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Term Sheet — Thursday, January 8

Random Ramblings

Can you name the best-performing venture capital fund in history?

My guesses would have been something from the dotcom era or a fund that got in early with Google or Facebook. But yesterday I was leaked some confidential documents from a limited partner in Lowercase Ventures Fund I, an $8.4 million seed fund that closed back in 2010. Active portfolio companies include Uber, Docker, Optimizely and StyleSeat, while exited deals include Instagram and Twitter.

This would appear to be the winner, from a return multiple perspective.

Through Q3, the fund had returned 3.47x of called capital and was “sitting on an additional 76.19x net value.” But that Q3 timing is important, because it does not reflect the massive Q4 appreciation that would have occurred after Uber’s most recent financing at around a $40 billion valuation.

If you increase Uber’s fair market per share value from the $62.05 mark in the Lowercase doc to the new $133 figure, the fund’s overall return multiple on committed capital climbs to a whopping 216x. Or, in real dollars, nearly $1.3 billion on just under $6 million in call-downs (including approximately $23 million in cash and stock distributions for exited companies).

Finally, from what I can tell, there are no management fees currently being paid.

I asked the folks at Preqin to send over their list of top-performing VC funds in history, and they don’t have anything that has (admittedly unrealized) multiples close to this (including from the dotcom era). There are certainly funds that have returned more hard cash — particularly given that equity commitments were much larger to begin with — but if you do know of something with better multiples, please be sure to let me know.

Lowercase founder and partner Chris Sacca declined comment, likely because the docs include a warning about how “loose lips sink returns.”

• Cutting back: Jared Stone has quietly transitioned into a senior advisor role at Northgate Capital, the fund-of-funds manager that he co-founded 13 years ago with ex-NFL players Tommy Vardell and Brett Jones. He remains listed as a managing director on the firm’s website, and declined comment via email.


• Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. (NYSE: DKS), a Coraopolis, Penn.-based sporting goods retailer with a market cap north of $6.5 billion, is “holding early-stage conversations with a handful of buyout firms about going private,” according to Reuters. Read more.


• Mister Spex, a Germany-based online optician, has raised $40 million in new VC funding. Goldman Sachs led the round, and was joined by return backers Scottish Equity Partners, XAnge and DN Capital.

• Surface Oncology, a Cambridge, Mass.-based developer of cancer immunotherapies, has raised $35 million in Series A funding. Backers include Atlas Venture, Fidelity Biosciences, Lilly Ventures and New Enterprise Associates. Read more.

• Seismic, a Solana Beach, Calif.-based enterprise sales enablement solution, has raised $20 million in Series B funding. JMI Equity led the round, and was joined by return backer Sigma West. Read more. Read more.

• Dato (f.k.a. GraphLab), a Seattle-based big data analytics provider for small and mid-sized businesses, has raised $18.5 million in Series B funding. Vulcan Capital and Opus Capital Ventures were joined by return backers NEA and Madrona Venture Group.

• Par8o, a Newton, Mass.-based EMR-agnostic platform for coordinating healthcare delivery and plan design, has raised $10.5 million in Series A funding. Backers include Atlas Venture, Founder Collective, CHV Capital and Allscripts.

• Caremerge, a Chicago–based senior-care coordination platform, has raised $4 million in first-round funding. Cambia Health Solutions led the round, and was joined by Generator Ventures, GE Ventures, Arsenal Venture Partners and Ziegler-LinkAge Longevity Fund.

• Miracor Medical Systems, an Austria-based developer of medical devices for patients with impaired cardiac function, has raised €4.5 million in new Series B funding from BioMedInvest and aws Gründerfonds. Existing backers include  Earlybird Venture Capital, Delta Partners and SHS.

•, an Indian online real estate portal, has raised an undisclosed amount of equity funding from Google Capital. Read more.


• Atlas RFID, a Birmingham, Ala.-based provider of materials tracking and management solutions for the construction industry, has raised an undisclosed amount of growth equity funding from Kayne Partners.

• Bain Capital Partners is working on a £1.2 billion buyout offer for TI Automotive, a British car parts maker owned by firms like Oaktree Capital, according to The Telegraph. It would be Bain’s third attempt to make over TI Automotive in the past three years. Read more.

• Freeman Spogli & Co. has acquired Plantation Products, a Norton, Mass.-based provider of seed packets and seed starting to retailers, from RFE Investment Partners. No financial terms were disclosed.

• The Frontenac Co. has acquired a majority stake in GNAP LLC, a Grand Rapids, Mich.–based specialty abrasives distributor. No financial terms were disclosed.

