There are lots of reports out about how Snapchat is raising $100 million or so at a $10 billion valuation, with the WSJ saying that Kleiner Perkins invested $20 million. WSJ adds that Yuri Milner’s DST Global quietly invested earlier this year at a $7 billion valuation. Four related notes:
• I’ve seen one report suggesting that Microsoft may buy the company. My understanding is that isn’t happening. Moreover, I don’t see anyone buying Snapchat right now, even though everyone from Google to Facebook has taken a good hard look. Word is that founder Evan Spiegel is mirroring Mark Zuckerberg a bit, in wanting to keep his company independent.
• Snapchat doesn’t actually need capital right now. Spiegel does, however, like to bring in new investors if he thinks they can provide some other sort of value – which is why this “round” is structured more like a series of rolling closes than a more traditional “get the lead, get co-investors, close and issue a press release” strategy.
• I’m a bit flummoxed by Kleiner Perkins only investing $20 million at this high a price-tag. One explanation would be that this was done from its early-stage fund, but that would be tough to imagine due to return expectations at this valuation. If from its growth fund, why just $20 million? I’ve heard the “logo-collecting” argument, but I don’t think that holds water anymore (since both LPs and entrepreneurs can see through it).
• This is the highest-ever valuation for a pre-revenue company, topping Twitter’s 2011 round (led by DST) at around an $8 billion valuation. And that doesn’t even necessarily count, since Twitter already had a tiny bit of revenue at the time (via search engine deals) and was just a month of two away from turning on the ad spigot (already is testing, and could show prospective investors a road-map). Snapchat may turn some things on this fall, but isn’t near Twitter’s monetization maturity yet.
• Feedback I’ve received many emails over the past two days, criticizing my disapproval of tax inversion deals. Most of them say something like: “Why don’t you talk about how America has the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate?”
To be sure, our corporate tax code is a mess. Unfortunately, the only thing less functional is our Congress, which means corporate tax reform isn’t actually going to happen (even though many people on both sides of the partisan aisle agree on the same basic reform principles). I’d love to be proven wrong on that, and see anything from President Obama’s 2012 corporate tax reform framework or Rep. Dave Camp’s proposal from earlier this year get debated and turned into legislation. In the meantime, however, companies (some of which make big political donations to the do-nothings) are choosing to renounce U.S. citizenship while simultaneously keeping their actual headquarters here in order to benefit from the America’s infrastructure and culture. It’s completely legal, but that doesn’t make it right.
All of that said, I’ll also admit that the Burger King situation is a bit more complicated than are some of the other inversions, given that the combined company will have a majority of revenue and profit coming from Canada.
• Get Liquid: A reminder that we’ll soon be announcing details of our next Liquidity Event, which will take place in the Bay Area. If you would like to be a sponsor, please let me know via email soon.
THE BIG DEAL
• The Honest Co., an eco-friendly baby product company co-founded by actress Jessica Alba, has raised $70 million in Series C funding. Wellington Management led the round, and was joined by return backers like Institutional Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Iconiq Capital. Read more.
VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS
• Square, the San Francisco–based developer of electronic payment solutions, is raising $200 million at a $6 billion valuation from investors like GIC, according to CNBC. Read more.
• PluralSight, a Layton, Utah-based provider of online education for software developers, has raised $135 million in Series B funding at nearly a $1 billion valuation. Existing backer Insight Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by ICONIQ Capital and Sorenson Capital. www.pluralsight.com
• Bellicum Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Houston, Texas-based developer of cellular immunotherapies,, has raised $55 million in Series C funding. New backers include RA Capital Management, Perceptive Advisors, Jennison Associates, Sabby Capital, Ridgeback Capital Management, venBio Select, Redmile Group and AJU IB Investment and others. Existing shareholders AVG Ventures and Remeditex Ventures also participated. Jefferies LLC served as placement agent. Bellicum has now raised a total of $107 million. www.bellicum.com
• GoEuro, a meta-mode travel search platform for Europe, has raised $27 million in Series A funding. New Enterprise Associates led the round, and was joined by Battery Ventures, Hasso Plattner Ventures and Lakestar. www.goeuro.com
• Appcelerator, a Mountain View, Calif.-based enterprise mobile engagement platform, has raised $22 million in Series D funding. Rembrandt Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by Union Grove Venture Partners and return backers Storm Ventures, Sierra Ventures, Mayfield Fund, Translink Capital, Relay Ventures and EDB Investments. www.appcelerator.com
