, a Norwalk, Conn.-based private equity firm, raised $600 million for its third fund.