Good morning, Term Sheet readers.
Media executive Jeffrey Katzenberg just raised $1 billion in funding to create high-quality content for a mobile audience. His new mobile video startup NewTV raised the massive round of capital from some of the biggest names in media in tech. Investors include Disney, Alibaba, NBCUniversal, 21st Century Fox, Entertainment One, ITV, Lionsgate, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Viacom, and Warner Media. Other investors include Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Madrone Capital Partners.
NewTV is a venture under Katzenberg’s umbrella company WndrCo, which has invested in startups such as Mixcloud, Axios, Node, Flowspace, Whistle Sports, and TYT Network.
The idea is that NewTV will create an app-based subscription service that features high-quality programming specifically created for mobile devices. Rather than full-length TV shows, the company will release its videos in “bite-sized formats of 10 minutes or less.”
NewTV will feature a range of scripted and unscripted shows, including sitcoms, dramas, reality and documentaries; it won’t include any live TV, according to Variety. The service will reportedly offer two subscription tiers: an advertising-free plan and an “advertising-light” option. It plans to license programming and won’t own or produce any shows itself.
“More so than ever, people want easy access to the highest quality entertainment that fits perfectly into their busy, on-the-go lifestyles,” Whitman said in a news release. “With NewTV, we’ll give consumers a user-friendly platform, built for mobile, that delivers the best stories, created by the world’s top talent, allowing users to make the most of every moment of their day.”
It’s unclear who the talent is or what the series will be about, but one thing is for sure — this is big money for a media startup. Mark Burnett, chairman of MGM’s Worldwide Television Group, said he’s bullish on NewTV’s model because “people now watch most of their content on mobile — and this idea is amazing.”
But mobile streaming is not a new concept. People have been consuming short-form videos on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat for a pretty long time. Additionally, let’s not forget when Verizon tried something similar in 2015.
Three years ago, Verizon debuted its mobile video service Go90 in hopes of capturing a younger demographic that had ditched traditional TV in favor of watching videos on their phones. Verizon invested as much as $200 million early on to make Go90 work. But a few days ago, Go90 officially shut down after the service failed to gain traction with the public.
Though the market for short-form high-quality premium content hasn’t quite been proven, it appears that investors are betting on the person, not the model. Burnett said, “If anybody can make it work, it’s Jeffrey Katzenberg.” Another Hollywood exec said, “No one bets against Jeffrey.”
Let’s see how this marriage between Hollywood and Silicon Valley works out.
EXCLUSIVE: Last week, Term Sheet reported that Rubicon Global, an Atlanta-based waste management startup, had acquired RiverRoad Waste Solutions, a New Jersey-based waste and recycling company.
Now, we’ve learned that Rubicon acquired two more waste brokers — Computerized Waste Systems as well as WestRock’s waste services division. Rubicon confirmed the acquisitions saying they “fit squarely into our portfolio and roadmap,” but did not provide further comment.
This is an interesting turn of events as Rubicon has long marketed itself as the “Uber for trash,” and being a waste brokerage is a descriptor that the company has resisted. It’s worth watching whether Rubicon pivots to a more traditional, brokerage business or whether it stays course as a sophisticated, high-growth startup. Read last week’s story here.
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• Salsify, a Boston-based operator of a product platform that lets brands market to shoppers, raised $43 million in Series D funding. Greenspring Associates led the round, and was joined by investors including Matrix Partners, Venrock, Underscore VC and North Bridge Venture Partners.
• Kodiak Robotics, an autonomous-vehicle startup, raised $40 million in Series A funding. Battery Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including CRV, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Tusk Ventures.
• Care/of, a New York-based wellness brand that offers a with a personalized vitamin pack, raised $29 million in Series B funding. Goldman Sachs Investment Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Goodwater Capital, Juxtapose, RRE Ventures, and Tusk Ventures.
• RiskSense, a cybersecurity company, raised $12 million in Series B funding. Spring Mountain Capital and NightDragon Security co-led the round, and was joined by investors including UL Ventures, Paladin Capital Group, Sun Mountain Capital, EPIC Ventures and Jump Capital.
• Steady, an Atlanta-based flexible on-demand work discovery platform, raised $9 million in Series A funding. Propel Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Omidyar Network, 25Madison, Clocktower Ventures and Commerce Ventures.
• MOV.AI, a Portugal-based company developing an operating system for autonomous robots in commercial settings, raised $3 million in seed funding. Viola Ventures and NFX co-led the round.
HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
• Akouos, a Boston-based biotechnology company, raised $50 million in Series A funding. 5AM Ventures and New Enterprise Associates co-led the round, and were joined by existing investors including Partners Innovation Fund and new investors Sofinnova Ventures, RA Capital Management and Novartis Venture Fund.
• Cure Genetics Co. Ltd, a China-based biotech company, raised $17 million in Series A funding. Qiming Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including CTS Capital and Ascendin Investment.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Silver Lake made an investment in GoodRx, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based provider of prescription and healthcare savings. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• DataOnline, which is backed by FFL Partners, acquired Independent Technologies, a provider of hardware, software and services for the telecommunications, oil and gas and power industries. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• ONCAP acquired Precision Global, a Greenville, S.C.-based maker of dispensing solutions. Peak Rock Capital was the seller. ONCAP said it invested about $111 million in the deal.
• Webster Capital acquired JBR Clinical Research, a Salt Lake City-based clinical research site manager conducting post-op pain studies on behalf of pharmaceutical companies. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Wynnchurch Capital will acquire Logistik Unicorp Inc, a Canada-based provider of managed uniform programs to corporate and government organizations. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• SoftBank, the Japanese giant, is reported weighing an IPO of its wireless business, Bloomberg reports. The deal could be the largest IPO ever, giving it a valuation of $90 billion. Read more.
• Intrepid Aviation, a Stamford, Conn.-based aircraft lender, withdrew its $150 million IPO. It posted revenue of $262.8 million in 2016. Reservoir Capital and Centerbridge back the firm. Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Jefferies, and RBC Capital Markets were underwriters. It planned to list on the NYSE as “INTR.” Read more.
• Weimob, the cloud-based commerce provider backed by Tencent, filed for an IPO in Hong Kong. Read more.
• KPS Capital Partners agreed to sell the attachments division of International Equipment Solutions LLC, an Oak Brook, Ill.-based manufacturer of engineered equipment for customers, to Stanley Black & Decker Inc for $690 million. The deal includes IES’ Paladin, Genesis and Pengo business units, along with all brands and operations within those units.
• Nordic Capital agreed to sell Unifeeder Group, a Denmark-based feeder and shortsea operator, to DP World for 660 million euros ($762.6 million).
• Riverside Co agreed to sell its investment in Alchemy Systems, an Austin-based provider of food and workplace safety training, to Intertek ITRK. Alchemy will be acquired for $480 million on a cash-free and debt-free basis. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.