BORING IS THE NEW BLACK
Good morning, Term Sheet readers.
THE DAY ONE FUND: Amazon chief Jeff Bezos and his wife are forming a new $2 billion charitable fund, focused on fighting homelessness and providing quality education. There’s also a Day 1 Academies Fund that will launch a network of free, Montessori-inspired schools in low-income neighborhoods. “We’ll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon,” wrote Bezos of the preschool management. Read more.
BORING IS GOOD? I can’t stop thinking about this NYT story by Farhad Manjoo, in which he explores the notion that in 2018, CEOs strive to be boring. “When it comes to tech C.E.O.s, boring is the new black,” he writes. “Under the glare of global scrutiny, the daring, win-at-all-costs ethos that defined so much of the tech industry in the last couple of decades has been undergoing a thorough metamorphosis.”
That metamorphosis, the article claims, is that CEOs are becoming more about “functional competence over hypey salesmanship.” Manjoo adds, “It has become crucial to get a leader who doesn’t speak out of turn.”
What helped contribute to this phenomenon? He proposes that the tech press has gotten tougher, so even one tiny misstep can be ruinous. Manjoo notes that Larry Page has become a recluse and Sundar Pichai declined to appear at last week’s hearings. I fail to see why those are smart moves, though.
Here’s the thing — turning inward out of fear that you will be picked apart in the media is the wrong reaction. The right reaction is — don’t be a jerk to your employees, don’t tolerate inappropriate behavior within your organization, and communicate with your customers. That’s not “boring” … that’s called running a good business.
I’m curious to hear from the CEOs out there. Do you strive to be less daring and more of an “underestimated visionary” because the days of the daring CEO are over? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WEEKEND READS: Here’s your dose of interesting business articles for the weekend.
— ’Memo to the Silicon Valley boys’ club: Arlan Hamilton has no time for your BS:’ This month’s Fast Company cover story is on Arlan Hamilton, the founder of Backstage Capital. Backstage is a fund that invests in companies founded by underrepresented entrepreneurs, including women, people of color, LGBTQ company founders, or any combination of the three. In the article, Hamilton says, “I definitely am aware that the majority of my [investors] are older white men who are rich, and who will get richer by my work and the work of others. But right now the focus should be on getting that money to the founders so that they themselves can have massive exits.” Read the full feature here.
— ’The startup world’s cuddly, cutthroat battle to walk your dog:’ Well, this one is terrifying. Companies like Wag and Rover are cashing in on our obsession with pets — and they’re not without controversy. Both companies are digital marketplaces where pet owners can find dog walkers, pet sitters, and boarders via an app, with most services ranging from about $20 to $50. But much like companies that operate in the gig economy, they don’t offer coverage for their workers, who operate as independent contractors. A Wag walker named Lexi asked about accident coverage for workers. “I understand they can’t give us health insurance,” she says, “but it didn’t feel good that not only would the company not protect the walkers on the job, I was actually laughed at for asking.” Read the full story here.
— Oh, and there’s also a wild profile on Paul McCartney, because it’s Friday, and honestly, because why not?
• Shift Technologies, an online marketplace for used cars, raised more than $140 million in equity and debt. Lithia Motors led the round, and was joined by investors including Alliance Ventures, BMW iVentures, DCM, DFJ, G2VP, Goldman Sachs Investment Partners and Highland Capital.
• Atreca Inc, a Redwood City, California-based biotechnology company, raised $125 million in Series C funding. Investors include Wellington Management Company LLC, Cormorant Asset Management, Aisling Capital, Boxer Capital of the Tavistock Group, EcoR1 Capital, Redmile Group, Samsara BioCapital and funds managed by Tekla Capital Management.
• Wasabi, a Boston-based hot cloud storage company, has raised $68 million in Series B funding. Investors include Forestay Capital.
• Cocos-BCX, a China-based blockchain game development platform, raised $40 million in funding. Investors include Binance Labs, NEO Global Capital and 500 Startups.
• Integrate.ai, a Toronto-based AI software company, raised $30 million in Series A funding. Portag3 Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Georgian Partners and Real Ventures.
• HYP3R, a company focused on location-based marketing, raised $17 million in Series A funding. Investors include Structure Capital, Rokk3r Fuel, Thayer Ventures, and Silicon Valley Bank.
• BreezoMeter, an Israel-based provider of hyperlocal air quality data and pollen information, raised $7.75 million in Series B funding. Goldacre and Entrée Capital led the round.