• Genstar Capital has agreed to acquire Telestream, a Nevada City, Calif.–based provider of live and on-demand digital video tools and workflow solutions, from Thoma Bravo. No financial terms were disclosed.

• Gulf Coast Specialty Energy Services, a portfolio company of Grey Mountain Partners, has acquired Specialized Environmental Resources LLC, a Carencro, La.-based provider of geotechnical and environmental drilling, environmental remediation, amphibious excavation and marine transportation in logistically-difficult marine environments. No financial terms were disclosed.

• J.W. Childs Associates has acquired a majority stake in Cycle Gear Inc., a Benicia, Calif.–based provider of motorcycle parts and apparel, from Harvest Partners. No financial terms were disclosed.

• ICV Partners has acquired SirsiDynix, a Lehi, Utah–based provider of tech solutions to libraries, from Vista Equity Partners. No financial terms were disclosed.

• Myers Industries Inc. (NYSE: MYE) has agreed to sell its lawn and garden business to Wingate Partners for $115 million. William Blair & Co. managed the process.

• Orion Systems Integrators LLC, a N.J.-based provider of ERP and other IT solutions for the enterprise, has raised an undisclosed amount of private equity funding from Potomac Equity Partners.

• Trescal, a French calibration services company owned by Ardian, has acquired General Calibration Inc., a Boonton, N.J.-based calibration lab. No financial terms were disclosed.

• Vitruvian Partners has acquired a majority stake in CRF Health, a provider of electronic clinical outcome assessment (eCOA) solutions for the life sciences industry, from sellers like Verdane Capital. No financial terms were disclosed.


• Trainline PLC, a British online train ticket retailer, is prepping a London IPO that could raise around £75 million and a £500 million initial market cap. Shareholders include Exponent Private Equity and HarbourVest Partners. Read more.


• Extenet Systems, a Lisle, Ill.-based distributed network infrastructure company, has hired TAP Advisors to help find a buyer, according to Reuters. Current shareholders include George Soros’ Quantum Strategic Partners, SBA Communications, Centennial Ventures, Sevin Rosen Funds, Columbia Capital and CenterPoint Ventures. Read more.


• Adaptive Biotechnologies, a spinout from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has acquired –based Sequenta, a South San Francisco-based developer of diagnostics based on immune cell receptor genes. No financial terms were disclosed. Sequenta backers included Celgene Corp., while Adaptive Biotech investors include Hatteras Venture Partners, Health Evolution Partners and Viking Global Investors.

• Greenbriar Cos. (NYSE: GBX) has agreed to acquire a 19.5% stake in Brazilian railcar maker Amsted-Maxion Hortolândia for $15 million. The deal also includes an option for Greenbriar to acquire an additional 40.5% stake within  the next two years. Read more.

• Lonely Planet has agreed to acquire an equity stake in Teton Gravity Research, a Jackson Hole, Wy.-based media group focused on the action sports market. No financial terms were disclosed.

• Nestlé (Swiss: NESN) has agreed to sell its La Cocinera frozen meals business to the Spanish affiliate of Findus Group for an undisclosed amount. Read more.

• Pulmonx, a Redwood City, Calif.–based provider of interventional pulmonology, has acquired the assets of Aeris Therapeutics, a maker of a foam-based lung sealant system for the treatment of emphysema. No financial terms were disclosed. Pulmonx shareholders include De Novo Ventures, HealthCap, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Latterell Venture Partners, MedVenture Associates, Montreaux Equity Partners and POSCO BioVentures.


• No firm or fund news this morning.


• Georgette Kiser is joining The Carlyle Group as a managing director, chief information officer and a member of the firm’s management committee. She previously was with T. Rowe Price as a VP and director of enterprise solutions for services and technology.

• Harvest Partners has promoted Jay Wilkins to senior managing director. He had joined the firm in 2010 as a managing director, after having been with DLJ Merchant Banking Partners.

• Abie Katz has joined August Capital as an associate, after having spent the past two years with CrunchFund.

• Riverside Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm, has promoted Michelle Noon and Max Osofsky to partner. Noon joined the firm in 2008 to focus on tech investments, while Osofsky joined the same year to focus on the healthcare sector. Riverside also has promoted Craig Stern to principal.

• Kenneth Selle has joined Golub Capital as head of loan trading in the firm’s broadly-syndicated loans group. He will be based in Chicago, and previously was head trader in the corporate credit group of Deerfield Capital Management.

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