Good morning Term Sheet readers. Lucinda here, filling in for Polina until Friday.
The New York Times dove into Facebook’s internal thinking as it dealt with allegations of Russian influence of the U.S. elections through its platform. And the story certainly doesn’t paint a particularly pleasing picture of Facebook’s higher echelon. Moreover, it seems that the giant is more directly involved in the increasing scrutiny toward tech titans than previously thought.
As a refresher: Following the 2016 presidential elections, Facebook initially denied all possibility of Russian interference in the race using the social media site, before later acknowledging that it may have played a part. Since then, details of Facebook’s part in the scandal and its executives knowledge of it have continued to unfold.
According to the Times article, in bid to deflect blame and attention from the scandal, Facebook allegedly began to guide fingers at fellow tech giants as well as apparently George Soros. Zuckerberg for his part appeared distracted or absent for early parts of the timeline, spending much of 2017 on a tour around the country to understand the U.S. populace.
“While Mr. Zuckerberg has conducted a public apology tour in the last year, Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook’s critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation. Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros. It also tapped its business relationships, persuading a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.”
Facebook worked with a Washington-based public relations firm, Definers Public Affairs, which reportedly pressed news agencies to look into rivals such as Google and Apple. (Facebook has since terminated its relationship with the firm.)
At the same time, Zuckerberg reportedly “ordered his management team to use only Android phones” after Apple CEO Tim Cook appeared to disparagingly reference Facebook in a MSNBC interview.
Read the full article here.
WHAT’S MORE INTERESTING THAN BLOCKCHAIN?
Silicon Valley Bank surveyed some 111 micro venture capital firms on their plans in 2019, and found that 48% are interested in science and healthcare companies compared to 45% looking at blockchain/crypto companies.
It’s not just micro VCs that see opportunity in healthcare. Roviant Sciences, the Swiss pharmaceutical firm hoping to reduce the time it takes to develop drugs, raised $200 million from investors including NovaQuest Capital Management and RTW Investments Thursday. Now, Roviant is valued at approximately $7 billion. Notably, the firm has reportedly been restructuring, laying off about 67 employees and reassigning some others to its subsidiaries.
On the topic of skyrocketing valuations: Roughly 38% of GPs are also expecting a tougher year for fundraising. Per the study: “Many acknowledged that the overabundance of capital would lead to increased competition for deals and higher valuations.”
That said, GPs and LPs may be increasingly seeking ideas outside the U.S.
“We also expect more VCs to look internationally for new investment opportunities. Many tell us they are exploring regions in which they have never invested previously,” said Jim Marshall, head of SVB’s Emerging Manager Practice. “They are in search of new talent and lower startup operational costs, notably Asia and Canada.”
THE LATEST FROM FORTUNE...
• Coinbase-backed Startup Launches $799 Home Crypto Miner
• Uber’s Growth Slows for a Third Straight Quarter With $1 Billion Loss, Report Says
• Meet the CEO of the Insurance Company Growing Faster Than Apple
• UiPath, a New York-based the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) maker, raised a total of $265 million Series C funding following an extension. Strategic investors included IVP, Madrona Venture Group, and Meritech Capital.
• Nikola Corporation, a Phoenix-based maker of electric vehicles, raised $210 million in Series C funding. The investors were not named.
• ServiceTitan, a provider of software for home service businesses, raised $165 million Series D funding. Index Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Dragoneer, T. Rowe Price, Battery Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, and ICONIQ Capital.
• Hippo, a Mountain View, Calif.-based insurtech company, raised $70 million in funding. Felicis Ventures and Lennar Corporation led the round.
• Standard Cognition, a San Francisco provider of AI-powered autonomous checkout solutions for brick & mortar retailers, raised $40 million in Series A funding. Initialized Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including CRV, Y Combinator, and Draper Associates.
• Alate Partners, a Toronto-based business focused on the property technology (proptech) market, raised $40 million in seed funding.
• Primer, a machine learning firm, raised $40 million in Series B funding. Lux Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Section 32 and Mubadala.
• AdaSky, an Israel-based maker of thermal cameras for autonomous vehicles, raised $20 million in funding. Sungwoo Hitech led the round.
• Italic, a Los Angeles-based marketplace for unbranded luxury goods, raised $13 million in funding. Comcast Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Index Ventures, and Ludlow Ventures are among the investors.
• Trace Genomics, a Burlingame, Calif.-based developer of AI-enabled diagnostic tools for farmers, raised $13 million in Series A funding. Stage 1 Ventures led the round.