• Growers Holdings Inc, a Garner, N.C.-based provider of digital tools for farmers, raised $5 million in Series A funding. Lewis and Clark Ventures led the round.
• Bloom Credit, a New York City-based financial wellness platform, raised $3.87 million in seed funding. Resolute Ventures led the latest round with participation from Kindred Ventures and Slow Ventures.
• Avvay, a Nashville-based company that helps content creators find and book locations for their projects and events, raised $1 million in seed funding. Zero G Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Matchstick Ventures, SpringTime Ventures and Service Provider Capital.
HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
• System1 Biosciences Inc, a San Francisco-based neurotherapeutics company, raised $25 million in Series A funding. CRV and Pfizer Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Alexandria Venture Investments, Dolby Family Ventures, Longevity Fund, Riot Ventures, Kinled Holding, Wilmot Ventures, Webb Investment Network, Liquid 2 Ventures and Boom Capital.
• Coda Biotherapeutics Inc, a South San Francisco-based developer of a chemogenetic gene therapy platform for the treatment of intractable diseases, raised $19 million in Series A funding. MPM Capital and Versant Ventures led the round.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• SJL Partners LLC, KCC Corporation and Wonik QnC Corporation agreed to acquire Momentive, a Waterford, N.Y.-based maker of specialty silicones and silanes, for about $3.1 billion.
• Sage Metals Private Limited, which is backed by Delos Capital, acquired Trident Components LLC, a Granbury, Texas-based provider of specialty metal formed products and solutions. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• AE Industrial Partners LP acquired Gryphon Technologies, a Washington, D.C.-based defense engineering and technical services firm. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• MidOcean Partners acquired Questex Intermediate Holdings, Inc, a B2B information services provider, from Shamrock Capital. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Vista Equity Partners invested in iCIMS, a Holmdel, N.J.-based provider of cloud-based talent acquisition solutions. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• China Renaissance, the boutique investment bank, is seeking an IPO of up to $377 million in Hong Kong. Alipay will invest. Read more.
• Collier Creek Holdings, a New York-based SPAC, plans to raise $350 million. Pinnacle Foods Chairman Roger Deromedi runs the firm. ,Citi, Credit Suisse and BofA Merrill Lynch are underwriters. It plans to list on the NYSE as “CCH.U.” Read more.
• Arco Platform, a Sao Paulo, Brazil-based education firm, plans to raise $183 million in an IPO of 11.1 million shares priced between $15.50 to $17.50. It booked revenue of $63.4 million in 2017 and earnings of $11.5 million. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Itau BBA, and BofA Merrill Lynch are underwriters. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “ARCE.” Read more.
• Westwing, the online furniture retailer, plans to raise $139.44 million in an IPO in Frankfurt. Rocket Internet backs the firm. Read more.
• SurveyMonkey, a San Mateo, Calif.-based survey platform, plans to raise $135 million in an IPO of 13.5 million shares priced between $9 to $11. It posted revenue of $218.8 million in 2017 and loss of $24 million. Tiger Global (29.9% pre-offering) and Sheryl Sandberg (9.9%) back the firm. J.P. Morgan, Allen & Company, BofA Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, UBS Investment Bank, and Wells Fargo Securities are underwriters. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “SVMK.” Read more.
• Principia Biopharma, a San Francisco-based maker of small molecule therapies in the area of oncology, raised $106 million (25% insider) in an IPO of 6.3 million shares priced at $17 apiece, an upsized IPO at the high end of its range. It posted revenue of $5.3 million in 2017 and loss of $28.7 million. Baker Bros (12.3% pre-offering), Morgenthaler Ventures (16.8%), and New Leaf Ventures (16.8%) back the firm. BofA Merrill Lynch, Leerink Partners, and Wells Fargo Securities are underwriters. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “PRNB.” Read more.
• Qutoutiao, a Shanghai-based news and video aggregation app, raised $84 million in an IPO of 12 million ADSs priced at $7 apiece, a downsized IPO at the low end of its range. It posted revenue of $78.1 million on loss of $14.3 million. Citi, Deutsche Bank, China Merchants Securities, and UBS are underwriters. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “QTT.” Read more.
• Boehringer Ingelheim acquired ViraTherapeutics, an Austria-baseddeveloper of virus-based immunotherapeutics for the treatment of cancer, for $245 million. ViraTherapeutics was a portfolio company of EMBL Ventures.
• Industrial Growth Partners sold Grakon, a Seattle-based maker of lighting systems and components for the transportation sector, to Methode Electronics for $420 million.