The snow is falling, the Greek crisis persists and my beloved New England Patriots are back atop the football heap. In other words, it’s time for some Monday Mouth-Off.
First up are some emails related to Friday’s column on the perpetual dearth of women in venture capital. Maura leads us off: “Thanks for continuing to cover lack of women in VC decision-makers. Since we find the presence of women on public company boards and in top management correlates with higher returns, it would be interesting to hypothesize if lack of VC partners is contributing to the asset class' poor returns?”
D: “I think an interesting piece would be on diversity consultants and how they helped actually change the financial services and legal professions to be more balanced. I personally don’t think Silicon Valley and the larger venture industry is unwilling to change, but I think they have no idea how to. I would love to find out if there was a real ROI tied to these consultants.”
Kate: “When you have firms with more than 20 investment professionals and none of them are women, that isn’t a coincidence. That’s institutional sexism.”
Anon: "Your commentary on the lack of an increase in women amongst the senior ranks of decision makers in venture firms is awfully naive. The venture business is an apprenticeship business. Senior decision makers are not made in a year or even a few years. A much better analysis would be to look at the increase in junior investment professionals at venture firms. That is the level where new additions are made and would indicate a change of mentality, and the seeds for a change in senior roles in the future. Would you look from one year to the next at the proportion of female senior editors in your industry? Or would you look at the proportion of editors-in-training as an indication of change?"
I want to respond to this (sadly anonymous) one. First, I’ll stipulate that we should track the percentage of junior female VCs – and last week’s research will give us a baseline to do so going forward. But the truth is that VC is becoming less and less of an apprenticeship business. More often than not, I see new general partners coming from outside the industry – namely from operating positions, both at startups and at big companies. And, even if you still buy the apprenticeship argument, remember that fewer than 10% of all VC investment positions are currently held by women. So that pool is arguably thinner than would be the “outsider” cohort.
• Sunil responds to my column on Groupon: "It's insane for outsiders to make wild predictions for a company and then hammer them for not living up to the expectations they didn't set in the first place. The other (unrelated, but similar) situation which always stuns me is when people deem a recently IPO'd company a success or failure based on solely on their short-term aftermarket performance. Is a company who prices a deal at $1 billion valuation a 'failure' if it trades up only 10% to $1.1 billion, or is it just a savvy seller of stock? Does it mean the business is any better or worse than it was the day before the IPO? What if the exact same company chose to sell IPO shares at $800 million, which then trades up to the same $1.1 B valuation? Are they a better company? More of a success, or just willing to suffer more dilution on behalf of their shareholders?"
• Anon: "In February 2007, your magazine put Steve Schwarzman on its cover, calling him the 'New King of Wall Street.' That was probably the private equity industry’s zenith, and it was followed by years of poor returns, restructurings and fights with lenders. This February you put ‘Unicorns’ on your cover. Look out below!"
THE BIG DEAL
CRH PLC (ISE: CRG), an Irish building materials company, has agreed to pay around $7.3 billion for a group of assets from European cement makers Lafarge (Paris: LG) and Holcim (Swiss: HOLN), which are divesting in order to secure regulatory approval for their proposed merger.
CRH said that it may not hold onto all of the assets, and that it already is in talks about possibly partnering on some of them with KKR. Read more.
VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS
• Dataminr, a New York-based big data company that analyzes social media, is nearing a new round of VC funding that could bring in $50 million at more than a $500 million valuation, Fortune has learned. Read more.
• Apttus, a San Mateo, Calif.-based SaaS app to complete the quote-to-cash customer and procure-to-pay supplier processes, has raised $41 million in Series B funding. Salesforce Ventures led the round, and was joined by K1 Capital and Iconiq. www.apttus.com
• 99Taxis, a Brazilian taxi e-hail app, has raised a “significant” Series A funding round. Tiger Global Management led the deal, and was joined by return backers Monashees Capital and Qualcomm Ventures. www.99taxis.com
• Zapproved, a Portland, Ore.-based legal compliance platform, has raised $15 million in new VC funding led by K1 Investment Management. www.zapproved.com
• Siva Power, a San Jose, Calif.-based maker of solar panels, has raised $4 million in new VC funding from existing backers DBL Investors, Medley Partners, and Acero Capital. The company also secured $3 million in new DoE funding and converted $3 million in prior debt financing. www.sivapower.com
• CampusQuad Inc., a San Carlos, Calif.-based developer of a communication platform for mobile student engagement, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by ICG Ventures. www.campusquad.com
• QASymphony, an Atlanta-based agile software testing startup, has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding. Backers include Buckhead Investment Partners, Poplar Ventures and KMS Technology. www.qasymphony.com
• eRelevance Corp., an Austin, Texas-based developer of patient engagement technology, has raised more than $1.4 million in seed funding led by Martin Ventures. www.erelevancecorp.com
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Advent International and Bain Capital have jointly bid to acquire Italian bank services provider ICBPI for nearly €2 billion, according to Reuters. Read more.
