A SECOND ACT
Uber and Travis Kalanick meet again.
Things are getting interesting as Kalanick’s old and new companies collide. Kalanick, the former CEO of Uber, has a new venture called City Storage Systems that is expanding its main business of renting kitchen space. Meanwhile, Uber has been testing a program where it rents out fully equipped, commercial-grade kitchens to serve businesses selling food on delivery apps like Uber Eats.
That’s kind of a problem because it would put the two ventures in direct competition. It also doesn’t help that Kalanick has been hiring former employees from Uber to his new company, and Uber had to issue a warning last year, instructing him not to recruit its staff, according to a Bloomberg report.
As Uber approaches its initial public offering and considers changes to its board, Kalanick’s position could become a point of contention. Bloomberg reports:
“Uber has privately discussed plans to shake up its board after going public, a person familiar with the deliberations said. Unlike Lyft Inc., the U.S. ride-hailing rival that’s giving founders outsized voting rights as part of its IPO, Uber will be ruled by common shareholders, who will have power to reshape the board. Directors like Kalanick have seats contractually assigned to them while the company remains private, but those agreements dissolve once it’s public.”
It’ll be interesting to see which route Uber chooses to pursue — will it invest in its own push for virtual restaurants or will it choose to partner with its embattled co-founder? The latter would make more sense, but it could also lead to some very complicated relationships.
FRESH FUNDING: Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous vehicle unit, may raise outside capital for the first time.
“The efforts suggest Alphabet wants to limit how much money it invests in the division, and show how valuable other parties believe it to be,” reads a report in The Information. Right now, Alphabet is reportedly spending at least $1 billion per year on the self-driving division.
Alphabet’s CFO Ruth Porat is reportedly encouraging the unit to raise outside funding to help cut costs and show other players just how valuable Waymo is. The new capital would put Waymo’s valuation “at least several times” that of Cruise, the General Motors-owned autonomous vehicle company valued at nearly $15 billion. Potential investors in the standalone business could include Volkswagen AG, Fiat Chrysler, and Jaguar. Read more.
• Cloudflare, a San Francisco-based Internet performance and security company, raised $150 million in funding. Franklin Templeton led the round.
• Mollybox, a pet food brand run by Xolo (Cayman) Limited, raised $13 million in Series B funding. DCM and Digitalis led the round.
• BlackBird, an aviation marketplace, raised $10 million in Series A funding. NEA led the round.
• Josh Wood Colour, a U.K.-based hair color company, raised $6.5 million in Series A funding. Index Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including JamJar Investments and Venrex.
• Unmind, a London-based workplace mental health platform, raised £3 million ($3.9 million) in funding. Felix Capital led the round.
• Olio, a collaboration platform that digitally connects hospital and physician teams with post-acute providers around the patient’s healthcare episode type, raised $2.5 million in seed funding. Investors include Innovatemap Ventures.
• OOVA, a New York-based fertility diagnostic company that spun out from Mount Sinai Hospital, raised $1 million in funding. Special Situations Life Sciences Innovation Fund led the round.
• Performance Livestock Analytics, an Ames, Iowa-based provider of livestock analytics software, raised funding of an undisclosed amount. The investor was Cavallo Ventures Inc.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Behrman Capital made an investment in Emmes Corp, a Rockville, Md.-based contract research organization. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Blackstone made an investment in Carrix, a marine terminal operator. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Keensight Capital acquired a majority stake in IVIDATA, a Paris-based consulting group specialized in Big Data and artificial intelligence services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Vessco Inc, a portfolio company of O2 Investment Partners, made an investment in Dorner Products, a Sussex, Wisc.-based supplier of flow control equipment. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Ardenton Capital made an investment in Budget Greeting Cards, a U.K. and Ireland-based designer and seller of greetings cards and gift wrap. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• SE Capital Partners and Berggruen Holdings acquired TLC Companies, a Brooklyn Center, Minn.-based transportation specific professional employer organization. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• ProPharma Group, a portfolio company of Linden Capital Partners, acquired Southwood Research, a U.K.-based provider of regulatory science services to the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Tribus Aerospace, which is backed by Shorehill Capital, acquired Midwest Precision, an Ohio-based precision manufacturer of complex components for the aerospace, defense, energy and engineered products markets. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• 777 Partners acquired Air Black Box, a travel technology company. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• The New York Yankees are partnering with Amazon, Sinclair Broadcast Co and a group of private equity investors, including Blackstone, to buy the • YES Network, a New York-based regional sports network, from Walt Disney Co for $3.47 billion.
• Lear Corporation made an investment in Maniv Mobility, an Israel-based venture firm focused on mobility tech. No financial terms were disclosed.
• Alight, a Lincolnshire, Ill.-based human resources management software maker, plans to raise $752 million in an IPO of 32 million shares priced between $22 to $25. It posted revenue of $1.7 billion in the nine months ending Sept. 2018 and loss of $39 million. Blackstone, New Mountain Capital, and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority back the firm. BofA Merrill Lynch, J.P. Morgan, and Morgan Stanley are underwriters. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “ALIT.” Alight filed confidentially on October 2, 2018. Read more.
• Up Fintech Holding, an Beijing-based online brokerage focused on Chinese investors around the world, plans to raise $78 million in an offering of 13 million ADSs priced between $5 to $7. The firm posted sales of $33.7 million in 2018 and loss of $44.3 million. Xiaomi (17.3%) and Interactive Brokers Group (9.5%) back the firm. Citi and Deutsche Bank are underwriters. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “TIGR.” Read more.
• Luckin Coffee, the Chinese coffee chain hoping to go head-to-head with Starbucks in China, is reportedly seeking a loan of at least $200 million from banks such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley in return for rights to a role in the IPO, Reuters reports citing sources. Read more.
• ACON Investments LLC agreed to acquire a controlling stake in JD Beauty, a maker of hair care accessories, from Topspin Partners. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. JD Beauty will merge with ACON portfoliio company Goody Products Inc.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• Arcline, a private equity firm, raised $1.5 billion for its debut fund.
• 137 Ventures, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm, raised $210 million for its fourth fund.