• SAM Seamless Network, a Tel Aviv-based security system maker for the home IoT network, raised $12 million in Series A funding. Intel Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including NightDragon, ADT Inc, and Blumberg Capital.
• Pachyderm, an open source enterprise platform raised $10 million in Series A funding. Benchmark led the round.
• Automox said Nov. 13 that it raised $9.3 million in a Series A round led by TechOperators. Also participating in the round were CRV, BlueNote Ventures and Tom Noonan as well as other prior investors. Automox, of Boulder, Colorado, provides cloud-based patching and configuration management solutions.
• Mintos, a Riga, Latvia-based global marketplace for loans, raised 5 million euros ($5.65 million) in Series A funding. The investor was Grumpy Investments.
• Knowtions, a Toronto-based AI firm, raised $5 in Series A funding. Information Venture Partners and Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund led the round.
• Fluidly, a London-based firm using AI and financial modelling to automate the forecasting and management of cash flow for SMEs, raised £5 million ($6.5 million) in Series A funding. Nyca Partners led the round.
• Logojoy, a Canadian-based AI-powered graphic design platform for business owners to create logos, raised $6 million CAD ($4.5 million) in Series A funding. Real Ventures led the round. Flybridge Capital also participated.
• AsclepiX Therapeutics, Inc., a Baltimore, MD-based biopharmaceutical company focused on developing therapies based on a peptide platform, raised $5 million in convertible note funding. Barer & Son Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Rapha Capital Management, Salem Partners, TEDCO, and Piedmont Capital Partners.
• Bunch, a social video app for mobile games, raised $4 million in funding. Investors included Founders Fund and London Venture Partners.
• RoadBotics, a Boston-based developer of advanced computer vision technology for inspecting roads and infrastructure, raised $3.9 million in seed funding. Hyperplane Venture Capital led the round.
• Yinova, a New York-based acupuncture and Chinese medicine center, raised $2.5 million in seed funding.
• Gas Pos, a North Little Rock, Ak.-based tech platform for the gas industry, raised $1 million in funding. Merus Capital was the investor.
• Dust Identity, a Boston-based provider of a diamond security tag, raised $2.3 million in seed funding. Kleiner Perkins led the round and was joined by investors including New Science Ventures, Angular Ventures, and Castle Island Ventures.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Grupo Meridional, a portfolio company of H.I.G. Capital, acquired Hospital Metropolitano, a Brazilian private hospital. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Permira will acquire 50% percent of Grobest, a Taiwanese provider of functional feed products. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• General Atlantic reported made an offer to Premiership Rugby, the Financial Times reports. The Rugby club reportedly previously rejected a 275 million pound majority offer from CVC.
• Vee Pak, a portfolio company of Wind Point Partners, acquired Cosmetic Essence Innovations, a Holmdel, N.J.-based provider of fragrance, hair care and skin care products.
• American Construction Source, portfolio company of Angeles Equity Partners and Clearlake Capital Group, acquired Arrow Building Center, a Stillwater, Minn.-based construction goods supplier. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• WindRose Health Investors recapped Traditions Behavioral Health, a Napa, Calif.-based-based provider of outsourced physician psychiatric services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Five Elms Capital invested in Panopta, a Chicago-based infrastructure monitoring solution for the cloud. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Tecum Capital Partners invested in Converged Security Solutions, a Virginia-based cybersecurity company. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• • Levi Strauss, the jeans retailer, is planning an IPO of between $600 million to $800 million in 2019, CNBC reports citing sources. Read more.
• Centrexion Therapeutics, a Boston-based maker of therapies to moderate to severe chronic pain, postponed its $75 million IPO. It has yet to post a revenue. New Enterprise Associates backs the firm. BofA Merrill Lynch, Leerink Partners and Evercore ISI are underwriters. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “CNTX.” Read more.
• Penn National Gaming, (Nasdaq: PENN), acquired the operations of Greektown Casino-Hotel in Detroit, Mi. from Rock Ventures and JACK Entertainment. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• AEA Investors acquired Numotion, a Brentwood, Tenn.-based provider of wheelchairs and related mobility solutions, from Audax Private Equity and LLR Partners. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• Wonder Ventures, a Los Angeles-based fund, raised $15M for their Fund II, to exclusively lead Pre-Seed rounds for early-stage companies in the greater LA region.
• FocusPoint Private Capital Group has named Russell Boggess as a managing director in its New York office. Previously, Boggess worked at R6 Capital where he was a managing director.
• Lux Capital named Segolene Scarborough as CFO, Zavain Dar as Partner, and Brandon Reeves as principal.