• Hellman & Friedman is prepping a £2 billion takeover offer for British online used-car marketplace Auto Trader, according to the FT. Auto Trader currently is controlled by Apax Partners, which has been preparing to take the company public. Read more.
• Longreach Capital Partners has agreed to acquire Japanese jewelry chain Primo Japan from Baring Private Equity Asia for approximately $170 million (including around $85 million in debt). Read more.
• Partners Group has completed its previously-announced acquisition of a control stake in Dynacast International, a Charlotte, N.C.-based maker of die-cast metal components. The deal gave Dynacast an enterprise value of $1.1 billion. Sellers included Kenner & Co., which bought Dynacast in 2011 from Melrose PLC for $590 million. www.dynacast.com
• Thymes LLC, a Minneapolis-based maker branded fragrances across the bath & body and home fragrance categories, has raised an undisclosed amount of private equity funding from Castanea Partners. www.thymes.com
• Vertellus, an Indianapolis-based based provider of specialty chemicals for the life sciences market, has completed its previously-announced acquisition of the Sodium Borohydride unit of Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW) for an undisclosed amount. Vertellus is a portfolio company of Wind Point Partners. www.vertellus.com
• Summit Corp PLC, a UK-based drug developer whose lead product is designed to treat genetic disease Duchenne muscular dystrophy, has filed for a $40 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol SMMT, with JMP Securities and Oppenheimer & Co. serving as lead underwriters. www.summitplc.com
• Inflexion Private Equity is seeking a buyer for Aspen Pumps, a UK-based maker of HVAC pumps, according to Dow Jones. www.aspenpumps.com
• Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) has agreed to acquire Lantiq, a German chipmaker, for an undisclosed amount from Golden Gate Capital and T-Venture. Read more.
• Myland Inc.’s (Nasdaq :MYL) Indian subsidiary has agreed to acquire certain female health care businesses from Famy Care Ltd. for $750 million in cash. Famy Care shareholders include AIF Capital. www.famycare.com
• Vestar Capital Partners has agreed to sell MediMedia Pharma Solutions, a Yardley, Penn.-based provider of market access solutions for the biopharma and medical device industries, to ICON PLC (Nasdaq ICLR) for $120 million in cash. www.medimediamanagedmarkets.com
• Aspire Bariatrics, a King of Prussia, Penn.-based developer of a reversible minimally-invasive weight loss device for obesity, has secured $12 million in venture debt funding from Hercules Technology Growth Capital. www.aspirebariatrics.com
• Cerner Corp. (Nasdaq: CERB) has completed its previously-announced $1.3 billion acquisition of Siemens Health Services from Siemens AG. www.cerner.com
• Monotype Imaging Holdings (Nasdaq: TYPE) has acquired Swyft Media, a New York-based mobile ad startup, for up to $27 million (including a $15m earnout). Read more.
• Morgan Stanley is again seeking a buyer for its oil trading and storage business, after its previously agreed-upon sale to Russia’s Rosneft failed to secure the proper regulatory approvals, according to the WSJ. Suitors include KKR and Macquarie Group. Read more.
• TripAdvisor (Nasdaq: TRIP) has acquired ZeTrip, a Menlo Park, Calif.–based provider of automated travel logs based on GPS data. No financial terms were disclosed. Read more.
FIRMS & FUNDS
• Alibaba Group has formed a $129 million venture capital fund to invest in Hong Kong-based startups. Read more.
• Kickstart Seed Fund, a Salt Lake City-based seed investment firm, has closed its third fund with $39 million in capital commitment. The firm also promoted Dalton Wright to partner and hired Curt Roberts (ex-Alta Ventures Mexico) as a venture partner. www.kickstartfund.com
• OrbiMed has closed its second healthcare royalties fund with $924 million in capital commitments. www.orbimed.com
MOVING IN, UP, ON & OUT
• Maureen Kerr has joined Forbes Private Capital as a senior managing director in the firm’s New York office. She previously was a director with Barclays, where she managed the Japanese Yen private placement platform. www.forbespcg.com
• Steven Puccinelli has joined Oak Hill Capital Management as a partner, with a focus on investment opportunities in the services sector. He previously was a managing director with Investcorp, where he led private equity activities for North America and Europe. www.oakhillcapital.com
• Vestar Capital Partners has promoted John Stephens to managing director. He joined the firm in 2006, and currently sits on the boards of portfolio companies Roland Foods and St. John Knits. www.vestarcapital.com
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