• Bizible Inc., a Seattle-based provider of marketing performance management software, has raised $8 million in new VC funding. Scale Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by Tim Kopp and return backers Madrona Venture Partners, MHS Capital, Investment Group of Santa Barbara, and Rob Glaser. www.bizible.com
• Mobiquity Inc., a Boston-based provider of mobile engagement solutions, has raised $5 million in new Series B funding led by existing shareholder NewSpring Growth. The round total is now $17 million, including an earlier investment from NewSpring, Longworth Venture Partners, Sigma Partners and Thomas Weisel Partners. www.mobiquity.com
• Datanyze, a San Mateo, Calif.-based “sales prospecting tool,” has raised $2 million in seed funding. IDG Ventures led the round, and was joined by Google Ventures, Mark Cuban, AngelList, Gil Penchina, Neeraj Agrawal, Jeff Epstein and Kyle York. www.Datanyze.com
• DreamsCloud, a Reston, Va.-based “online dream resource” and repository, has raised $2 million in Series A funding led by Sphere Capital Holding. www.dreamscloud.com
• Zuli, a San Francisco-based maker of smart home devices, has raised $1.65 million in seed funding. Backers include Menlo Ventures, Winklevoss Capital, Logitech, DeNA, XG Ventures, Stephen Stokols and Hossein Eslambolchi. www.zuli.io
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• The Carlyle Group is in “advanced talks” to acquire nine Chinese shopping malls from China Vanke Co Ltd. for upwards of $1.14 billion, according to Reuters. Read more
• Marlin Equity Partners has acquired ViryaNet, a Westborough, Mass.-based provider of mobile workforce management solutions for field work. No financial terms were disclosed. www.viryanet.com
• Civitas Therapeutics Inc., a Chelsea, Mass.-based developer of a Parkinson’s disease treatment that leverages a respiratory delivery platform, has has for an $86.25 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol CVTS, with J.P. Morgan and BofA Merrill Lynch serving as co-lead underwriters. The company has raised around $120 million in VC funding, from Longitude Capital Partners (19.9% pre-IPO stake), Canaan Partners (18.9%), Bay City Capital (10.5%), Foundation Healthcare Partners (10.2%), RA Capital (9.6%), Alkermes Inc. 7%) and Wellington Management (6.5%). www.civitastherapeutics.com
• Jaguar Animal Health Inc., a San Francisco-based developer of veterinary medicines derived from plants used traditionally in rain forest areas, has filed for a $70 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol JAGX, with BMO Capital Markets and Guggenheim Securities serving as lead underwriters. The pre-revenue company was seeded by Napo Pharmaceuticals (54.6% pre-IPO stake), and also raised VC funding from BioVeda China Fund (31.7%). www.jaguaranimalhealth.com
• Vivint Solar, a Provo, Utah-based provider of distributed solar energy to residential customers, has filed for a $200 million IPO. It plans to trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol VSLR, with Goldman Sachs, BofA Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse serving as co-lead underwriters. The company is owned by The Blackstone Group, and reports a $76 million net loss on around $10 million in revenue for the first six months of 2014. www.vivintsolar.com
• Roper Industries Inc. (NYSE: ROP) has acquired Strategic Healthcare Programs LLC, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based provider of software and informatics solutions to the post-acute healthcare market, from Cressey & Co. and Level Equity Management. No financial terms were disclosed. www.shpdata.com
• Ann Inc. (NYSE: ANN), parent company of the Ann Taylor retail chain, is exploring a possible sale, following activist investor pressure. Read more.
• Automattic, the VC-backed maker of WordPress, has acquired BruteProtect, maker of a plugin that protects WordPress from cyber-attacks, for an undisclosed amount. www.bruteprotect.com
• DBRS Ltd., a Toronto-based credit rating agency, has hired Perella Weinberg Partners to find a buyer, according to Reuters. The deal could be valued at “several hundred millions of dollars.” Read more.
• Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has acquired Zync, a maker of “cloud-based rendering software” for movie special effects studios. No financial terms were disclosed. Read more.
• Otter Products LLC, a Fort Collins, Colo.-based maker of protective cases for mobile devices, has hired Goldman Sachs to find a buyer, according to Reuters. The deal could be valued at more than $2.5 billion, including debt. Read more.
FIRMS & FUNDS
• ARCH Venture Partners has closed its eighth early-stage VC fund with more than $400 million in capital commitments. www.archventure.com
• The Carlyle Group has closed a new $816 million collateralized obligation fund in the U.S., its third of 2014. www.carlyle.com
• Shoreline Venture Management, a San Mateo, Calif.-based early-stage VC firm, is raising upwards of $60 million for its third fund, according to a regulatory filing. www.shorelineventures.com
MOVING IN, UP, ON & OUT
• Clara Jackson has joined TA Associates as a Boston-based vice president in the firm’s services group. She previously was with Fireman Capital Partners. www.ta.com
• Timothy Leland has joined Twain Financial Partners as a managing director. He previously was a managing director with TGP Investments. www.twainfinancial.com
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