THE CRYSTAL BALL
Good morning, Term Sheet readers. Sending this from a plane, so the deals section is a little abbreviated today.
Last December, Term Sheet released a list of your top business predictions for 2018. I want to do the same this year. (PS: Shout out to the reader who predicted that the Bitcoin price will fall below $5,000. You were on the money.)
Send an email to email@example.com or reply to this tweet with a one or two-sentence answer to the question: “What’s your top business-related prediction for 2019?” Feel free to give me your thoughts on everything from M&A trends to policy changes to when you think we’ll be driving our Teslas on Mars.
I will include highlights of your answers in an upcoming Term Sheet. (Note that these are submissions for inclusion in an article, so I will assume that if you email me, you’re OK with attributing the prediction to your first name.)
Speaking of predictions, Fortune just published our staff’s “Crystal Ball” for the upcoming year. Here are some of our top predictions:
Sweetgreen has been on a tear since launching in 2007, with 75 locations and nearly $329 million in VC money raised to date. With murmurs of an IPO on the horizon, there could be another path to wider expansion: a friendly acquisition by a much larger brand. Consider Chipotle. Both chains pride themselves on locavore ingredient sourcing. And both have expanded nationally at a rapid clip while slinging fast food touted to be healthy. Chipotle has had a rough go of it the past few years, plagued by food safety incidents. A merger could provide the burrito chain with a fresh face (and revenue stream) and Sweetgreen with the capital to become the Starbucks of salads.
Land of Opportunity.
Opportunity Zone investing—called “the most unbelievable tax break ever”—allows wealthy individuals or investment firms to park their money in any of the 8,700 underserved communities designated as “opportunity zones” for a chance to erase tax obligations. The most alluring cities for investment in 2019 will include Detroit, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. Look to these areas for higher home prices, job creation, and business launches in the next several years.
He’ll make it through 2019 without a $20 million SEC fine, a high-profile breakup, or insults directed at cave rescuers. That counts as a win.
As Uber and Lyft race to much-anticipated IPOs, they’ll have to work hard to sufficiently woo investors to own a piece of their business. Neither company has turned a profit—indeed, both have been losing money for years. But expect divergent outcomes: Investors will greet Uber’s IPO with a shrug owing to its high price and the company’s penchant for controversy. Meanwhile, Lyft will be viewed as an attractive proposition because of its steady gain of market share from its much-larger rival as well as its potential for rapid growth across the country from a smaller base.
Crypto-speculation cools, but it’s alt-coins that fall by the wayside. Investors see Bitcoin as the safer store of value.
• Wave Computing, a Campbell, Calif.-based artificial intelligence company, raised $86 million in Series E funding. Oakmont Corporation led the round.
• QuintoAndar, a Brazil-based rental marketplace, raised $64 million (R$ 250 million) in funding. General Atlantic led the round, and was joined by investors including Kaszek Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures and QED also participated in the round.
• MondoBrain, a Virginia-based provider of an augmented intelligence platform, raised $13.3 million in Series A funding. Japia led the round.
• Lentesplus.com, a Colombia-based e-commerce platform for contact lenses in Latin America, raised $5 million in Series A funding. Investors include Palm Drive Capital, IGNIA and InQlab.
• Floom, a London-based online marketplace and SaaS for independent florists, raised $2.5 million in a seed funding. Firstminute Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Tom Singh, Pembroke VCT, Wing Chan, and Carlos Morgado.
• LearnLux, a Boston-based digital financial wellness platform, raised $2 million in seed funding. Investors include Sound Ventures, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioffand Underscore VC.
HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
• ViaCyte Inc, a San Diego-based clinical stage regenerative medicine company, raised $80 million in Series D funding. Investors include Bain Capital Life Sciences, TPG and RA Capital Management.
• Aprea Therapeutics, a Boston and Stockholm-based clinical-stage biotechnology company developing novel anticancer therapies targeting the p53 tumor suppressor protein, raised 50 million euros ($57 million) in Series C funding. Redmile Group led the round, and was joined by investors including Rock Springs Capital, 5AM Ventures, Versant Ventures, HealthCap, Sectoral Asset Management and Karolinska Development AB.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• CenterGate Capital acquired Owen Equipment Company, a Portland, Ore.-based specialty equipment platform providing critical infrastructure solutions to municipal, utility and commercial customers. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Pexco LLC, which is backed by AEA Investors, acquired Insultab Inc, a Woburn, Mass.-based maker of heat shrinkable and non-shrink tubing products. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Indigo Partners agreed to invest in WOW air, an Iceland-based privately-held airline. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Thoma Bravo agreed to acquire PEC Safety, a Mandeville, La.-based contractor management software and safety learning content provider. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Strattam Capital made an investment in Rock Solid Technologies, a Puerto Rico and Texas-based software and IT services company. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Via Optronics, a German mobile parts maker, plans to file for an IPO in 2019, Reuters reports citing sources. Micro-Electronics backs the firm. Citigroup and another bank have reportedly been hired as underwriters. Read more.
• Ultimovacs, a Norwegian immunotherapy developer hoping to rival Merck’s Keytruda, plans to raise 700 million Norwegian crowns ($82 million) in a 2019 IPO. Read more.
• Atlas Holdings sold Erickson Construction, a Chandler, Ariz.-based provider of residential framing products and services to homebuilders, to Asahi Kasei Homes for $106 million.
• LS Power agreed to acquire CPower, an energy management solutions provider, from H.I.G. Capital. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• Lingfeng Capital, a Beijing-based private equity firm, raised $134.71 million for its debut fund, according to an SEC filing. The target is $150 million.
• Differential Ventures named David Magerman as managing partner.