Backstage Capital founder Arlan Hamilton is stepping down as CEO of Backstage Studio, the firm’s venture studio that incubates new companies and products. Term Sheet obtained a memo and audio message she sent to investors yesterday detailing the management changes at the firm.
From now on, Christie Pitts, a partner and chief of staff at the firm, will be in charge of Backstage Studio. Meanwhile, Hamilton writes that she will focus on “brand and vision evangelizing, raising assets under management, and mentoring my team.” In the 28-minute audio clip, Hamilton says, “I’m going to be somewhat of a brand ambassador and chief vision officer. I’m toying with the title, ‘Chief Smooth Operator.’ Now, it doesn’t roll off the tongue, but it does make me happy, and that’s what all of this is all about.”
Further, Hamilton explains she will turn her attention to things such as podcasting, speaking engagements, authoring a book, and working with founders. She says she has signed a deal with publishing house Penguin Books, and she’s working on a new podcast called “Your First Million,” in which Hamilton will interview successful people about how they got to one million — whether that’s dollars, downloads, or customers. Hamilton also noted she will be doing more speaking engagements — fireside chats, Q&As, and keynotes. She adds, “When I’m doing that, it truly is where I feel most comfortable right now.”
Hamilton sent the email yesterday following Axios’s report that she had not yet raised her $36 million fund dedicated exclusively to black female entrepreneurs.
I asked Hamilton, who has invested in more than 100 companies, 1) how much time will be spent with founders given her new focus, 2) when she plans to raise the $36 million fund, and 3) how this has affected entrepreneurs who were counting on an investment from the fund. (She has not yet returned my request for comment.)
As my colleague Kristen Bellstrom wrote in today’s Broadsheet newsletter, “While the past 24 hours cannot have been pleasant for Backstage, I would argue that reporting on a company’s missteps is as important as reporting on its successes. Hamilton has publicly discussed the fund—which she memorably dubbed the ‘IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME fund’—including saying that she planned to make multiple investments out of it by the end of last year, so it’s fair to point out that she’s failed to do so.”
In the email, Hamilton notes that Backstage raised $2 million in funding in 2018 and generated approximately $1 million in revenue since then. She writes that the firm has “enough under management for an appropriate yearly management fee,” but it has to cut expenses, and one of the ways it did that was through layoffs. She said everyone was given severance, and the firm is helping each person find a new job.
“You still haven’t seen my potential, and I’m looking forward to showing you that,” she tells her investors in the audio clip.
THIS JUST IN: Opendoor, a San Francisco-based online home-selling service, raised $300 million in funding from investors including General Atlantic, Hawk Equity, SoftBank Vision Fund, Access Technology Ventures, Lennar Corporation, Fifth Wall Ventures, SV Angel, Norwest Venture Partners, NEA, GGV Capital, Khosla Ventures, and GV. The additional funding brings the company’s total equity to $1.3 billion, along with more than $3 billion in debt financing.
In a blog post, Opendoor boasts 36,000 customers and says it’s buying and selling close to 3,000 homes every month. Last year, I asked Opendoor investor Fifth Wall Ventures managing partner Brad Greiwe what happens if the housing market cools or crashes as Opendoor might be stuck holding more homes on its balance sheet. He said, “Their valuation model is very keen on understanding and recognizing that value shift occurring and can essentially price their homes in a way that will either allow them to buy at a better price or decelerate their purchasing.” Read the full Q&A here.
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• Doctolib, a France-based platform that helps users find a nearby health practitioner, raised €150 million ($170 million) in funding at a valuation of more than €1 billion ($1.1 billion). General Atlantic led the round, and was joined by investors including Accel, Eurazeo, Kernel and Bpifrance.
• Point, a provider of shared home equity financing, raised $122 million in funding. Prudential Financial and DAG Ventures led the round, and were joined by investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Ribbit Capital, Bloomberg Beta, Financial Venture Studio and Enterprise Community Partners.
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• Mojo Vision, a developer of an augmented reality platform, raised $58 million in Series B funding. Investors include Advantech Capital, Gradient Ventures, HP Tech Ventures, Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, Bold Capital Partners, LG Electronics, Kakao Ventures, and Stanford StartX.
• Iterable, a San Francisco-based growth marketing platform for cross-channel customer engagement, raised $50 million in Series C funding. Investors include Blue Cloud Ventures, CRV, Harmony Partners, Index Ventures and Stereo Capital.
• Unite Us, a New York-based care coordination and outcome tracking platform, raised $35 million in Series B funding. Oak HC/FT led the round, and was joined by investors including Town Hall Ventures, Define Ventures, Scout Ventures, Luminate, and New York Ventures.
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• Portworx, a Redwood City, Calif.-based cloud-native storage and data-management platform, raised $27 million in Series C funding. Investors include Sapphire Ventures, Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company, Mayfield Fund and GE Ventures.
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• Bridgit, a project management platform for construction businesses, raised $6.2 million CAD ($4.7 million) in Series A funding. The Business Development Bank of Canada Capital Women in Technology Venture Fund led the round.
• BriteCo, an Evanston, Ill.-based jewelry appraisal and insurance platform, raised $2 million in seed funding. Investors include Brian Spaly and Jeff Taylor.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Kinderhook Industries acquired Adell Corp, a Sunnyvale, Texas-based manufacturer and distributor of door edge guards. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Up Fintech Holding, an Beijing-based online brokerage focused on Chinese investors around the world, raised $104 million in an IPO of 13 million ADSs priced at $8, above its previous $5 to $7 range. 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.
• China Feihe, a baby formula maker, is restarting its $1 billion Hong Kong IPO, Bloomberg reports citing sources. Read more.
• Toshiba Memory, the Japanese memory chip maker, is likely pushing back its IPO in the country to November, Reuters reports citing sources. Bain Capital backs the firm.
• Stadler Rail, a Swiss train builder, plans to IPO in the country this year, Reuters reports. Peter Spuhler backs the firm. Read more.
• Gryphon Investors acquired a majority stake in LEARN Behavioral, a network of providers of behavioral treatment services for children with autism and other special needs, from LLR Partners. Financial terms were not disclosed.
• Synova Capital sold Meritsoft, a London-based developer of case management solutions, to Cognizant (NASDAQ: CTSH). The transaction generated an initial return to Synova of 4.0x invested capital and an IRR of 47% with further returns anticipated under the terms of an earn-out agreed with Cognizant.
• Synova Capital sold Defaqto, a U.K.-based financial services technology business, to TheSimplyBiz Group plc (AIM: SBIZ) for £74.3 million ($98.1 million). The investment generated an overall return to Synova of 3.9x invested capital and an IRR of 46%.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• Lucy Deland joined Inspired Capital as a partner.